Expansion of Awareness & Wellbeing vol. 1: Zoning Out

I am really good at zoning out. Now it’s something I shouldn’t necessarily be proud of, but it has served me pretty well over the course of my life thus far. Growing up in a small house with a big family (first 6 and then 7 of us after my youngest brother came along), I had to learn how to concentrate when other things were going on. I was really good at losing myself in whatever I was doing be it reading, playing piano, or doing homework. This skill, if you want to call it that, also serves me quite well in my work today. We have a very open office; no assigned desks, people talking all the time. So being able to get in the zone and not get distracted is a boon.

Despite its benefits, the “talent” of zoning out is not something I want to carry through my day-to-day life. I often find myself wrapped up thinking about something or looking at my email/phone while someone is talking to me. I’ll give cursory responses and then realize a second or two later that I have only half an idea of what the person said to me. This bad habit leads me to miss out on things that were said, but not only that, it also makes me look distracted and like I don’t care about the person on the other end.

One main way in which I’ve found myself zoning out as of late is with podcasts. I love podcasts! I have a number that I subscribe to and more that I just listen to periodically. I listen to them all the time; walking to and from work, at work when I’m doing project management, in the car driving to and from errands, on walks with my dog, at the gym. It’s so common for me to start a sentence with “So I was listening to this podcast the other day….” that it’s become a sort of joke among my friends and coworkers. While I don’t think there is anything wrong with podcasts (in fact, I’ll probably post a list of my favorites at some point), I’ve realized that it has started keeping me from being fully in the moment and causing me to miss opportunities for enjoying other things like the scenery or listening to music.

I used to listen to music in the car and at work, now I mostly just listen to podcasts. I want the ability to enjoy nature and the companionship with my dog, but I’m often wrapped up in my podcast world. Podcasts have really helped me with long commutes/travel in the past and continues to get me through working out but I don’t like how they seem to be ruling my life. I don’t give myself time for reflection and it’s sometimes hard to snap out of them when the walk ends, or I need to talk to a coworker.

I most certainly don’t want to give up podcasts, but I know I can choose to be more thoughtful and aware of when I listen to them. By addressing the podcast bad habit, I can inch my way towards being more present in certain aspects of my life. I will probably still listen to podcasts at the gym and in the car but I will stop listening to them when I walk Winnie and when I’m at work. I will also choose music or silence instead on some of my walks to work. I’m going to try that this week. I’ll let you know how it goes!

What I’ve accomplished this week:
* Went to the gym – twice
* Went to yoga – once
* Walked my dog – 4 days
* Practiced piano – 4 times
* Practiced voice – 2 times (I had choir practice twice and a performance but hey, it counts!)
* Talked to my mom & dad, and younger brothers
* Did strength exercises – 2 times
* Cooked dinner once and baked twice
* Reading
** At page 210 in Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
** At page 105 in  A Brief History of Thought by Luc Ferry

Things I’m enjoying this week:
* Thought I should plug some podcasts 🙂 – I’ve gotten into Crimetown from Gimlet media as well as Side Hustle School with Chris Guillebeau

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I have many different aspects of my life I want to touch on with this experiment in going deeper. Rather than focusing on one for these writings, I’d will touch on each one cyclically. However, I will include a log at the end of each post to keep record of how I am doing with each aspect of the experiment. This will allow me to post updates on each but do a deeper dive into each aspect on a weekly basis.

With that, I should introduce each of the resolutions that are part of my experiment. They are as follows (in no particular order):

1. Expansion of Strength
* Go to the gym 3 days a week
* Walk my dog 5 days a week
* Yoga 1 day a week
* Reach 125 lbs? Not 100% needed, more important is…
* Concrete measures of strength – I still need to determine what this will be..
2. Expansion of Knowledge & Experience
* Read more philosophy
* Read more in general (finish 1-2 books per month)
* Practice piano twice a week
* Practice voice on my own at least once per week
3. Expansion of Awareness & Wellbeing
* Eat more consciously – slowly/smaller portions, more fruits & veggies
* Practice meditation – need to start this one 🙂
* Journal regularly (3 days a week)
* Write this once per week
4. Expansion of Relationships
* Become better about keeping in touch with my family – call my parents once a week, call my siblings each once every two weeks
* Work on building/maintaining friendships – not sure yet how to put this in practice
* Be more intentional in my relationship with my husband
** Be thoughtful in how and when we spend time together
** How we converse – approach all conversations with benefit of doubt and a loving demeanor

Man, that looks like a big list but each resolution is important to me and if I keep it to those 3-5 items in each category, I think I can do it. Or at least do better. This experiment will help me hold myself accountable and focus on becoming a better, happier version of myself.

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