2017, the Year I Attempt to Regain Some Control of My Life

Barry once called me a control freak. I denied it. I’ve always thought that I’m a pretty laid back girl, and I know that micro-managing annoys people. I know it’s unrealistic to think that you can control everything, because life doesn’t work that way. But some things just need some detailed guidance. If you do it right the first time, you won’t have to correct or fix many things down the road. Then it dawns on me that maybe I’m a little bit enthusiastic when it comes to control.

Thinking about things falling apart makes me anxious. Especially when I know that some preventive measures could have been taken, if only one has the oversight to implement it. What if when things go wrong, it’s something that you cannot fix? Isn’t it better to think of all the possible scenarios, just in case? Recently I realise that my being laid back is a conscious attempt to tell myself to relax, you’ve done your best. Remember the serenity prayer, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

But praying is easier than practicing the preach.

2017 has been a rollercoaster ride. My learning curve(s) has been insane. With each drama, I go into full reflection mode and experiment with hacks to make things better. How do I improve myself/situation/environment to make me less stressed or anxious? So I’ve made some drastic changes in my life. It’s been a slow progress but the impact is obvious.

1. My phone doesn’t control me; I control my phone

I started the year by putting my phone on silent mode. It didn’t help much. The vibration and pop up notifications still distract me and give me mini anxieties when I didn’t open them immediately. So I decided to turn off all notifications except for calls. Now my phone doesn’t demand my attention anymore. I unlock my phone when I decide to. If it’s urgent and requires immediate response, people will call. I have always been astonished by the way people expect you to respond to text within minutes, as if you don’t have other things to do other than attending to your phone. Turn off your notifications, try it.

2. Prioritise sleep

I’m still going at it: sleep early, rise early. So far I have succeeded in waking up before the alarm surprises me into waking up. I make sure appointments or activities end before 11pm, because I have to prepare myself to sleep. It’s a drastic change of lifestyle. You can’t expect to sleep early without adjusting your day around it. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but I have produced a lot in these two weeks compared to the days I lacked a lot of sleep.

3. Keep track of yourself

I’ve been tracking my mood and menstruation cycle. It’s to be concluded and analysed at the end of the year. But even as of today, I’ve had enough data to make small hypotheses about what prompts my mood swings. I can start thinking of ways to hack it.

4. Admit that you have financial issues

Everyone gets stressed over money. Pretty sure it’s one of our main stressors. But you have to accept that you’re sick before you can start treating it. So now I’m admitting that I’ve been living above my means. And that’s why I feel like I don’t have enough all the time. I had to take a hard look at myself, how much I make, how much I spend. Then I had to make a decision, earn more or spend less? After that I strategised. And I stick with it. I can do this. This is the one thing I can control.

Above all these, I remind myself to not be too hard on myself. That Rome wasn’t built in a day. That it’s okay to make your changes one by one, taking it one step at a time. It’s okay to walk slow and prepare for a long run. Be kind to yourself. When no one else will, you be kind to yourself.

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