Can meh? Keeping yourself waras & cheerful through the next 15 days of RMO

The days are just blending into each other right now, and to think that there is still two weeks+ of RMO to go is an exhausting thought to bear.

At work, I recently concluded an emergency task which took up every-bit of my work-hour for more than a week. Initially, RMO flew by for me very quickly. However, as I returned to my usual work routine that didn’t take up as much brain space, I quickly sensed myself being sucked into this pit of demotivation and laziness at the start of my second week of RMO.

Is that how I am going to be like for the next two weeks then – demotivated and unexcited? I went to bed that night and genuinely felt scared at that realization.

I calmed myself down by leaning into my night routine, evening yoga followed by reading before going to bed. I was halfway-reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, when three of the author’s quotes stood out, as if to challenge my emotional resignation.

  • Act the way you want to feel.
  • You are not happy unless you think you are happy.
  • Happiness comes not from wanting more, not from having less, but from wanting what you already have.

I examined this further in my mind:

How do I want to feel right now and for the rest of RMO?

Well, I want to be cheerful and productive – whilst still acknowledging any anxiety or fear that I feel throughout RMO.

Okay, so if happiness comes from what I already have, do I have all that I need to feel cheerful and productive right now and up until the end of RMO?

Yes. I just need to put in a bit of effort to sustain it and make it work.

So, what is stopping me from just feeling cheerful and productive right now?

Nothing really. I just want to be lazy and petty, that’s all.

That’s okay, it is a hard time for us all. I will feel lazy and petty tonight, but when I wake up tomorrow onwards, I want to commit to acting in a ‘cheerful and productive’ manner- which theoretically should make me feel that way too.

And thus ended my inner monologue.

(Very important to note here that the advice above would not be applicable to all, eg. if someone has lost their job, money, etc due to the pandemic – saying ‘Happiness comes not from wanting more, not from having less, but from wanting what you already have’ would be very out-of-touch!)

For the next few days, I really committed the quote ‘Act the way you want to feel’ to my memory. Every time I felt like slacking off from my professional/personal work or when I notice myself feeling angry and that I want to nag my live-in partner – I took a step back and remembered that ‘I want to be cheerful and productive’.

Unintended consequences of practicing this level of mindfulness:

  • I realised that I wanted to slack or get angry so many times in a day. I was embarrassed at the amount of times I negatively acted this way and how quickly I felt it. I am still self-reminding myself on this till today, but now when it does happen now, I step back, I recognise it without any judgement, then just carry on in a way that is more aligned to being cheerful and productive.
  • I reached out to my friends more, than I would normally do. Because I knew that if I wanted to be cheerful, I have to engage with my community.
  • Being productive meant that I was making time and working intentionally on my personal projects too, ie. starting this blog. Even on days when my work felt a little boring, knowing that I had a blogpost to write at the end of the day or a new post to publish soon, it was a moment I really looked forward to.

And this kind of gave me up my a-ha moment – my key habit that was underlying this mindful effort to be cheerful and productive.

The key was scheduling.

To keep me accountable to acting this way, I scheduled into my notebook and my Google calendar all the things I want/need to do to stay cheerful and productive. It gave me clear goals to work toward and to look forward too.

Weekdays are very straightforward to me. The moment it turns 6 PM, I switch off completely from work and move into my scheduled home chores, personal projects, virtually hanging out with my friends, and of course resting!

Weekends really require curation on my part. I create a list of tasks I want to achieve, a mix of life admin AND fun, new things such as reading, a Netflix party with a group of friends, starting a new creative course and drawing!

All of this has to be scheduled beforehand so that the days don’t bleed into each other, into a cycle of sleeping, working, watching tv, then repeat. If nothing changes on our end, the cycle will not be disrupted nor would our feelings of demotivation. It reminds me of the quote, ‘Vague planning results in vague performance’, apatah lagi if got no planning at all!

If you feel this way too, I highly suggest you sitting down for just 10-15 minutes and think about how you want to feel this coming week, what activities do you have to do to achieve it, and then scheduling it across your week (manually/digitally). Send out invites, if other people are involved!

I have been practising this for about a week now and this mindfulness paired with the habit of scheduling has really kept me sane and excited. At the end of the week, did I feel cheerful and productive? Yes, I did. I am looking forward to all the things I get to do in the coming two weeks too.

Act the way you want to feel. Go the extra step and schedule it in.

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