Trying to improve yourself can be a difficult process, especially at the beginning, when your failures are all too raw, your thinking still mired in the past, and the way ahead so far away the path is out of sight. You’re probably also worrying about where you are going to get the time to make such improvements. You might have family to care for, a job to do, or any number of other time-consuming things that need to be taken care of.
You are also keenly aware that ‘time’ itself is limited. You just can’t create more of it. There’s only 24 hours in a day, 365 days in a year, and you really don’t know how many years you have.
So you start small, get things in order. For me it was just making sure my boy had what he needed. His clothes were clean. The cupboards stocked. The house tidy. Then it was little bits of exercise. As I’ve said before, at the beginning I didn’t even break a sweat. I put very little time into it. Barely a few minutes.
Then I was just concerned about building good habits and routines, for both of us. Trying to create stability despite my faltering mind. Whilst doing this I was also trying to improve that faltering mind, my thinking, my mindset. I was laying a new foundation.
Somewhere along the way there was a shift. It wasn’t one thing in particular really but a combination of the things I had been working on. I started to see my difficulties in a different light.
Yes, working out regularly can be a royal pain. I would say 8 times out of 10 I don’t want to do it. And it takes time. Working towards your goals, your ambitions, isn’t an easy process either, and again it takes time. And trying to find the time to improve yourself, especially as a single working parent, can at times seem impossible.
I’ve mentioned before I have certain windows of opportunity to get writing. Basically after all the house work has been done and my boy is busy, either playing with friends outside or online, or at his Thursday evening club. Sometimes those windows are missed. Play is cut short, or he just doesn’t want to. The club cancelled. My initial feeling is one of frustration. My writing is the thing I am chasing my goals with. It’s the important thing I need to get done.
For most of us the writing process isn’t just a case of sitting in front of the computer and typing out the first thing that comes to our minds. I usually jot down little keywords or phrases, certain ideas, throughout the course of a day. But before those windows my thoughts go to how I am going to approach that thing I want to write about. There’s a mental build up to it. And when it doesn’t happen, the frustration kicks in.
I have even tried just saying to my son I need to write a while. But as any parent will tell you, when you say to your children you’re going to be busy, they’re going to be shouting you, needing you, very shortly after.
At times like that I simply remind myself that all this being better is for him. So I let the frustrations go and spend that extra time with him. That’s what’s really important after all.
So finding time is difficult. I don’t have the option of staying up late or waking earlier as my boy will only go to bed when I am and rises when I do. However, as I keep pushing myself, improving my physicality and thinking, my attitude towards my writing opportunities has changed also. Now I am finding time instead of finding excuses. No matter how valid they may seem.
You see, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, since I quit smoking marijuana my dreams have went crazy. But it’s not just my dreams. It’s my sleeping pattern. I wake up numerous times throughout the night. Sometimes within only an hour or two of actually going to bed. It’s always a fretful nights sleep. Long gone are a solid 8 hours. There’s not even a solid 4 at this stage. Sometimes the bags under my eyes in the morning are big enough to go shopping with!
Now the old me would have spent the day in a fog. Complaining about how tired I was to anyone that would listen. But what good does that achieve.
Tonight I had a little realisation. I was laying awake after having slept for just over an hour and a half, mulling over what I am going to write next, what I have to do tomorrow to ensure I am still progressing, wishing I could get this all written down so I remember it in the morning.
And a thought came to me. I need more time to write. I’m awake right now and my boy is sleeping. I’m not going to sleep again anytime soon. Why waste time tossing and turning when I could just get up right now and get on with it. Realistically there was nothing stopping me.
So here I am. It’s well after 12 on a Sunday night. The morning will come fast enough. Yes, I’ll be starting the week on a tired note. But so what? I’ll be tired in the morning anyway and I feel so full of boundless energy these days it will drive me on regardless.
For over 20 years I have rested on my laurels. Always waiting for a tomorrow that never came. I lived in a type of comfort that actually didn’t make me happy. Quite the opposite in fact. Thankfully that side of me has been overcome, a memory fading fast.
So here I am, seeking the discomfort and the challenges it will bring. Facing my failures. The greatest of which has been against myself and the woman who once loved me. And it fills me with a sense of purpose. Encourages me to keep going, keep striving. I have the feeling that things, whatever they are, are coming together. Pieces are falling into place that are making me complete.
So I say to you. What is it you want? What is the thing that fills your being? What will make you happy? Whatever it is? It’s there for the taking. You just have to reach for it. Find the time for yourself to make yourself better. Do the things you want, you need, to do for yourself.
Don’t worry about what’s wrong, or what isn’t in place. Don’t worry about what’s lost or even how far away your goals may be. Just take it minute by minute, day by day. Start small, little things are easier, but above all make the time.
If you want to be better, in whatever shape that may take, it’s better for you to find your opportunities to grow, do the things you know you need to. Find a way to do them. Find the time instead of finding excuses. That’s your only way forward.
(P.s. I originally wrote this post a few weeks ago and its been sitting in my draft folder. Since then there have been quite a few late nights/early mornings. So this idea is one I will continue with…and be happy in doing so).