As I begin to start prepping for dinner, I plug in my AirPods to play a recent podcast episode by Ali and Taimur Abdaal titled 68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice see link [here]. This is one of my go-to weekly podcast where Ali Abdaal a junior doctor working in UK’s National Health Service would share about different topics on productivity, lifestyles and other interesting topics that he would banter back and forth with his brother Taimur on. Ali also has a YouTube channel where he shares his passion for tech-related topics and productivity.
I became hooked on the contents that Ali has curated over the years due to his diligence and interest in his hobby of making a passive income outside of his full-time job of being a medical professional. This leads me into the main topic for my blog post today, The Guide to Showing Up. The reason for mentioning about Ali’s podcast was to share with you a line in there that caught my attention.
“Pros would show up at the same time every day while amateurs show up when they feel like it.”
We have all come across a period in our lives where we decide to adopt a new lifestyle or routine, from waking up earlier each day to doing 20 minutes of exercise. We would start day one with such eager and energy that somewhere though the week we begin to lose the drive to continuous keep at it. So why is it that some people can keep showing up while others don’t?
Numerous articles are already talking about this, teaching people how to turn up even when they don’t feel like it. But I am here to share with you my reason for showing up at my daily practice because everyone is different, and what works for some, may not work for others.
Being a freelance dancer during this period of COVID-19 has made me realize how much of my bread and butter is dependent on the number of teaching and projects that I take up. Currently, in Singapore, we are told to stay home under the Circuit Breaker rule where one can only be out for essentials like groceries and daily necessities. As we enter the month of June, the government will be announcing the re-opening of other services, but we are not allowed to dine out yet, and needless to say, we have to be practicing social distancing and personal hygiene at all times to prevent another sudden outbreak. Like many others, I begin to adapt my daily routines to accommodate the space available for me at home, shared with my family.
Before I share with you a few tips that keep me grounded during this period of staying at home, I just want to say that above all, you must have a reason behind doing the things you do. Having a clear intention helps you to identify with 1. your short term goals and 2. your long term goals of doing something.
What do I want to learn, gain or experience from this?
What added skills can I infuse into my work that will become a tool that I can tap on in future?
What am I trying to improve?
These are questions that you can think about before you commit to a 30-day workout challenge, or simply when you decide to start a daily journaling habit.
Tip #1: Being accountable for my actions.
My reason for starting yoga? To revisit this movement practice to see what was it that I did not enjoy. Perhaps in the past, due to my ignorance, I found yoga boring. I found it challenging to stay in a position for more than 10 seconds.
Instead of just waking up and start doing yoga, I decided to hold myself accountable by practicing it with my friends. We made a promise to meet each other on our mats by 7:30 AM each morning, and let me tell you, for the first week, I literally had to roll out of my bed, onto my floor and unroll my mat before signing into my zoom meeting.
Tip #2: Taking a quick shower the moment I wake up.
Another tip that I notice that was helpful was starting my day off with a quick shower to rinse off the sluggish energy from the night before.
In an article by The New York Times see link [here], Dr Janet K. Kennedy a clinical psychologist and sleep experts talk about the difference of what a morning shower can do for those who have trouble getting up in the morning. By giving myself that extra 5 minutes to take a quick shower before arriving at my mat made a huge difference to my energy level for that day.
Tip #3: Reducing Friction.
Reducing Friction is another term that I came across from one of Ali Abdaal’s podcast episode see link [here]. The idea of reducing friction is to make the activity easier for you to get into it. For me, that means laying out my mat ready for the morning the night before and having my workout clothes beside my showers.
This allows me to save time in the morning as I don’t need to choose what to wear nor spend 30 seconds setting up my yoga mat. A good tip is to make sure you fully charge your laptop or devices that you are streaming your videos chats or classes from so you don’t have to worry about doing it in the middle of your practice.
Tip #4: Scheduling things into my calendar.
By making the conscious decision to put things down onto my the calendar app on my phone, it becomes a responsibility that I have agreed to. Before COVID-19, being a freelance dancer means knowing how to manage my schedule. Giving myself enough time to travel from one location to the other, as well as to recognize my limits to how much I can take up in a day.
By putting things like webinar conferences, dance classes to zoom meet up with friends, it allows me to plan for myself the things that I can look forward to for the day. I recommend planning one event each day even if it is just “me time” to read, journal or Netflix.
Tip #5: Be adaptable to YOURSELF.
At the end of the day, only you can make yourself do the things you want to do. Learn to listen to your body and what you need for the day. The beautiful thing about the human body is that it is ever-changing.
Back when I was in school, I would always show up 30 minutes earlier to do my own warm-up before the 8:30 AM class. Initially, my purpose in doing that was to prevent unwanted injuries from occurring during class. However, I soon realise that my inflexible and structure warm-up was not enough to set my body and mind up for the day. That was when I decided to take a step back and give myself some space to notice what was it that my body needed. Some days I would come into the studio and begin prancing around. Other days I will find myself a corner lying shavasana with classical music playing in my AirPods.
As a dancer, we are always taught to work beyond our limits, and that isn’t wrong. But to be able to reach that endpoint, you first need to know where you begin from. With each day, you are another step further than where you started and it’s not how much you do in a day, but the accumulative daily effort that you have build-up for the years to come.
A lecturer once told me that doing your own daily conditioning is an investment you make for your future self.
And that was something that stuck to me till this day. The decisions you make today is an investment for your future self. No matter how little or small that choice may be, you will be amazed at what it would come to in a year or two down the road.