As the weather gets warmer after a harsh and long winter, I just realized that I haven’t made a better use of my time here. And as I feel more comfortable living in the US, I also come to a realization that I will be going back home in less than a year. There are still so many things I haven’t tried or explored which won’t be available or comfortable to do during colder seasons.
Suddenly I feel extremely anxious. What have I done for my personal development during these past 9 months? I recollected my memories and realized that I spent most of my time struggling to adapt to a new environment/country and colder weather, trying to cope with demanding baby as a new and inexperienced mom, and resolving my depression. I had a lot of negative feelings, low self-esteem and was anti-social.
At that crucial moment, a best friend during my tough time in the Philippines reached out to me after reading my post and shared that she has also experienced the exact same thing as me. She just moved to Germany to be with her husband and also struggling to adapt to a new environment. Our conversation went on for a longer time but in the end, both of us made commitment to re-contemplate our short and long-term goals, make consistent efforts toward them and check on each other’s progress weekly.
So I did!
My first goal was to lose weight.I gained around 16 kg during my pregnancy and have just lost around 6-7 kg after a year. I wanted to go back to my pre-pregnancy weight and be confident again ’cause with 10 kg excess weight, I felt bad in any kind of clothes. I wanted to be able to love myself again and getting rid of my low self-esteem.
So I installed all kinds of exercises application on my phone and firstly, tried out one with 12 minutes daily exercises to do for the next 30 days. I have done it before but stopped midway, so this time I wanted to see myself really finishing it. Looks simple and easy, right? Nope! Not at all! If you’re not strong-willed, you will always find excuses for your efforts to change. Everyday, even though I always had at least 12 minutes free time during the day, I found myself procrastinating and finally forcing myself to do the exercises at night before bedtime. I struggled like this for around 3 weeks but it got easier after that. It was said that habits are formed by completing a task for 21 days (3 weeks) in a row. In my case, it worked.
I finally finished 30 days exercises challenge and lost 2 kg. Definitely feeling lighter and great! Feeling very motivated by the result, I got greedy and doubled my exercises set. However, I experienced a severe lower back pain from exercising mostly in lying down position, so I stopped and took a week off to recover. The pain affected me a lot since I carried my baby most of the time. I tried to find other exercises alternatives, preferably in standing position and my friend recommended kickboxing. So, I browsed it on YouTube, tried it and it turned out great! It’s a 20 minutes full-body exercise which worked well with me.
Aside from doing exercises on my own, I set a goal on my phone to walk at least 10.000 steps everyday. After trying it out for a few days, I realized that it’s an overestimated goal and I barely made 1.000 steps a day since I didn’t go out at all during some days. So, I decided to find a walking-buddy, a good friend of mine, and meet every Friday morning to walk for 1-2 hours. I could easily make 10.000 steps that day. When I go out to do groceries or to the library, I usually reach 5.000 steps. By the end of second month since I started working out, I have lost 3 kg (1 kg more from previous month).
Having tried out a lot of exercises, now I get the hang of what works well for me and I begin to make several adjustment according to my activities that day. For example, if I go out and walk around more than 5.000 steps, I can choose whether I want to do additional exercises (kickboxing) or not once I get back home. If I stay home all day, I make sure to complete my kickboxing exercises and add some others to make sure that I burn enough calories that day.
My next goal is to master some new skills. So, I bought books to learn Korean and Spanish, also signed up for Korean online class in Coursera. Aside from that, I took another classes in +Acumen (online learning platform offering courses to drive social change), such as Human-Centered Design and Social Impact Analysis. Since I’m doing it together with my good friends, I take these courses very seriously and commit to stay until the end. In my previous experiences with online courses, I always found it hard to finish because I didn’t have a friend or a strong motivation to go on. Now that I have both, I don’t have any excuses to leave it unfinished.
I have even made list of other interesting courses I would like to take. I don’t mind spending some money on these courses or any other things I find useful for my personal development. I see them as an investment which will be valuable for my growth, whether to find jobs later or as assets to start a business or raising my kid.
To balance it out, I also make some efforts to sharpen my right brain. I’m currently learning how to draw from books I bought from Amazon and how to make crochet dolls (amigurumi) from YouTube. They are all (surprisingly) emotionally fulfilling. I always see myself as a creative person, but I usually failed at crafts. So, seeing myself reenacting step by step to draw or crochet and make gradual progress is greatly motivating. Next, I want to try making scented candles and experimenting with various candles fragrances.
As my interests grow even more diverse, I try to make time for each of them in between my busy time everyday as a wife and mom. I usually have free time during the night after my baby go to sleep. When new materials for my online courses are available, I spend some hours finishing them. If I need a short break, I turn to my crochet or doodles. When I feel like writing but get writer’s block, I watch comedy shows or read articles in Medium. Some days when I don’t feel like doing anything, I just rest and taking care of stuffs around the house. I’m sacrificing a few hours of sleeping and start befriending coffee in the morning but I feel content inside. Now that I have many things I want to do, I even feel like days are going by exceptionally fast.
My last goal (for now) is to be more social. So, I reconnect with my friends here and join them for various activities, from baby story-time, morning walk, sightseeing, shopping, having lunch together to visiting crafts store. After new semester has started, I also get some new same-age friends who lives in a close proximity and we start doing many things I’ve been wanting to do since always but lack motivation to do it since I feel lonely doing it by myself. Positioning myself like a host and sometime a newcomer, I invite them (and get invited) to spend time together, exploring the city, joining international women’s group and attending gathering for Indonesian people/women.
A few months after making incremental efforts to make better use of my time, I realized a change in some of my behaviors. Starting to be healthier, learn some new skills and be more social, I am now more active, have more perseverance, more open to many new things and keep wanting to learn more. It keeps my heart feeling fulfilled and content in the midst of mom-hectic. Such a very good thing, right! So, how do you want to make better use of your time?
Featured image from https://www.sciencenews.org/article/arrow-of-time-reversed-quantum-experiment