I didn’t use to be much of a procrastinator, but unfortunately it’s a tendency that seems to creep up on me more and more with each passing year. It’s probably a good thing in some ways: back when I was doing my post-bacc, I was so overcommitted in so many directions that I actually couldn’t afford to delay doing anything. And while that wasn’t true for all of grad school, it was true a lot of the time.
My schedule nowadays is more reasonable and forgiving. But without that familiar level of busyness, it’s sometimes difficult to remain as motivated and productive as I used to be. I’m still figuring this transition (from overwork to regular work) out. I seem to be doing so with quite a bit of delaying and dragging my feet.
This week, I came across a tip in Rachel Hershenberg‘s book that was very helpful. Dr.Hershenberg offers the invitation to approach goals, rather than planning on either accomplishing or delaying them.
Appropriately, I didn’t start to implement this tip in any big or dramatic way. I explored it in small ways. When I had a home cleaning or organizing project that needed doing, I invited myself to tidy up or clean one area of my apartment, instead of trying to put aside hours to do the whole apartment at once. When it came to a writing project that I’ve been stuck on, I tried writing a few paragraphs only, and then allowing myself to call it a day.
This was really, really helpful. Giving myself permission to approach things slowly and in stages seems to keep me from getting overwhelmed by my own to-do list. It motivates me to take some action—any action—rather than remaining stuck.
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen firsthand how important a softening of expectations can be. In my own nutrition practice, I’m constantly encouraging clients to set more realistic, achievable, and short-term goals (as opposed to the highly ambitious and demanding goals that a lot of all-or-nothing folks are attracted to). The idea of approaching a task is very akin to my friend Maria’s motto of leaving something “better than it was,” rather than perfect, which is a motto that I’ve borrowed from her very gratefully.
But sometimes we need a reminder of something that we already know. When it comes to tendencies that go against our own inborn tendencies (in my case, the tendency to be all-or-nothing in the way that I greet just about everything), we might need constant reminders 🙂
Slow and steady seems to work a lot better for me at this point than the alternative, and it’s easier to practice over time. Wishing you a week of small wins, too. Here are some recipes and reads.
A butternut soup with a spicy kick (and beautiful, deep color) thanks to the addition of harissa.
A cozy, nutritious, and meal-prep friendly curried cauliflower and chickpea bake.
The dreamiest winter comfort food: vegan creamy tortellini and vegetable soup with pesto.
Another dish of stick-to-your ribs, plant-based pasta! A WFPB version of lasagna with Bolognese ragout and béchamel.
Last but not least, something sweet. In this case, perfect vegan teatime scones.
1. I was super inspired by the video in which Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s opens up about her struggle with alopecia. I hope it finds and comforts many others who are struggling with alopecia and other autoimmune diseases.
2. A reminder to greet online claims about probiotics (and all dietary supplements) with a discerning eye, and to gather as much evidence-based information as possible before making an investment.
3. A smart, thoughtful meditation on recipes as a form of science communication from writer Amanda Baker. Couldn’t agree more with her closing line: “It is a process, and – like with any other skill we might seek to develop – just comes down to a willingness to try.”
4. An argument for why preventive action around mental illness on college campuses matters—not at the expense of, but in addition to, treatment options.
5. Finally, I loved this Food52 article about a historical NYC house and the tasty cake recipe that comes from it.
This week, a delightful new muffin recipe (in a flavor combination I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about yet—you’ll see what I mean!). Till then,
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I’ve been thinking a lot about taking responsibility lately. For the past few weeks, the process of slowly and patiently taking care of my responsibilities—academic, personal, business, financial, and the tiny tasks and duties associated with everyday living—have been a big part of staying healthy and engaged as I weather a patch of depression. It’s not about keeping busy, which has been my way of trying to outrun sadness in the past. It’s about reminding myself of my own capability and efficacy, proving…