Tag Archive - Improving my life

The sun is back!

I spent the majority of my time in America in the northern states. I grew up under sunny skies. A cloudy day in Egypt used to feel nice and different. But the Egyptian sun wasn’t always a good thing, especially in hot summer days, in dusty cities, where the gift of the green color wasn’t that generous.

Now 3 months into my second Chicago year, I’m again rethinking a new relocation. South. Did you notice: South and Sun interestingly share the same first letter!
Today we have a sunny day. The world looks different, alive, and beautiful. Hope is renewed, at least in my heart. My life isn’t going exactly wonderful. Something is missing. Sunshine helps me look for it, well, under better lighting! I might know what’s missing. But knowing is not finding.
I did live in Florida for about a year. I don’t pretend that being in Sunshine State fixed everything. But at least it could help eliminate one mood-related problem!
However moving isn’t that easy. You know why. Job, money, survival issues. I did make a difficult move to Chicago 15 months ago, and it made my life better in some aspects. But I always knew that I belong somewhere warm and sunny, somewhere outdoor friendly.
I should plan my next move. The question is: how to free myself from money, or from having to work for money. I will be thinking about just that!

Meeting myself once a week

In November of last year, I started a new habit, in my effort to change my life. It had to be an easy habit that I can commit to, but that could make some significant difference. If you’re familiar with procrastination, then you know how easy it is to make plans but fail to take consist action. My habit was just to sit with myself at the end of every week, usually Sundays, and make a plan for the week ahead.

To make sure this one habit will be a real, consistent one, I had to commit to it, regardless of whether or not I will actually do my tasks for the week. All I need to do with the undone actions of last week is just review them and take note of what wasn’t done, then move the undone to the following week, along with any new tasks. Some weeks were totally unproductive, sometimes two consecutive weeks were as unprodutive as it can get! Ok, no problem, I take a note that the previous week I did nothing, and move the tasks to the following one. Just this idea of focusing on the practice regardless of the actual accomplishments was a little breakthrough for me that helped me stick with it without any problems.
I also decided to do the planning outside, usually during breakfast or lunch. I go to a place that I like, get my coffee and write down the plan in a notebook. This increased the ease and fun of the habit, the only things that can trick us into breaking out of strong habits into new ones, gently but surely. 

The mere reviewing of the week at its end, and seeing that nothing was done was helpful. The repetition of this reviewing eventually leads to action, even if small, since it boosts one’s awareness of the passing of time. I find that my main problem with planning was forgetfulness and lack of focus. Time goes by too easily, and we can spend months without making any change or progress in our life without even realizing it.

Again, this didn’t result in any quick, phenomenal changes. But over the past 3 months, I finished many tasks that have been put off, some of them for long months. Little by little, this practice allows me to “hold” my time. We can’t shape or use anyhing elusive, we have to have some control over the material we’re working with. Time can be very hard to hold and take control of, and therefore manage. Logging and reviewing how we spend it can be very effective in helping us regain this control.

So, to summarize the process, here is what I did:

1- Break down time into units: I choose weeks. One day is too short, one month is too long.
2- Schedule a weekly session to review last week’s plan and decide which actions to be done during the following week. Commit to this session even if the previous week was a total waste of time.
3- Simply move undone actions to the new week ahead.
4- Make it into a fun date with yourself! Don’t do the planning at home, go somewhere nice, get your food or your drink, think and write down your plan.
5- Use a convenient medium that’s always easy to access. I don’t recommend our computers, the time to open it, wait for the OS to download no longer seems like a good idea to me.

How losing track of time kills our success

“God loves most those actions that are consistent, even if little”

 Prophet Muhammad

Last time I posted something in this blog was a little less than 2 months ago. That’s not, in any way, the longest time I didn’t blog! My blogs witnessed periods of much longer silence. However in my last post I talked about how I was going to change my life. I wanted to use blogging as a helping tool to keep me focused and making improvements.
The desired change is not to happen quickly, what matters is consistency. The major problem of people not improving is lack of consistent effort. All of us want to make positive changes. But most of us work toward our goals for a day or two, then we stop. We forget. We get distracted by little, insignificant things. Then one day we accidentally find an old piece of paper listing some good and easy actions, we look at the date that our own hands had marked in there, only to be shocked that it has been a year, and we still didn’t do or change any of it!
When I wrote my last post about my intention to change my life, I “thought” that I was going to blog once a week. Today I looked at the date of this last post and “discovered” that it has been almost 7 weeks! See, “thinking” that I was going to do something was of little benefit, if any!
That’s not the only example that I can remember from my personal experience of how losing track of time hurts my goals and improvement. I wasted money because of it. I lost good opportunities because of it. My life unnecessarily stayed the same longer than it should, all because of it!
One way of fixing this habit of losing track of time, and therefore staying focused, is to actually keep track of what we do. In order to do that, I created logs for the tasks that I am working on, no matter how little they were. I made it a point to do it on paper in order for them to be accessible all the time. From experience, creating a Word file can’t work as a log, the time of turning on the computer will just burry them in digits as long as the machine is dormant!
I brought a few pieces of paper, the size of a notebook, and dedicated everyone for a type of task that I usually had trouble being consistent with. One for cleaning and organizing my room. One for friends’ requests that need to be done. A log for some little healthier changes that I need to do daily. Etc. So far, those logs didn’t make me a new person, and I didn’t suddenly become un overachiever! However, my productivity, since I started those paper logs, became slightly better. I finished things I wouldn’t have finished. Other things remain postponed. One way logging helps is brining the passing of time under light. Now I can look at the “Room Organizing Log” and, to my surprise, find out that it has been 2 or 3 weeks since I did any maintenance in my room. No wonder it looks messy then!
I believe that awareness increases our productivity. The lack of consistency is largely due to forgetting. Our to do lists that never wake up and come to life were just forgotten once we wrote them. And time passes away so easy when we are in this state of semi sleep. We literally spend much of our life sleepwalking! Those are the times we don’t move forward, the months and years that pass by and our life is still exactly the same.
I am logging my life to save myself from more time sleepwalking. Sleepwalkers usually wake up to the shock of hitting a wall or the horror of falling into an abyss. Walking awake is the only guarantee to reach a destination!

How I am changing my life

Time is one of the most disciplined of creations! You can’t stop it from steadily and surely running away, at the exact same pace. Time doesn’t care what we do or how we spend it, It will come punctually and leave punctually. Time doesn’t care about us, even though we have to care about time! Yes, it’s a one sided care, that’s just how it is. As every moment comes, we can take it or leave it, before it is forever gone. Sometimes we leave months and years. Some people even leave their whole time on earth! They take nothing; instead they’re taken by anything that comes their way!

Like all of us, I should start “taking it”. It’s a non-stop gift that I have been given over and again, up until this moment. I can’t control how long it will continue to come to me, but it’s a shame that I let it go as long as I continue to live!

I decided to use my blog, this one, as a helping tool in my journey of change. I will commit to share this journey with everyone who decides to stop by and visit, or accidentally passes by! I am to share the journey with it’s ups and downs. There is something about “going public” that could strengthen commitment. At least that’s what I am hoping for, insha’Allah!

The journey is not only about actions and how-to’s. Like anything of real value, it needs to start in the mind. Anything that doesn’t have its roots deep in our hearts and minds has little chance of survival! Change for the better, for how life should be, is both an internal and external journey. I need to clean up my physical space as much as I need to get rid of negative thoughts and emotions. I have to create order in my time, actions, belonging, as much as I have to create order in my beliefs. The anticipated change can’t really happen if we only focus on the superficial. If we leave love, care, truth, and most importantly God out of the picture we are doomed to failure!

May the journey to the Truth begin!

Success NOW

Success is one of the most common goals and wishes for all people. What it means differs greatly from person to person, but this word remains the title for most hopes. What’s sad is that for most people who long for success, it seems only to be a thing of a hoped future, and rarely a fact of the lived reality of today. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

If we think we can be successful someday in the future, we’re wrong! The truth is, if we’re not successful now, we will never be successful anytime in the near or far future. Only when we feel and believe that we are successful now can we really be on the right path. Then we’ll do the actions of success, and we’ll have the thoughts and feelings of success, which will all lead to producing the outcomes we desire. Only actions done in this state have the ability to produce positive changes.

When we are failing, we do the actions of failure. When we’re successful, we do the actions of success. It can’t be the other way around. That’s why the first step on the road to success happens within, when we see in our heart that we already made it. Then the excitement of this success happening within will be the fuel inducing powerful actions and producing tangible prosperity.

Success can only happen now. Because now is all we have. Now is actually us. Our inner and true self that never fades, never goes away. And only those who are already successful can create success, it’s that simple!

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