52 Cards Experiment: THE END (or Version 2.0?)

Categories Stopping My Life From Swirling Out Of Control, The 52 Cards Experiment0 Comments

So, life happened, and I derailed, as one does. My dog died, my grandmother died, and I got some other bad news to boot. All progress on self-improvement tanked as I went into comfort mode (AKA eating and drinking my feelings and letting the kids watch too much TV). It was all I could do to manage normal everyday tasks and prepare for summer.

We are in Spain right now for language immersion. I used to speak Spanish (which I learned in high school) with Kiddo 1, but when we moved to Singapore, I was so overwhelmed by the move, by not being able to walk due to SI Joint Pain, and later by the birth of Kiddo 2 that speaking Spanish just stopped happening. So now we are staying in an Airbnb for a month (because that was actually cheaper than staying 2-3 weeks) so that the kiddos can attend a local day camp and we can all be immersed and get back on the Spanish train. 

It is week 2 now, things are going pretty well, and I am finally getting my head sorted enough to build some structure back into my life. I have stopped eating and drinking my feelings, but my other self-destructive behaviors (tooth-grinding, hair-picking, and nail-chipping) are in full force.  I have started meditating with the Headspace app and the H*onest Meditation app (good for angry meditators), so hopefully I can dislodge my stomach from my throat and relax it back down into the cavity in which it belongs.
I can’t call this “vacation” because the kiddos are with me, and because I love to work, so I’m not really doing the vacation thing (though we did for a couple days while the hubs was still here). We are just out here in Spain, doing normal life. The kiddos have a rough schedule, we eat food I make at home, and we go to the grocery store (or the lovely Triana Mercado). I am also doing a little shopping and eating more cheese than usual. My absolute favorite thing about being here is getting to speak Spanish and walk everywhere in a temperate climate. I miss walking so much while living in Dubai–it’s just not a very walkable city in the same way as Singapore or Sevilla, though you can clock some major steps at Dubai Mall.
Anyway, I am putting the “52” part of this experiment on a shelf. My friend doing this with me and I both agree that we are now overwhelmed with the number of goals. Could this have been prevented? Maybe. I think if each major change I wanted was broken down into extremely small incremental changes, adding a new one each week would be okay. The focus could still be on accomplishing just a handful of big changes. But mine are fairly all over the place, and some of them were only manageable sometimes and weren’t linked to anything in my life, plus I realized that a lot of the small changes just weren’t that important to me…Sigh, you try and you learn. 

So, it’s time to reboot. I really love the concept of habit stacking, but it is only useful when my schedule can be repetitive from day to day, and usually gets thrown off when the hubs is around. I am on my own with the kiddos for the next few weeks, so this is a perfect chance to create some habits with these stacks. 

The ultimate goal is to get these routines to be so repetitive that zero thought goes into doing them–like brushing your teeth or washing your hands. Generally it doesn’t require any emotional energy to do those things, unlike putting my phone away early at night or getting to bed early or walking tall.

My Current Habit Stacks:

Notice, the tasks themselves are written in pencil, because I am not as deluded as I once was that there will be any stability in my life, because the only constant in life is change (my mantra these days—is it even possible to be okay with this?!?!). LOL, just realized I forgot to write laundry in there under the Nap Stack. See what I mean?

But besides these stacks, there are some habits I want in my life. To even have a chance at success with them, I know I will need to:

  1. Write them specifically and positively
  2. Anchor them to some other habit
  3. Have a reminder system

Purposeful Smiling

The research on the power of this small habit is too strong to leave it out of my life. I was regularly smiling while driving the car, but being carless right now, I don’t smile. I am exhausted, Kiddo 2 is waking up all the time at night, and I am just not very mirthful these days. I need a new anchor. I will attach this habit to the 10-min tidy I am supposed to be doing twice a day, and maybe it will make me enjoy that habit as well. This is not the best plan, as the 10-min tidy is part of a stack that is not ingrained yet, but I don’t want to smile as I ride the bus or walk down the street. Here is a screenshot of my two daily reminders to smile and do my 10-min tidy. I am using the app Keep, which pops up reminders for me when I want them.

Walking Tall

I also want to make an effort to walk tall (with good posture) instead of posture that makes it clear I would like to disapper. I am hoping this will rub off on my psyche. I walk everywhere now, so it should be easy enough to practice this, but I am going to try walking tall specifically during my walk home from my AM work session. Doing a reminder for this will be hard since I stop working at different times every day, but  the Keep app lets me do a location-based reminder, so I will test that out by passing a certain building every day when I walk home.  

Hopefully this will give me the structure I need for the next few weeks and allow me to get some things done and take care of myself without too much angst.  At the very least, I feel better when I have this kind of structure, even if I don’t follow it perfectly.  I know it will change when we leave Spain, as we have a planned trip to the US after a few days in Dubai, but I will adjust it when needed.  I think these stacks might be the more accommodating way to go with all of this, as they can be plugged in when needed.  Example:  I only need a “work stack” on a work day.  The weekends, and school vacation days, were a big problem with making the 52 Cards Experiment habits stick, so maybe I will make a special “free day stack” to give those days some structure.  We shall see!  My fingers are crossed for Version 2.0 of the 52 Cards Experiment.

Jennifer Jasensky is a Dubai resident, United States transplant, former mathematics teacher and dancer/choreographer. She is an outgoing homebody and perpetual idealist whose love of learning knows no bounds. She is most happy enjoying a good book with a plate of kaya toast, runny eggs, and kopi-c peng siew dai, but now that she has moved from
Singapore to Dubai, drinking an iced latte in the ocean is fast becoming her happy place.

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