I was my own worst enemy
From the outside looking in, I am a success.
I am a wife to an amazing husband. I have two gorgeous children-and a boy and a girl at that.
We live in a beautiful community. I completed college, medical school, and trained at arguably the best children’s hospital in the country (shout out to Cincinnati Children’s!).
I have recently lost a significant amount of weight (more on this later, I promise).
I have it all. Seemingly.
Yet, deep down inside, I knew that I wasn’t giving it my all, all the time.
For as long as I have known myself, I have a very bad habit of doing just enough.
Now, my just enough landed me all of the amazing opportunities that I have outlined above, and for that, I thank my God and my family.
However, I lived with the constant realization that I could do So. Much. More.
It started off with big things.
I would procrastinate on assignments in school. I told myself that I “work well under pressure” or that “I only work well with deadlines”.
I would have an idea for something to write or a new idea for a cool new something, and I would put it off. “That’s a silly idea.” “I can’t do that.” “No one would buy that.” “I’ll wait until I learn more about X before I do Y.”
As I progressed in my career I noticed that it was no longer only “big” things I would put off.
Seemingly minute details became increasingly difficult to undertake. Not that the things themselves were necessarily hard.
They actually weren’t hard at all. Sending in paperwork for a new job.
Responding to an email from my boss, completing paperwork tasks on time, setting an out of office reply when I was going on vacation.
These are not hard things at all, but they were things that I learned to put off until the very last minute as a way to avoid the anxiety they caused.
This then morphed into not only not making it to meetings on time but also telling myself that I was being strategically late because everyone in Miami is late and I hate wasting time (there is some truth to this…especially the lateness of my fellow Miami peeps).
But, really, it was just an excuse for me to procrastinate.
It was easy not to be too hard on myself. Honestly, for as long as I can remember, things in our lives have been crazy.
Medical school apart from my hubby, residency with a baby, Adrian’s health scare while I was in residency, fellowship in a new place with Adrian unable to find a job initially (an entire blog post!), me getting pregnant, my mom almost dying and getting sick, Adrian starting a new and amazing job, multiple hospitalizations and rehab stays and eventually my mom’s passing, my cousin dying, and subsequently my mother’s brother dying as well.
Of course I had anxiety!
I was used to doing just enough and justifying it by all of the craziness that I was dealing with on a daily basis.
Can anyone blame me? I certainly didn’t think I had a problem. Life was just crazy and things were stressful. Right?
I always knew. I always knew that, deep down inside, I was using these things as justification for my terrible self-sabotaging habits.
Deep down I was scared for peace.
Because, when things calm down and hectic tumult evolves into the daily grind of a normal life, I knew that I would crumble if I did not tackle the habits that lead to self-sabotage in my life.
I didn’t know how to do anything other than procrastinating and self-sabotage.
The thought of being on top of my day-to-day tasks gave me major anxiety.
Working with my therapist helped me to realize that for some reason I didn’t believe that I deserved to not be scrambling at the last minute.
I didn’t know how to not be in chaos, so I was creating chaos for myself in every missed e-mail, in every missed deadline, in every pre-meeting scramble.
Every time I walked in late and rushed to submit an item before a deadline, I was reinforcing my flawed internal dialogue: “That’s the way it is in my life—things are just crazy.”
But things were no longer crazy, and I had no more excuses. Life was peaceful, or at least it was no longer insane. So what was my problem?
https://productivepurpose.com/2018/06/17/you-probably-need-a-therapist/ I cannot overstate the importance of therapy in figuring out the mental blocks that I had to living the life that I wanted.
I did lots of emotional work that included prayer and meditation. I remember the morning that I committed to change.
I told myself that I am worthy of so much more, not because of anything that I have done, but because I am a child of God.
I truly, for the first time, felt free of the weight of uncertainty and self-sabotage. I had a renewed energy drive and focus to Get. Stuff. Done.
So, what did I do first? NOTHING.
A whole lot of nothing.
Because I didn’t have the TOOLS that I needed to get anything done.
I made a commitment to change but had no idea what the next step was.
When you’ve done something your entire life it is possible to summon the courage and conviction to change, but unless you have concrete steps to take, you will end up falling back into your old ways.
So here, I was with a ton of energy and determination, but feeling totally lost and confused as to what I should do next.
So, as the creature of habit that I am, I turned to the one place that I go to when I can’t figure out what to do next.
When I turned it on, one of the suggested videos was something from Amy Landino.
I had just started watching Amy a few months before and felt that her tips for productivity and being an overall girl boss resonated with me.
So, I clicked on her video, hoping that I would gain inspiration on what to do to shake my old ways. I watched a few of her videos in the background as I began preparing dinner in the kitchen. After a while, a video popped up that piqued my interest.
Amy was going to be talking to Mel Robbins.
Now, I knew I should know who Mel was, but I had no clue. Amy solidified that when she exclaimed how EVERYONE was now reading Mel Robbins” 5 Second Rule book. Having always been a book worm, I ventured over to watch the video.
And that’s where my life changed.
OK, I know how dramatic that sounds, but I cannot understate the impact that learning about Mel’s 5-second rule had on my life. It has truly been a game-changer.
Mel and Amy discussed the rule, and then I watched Mel’s Ted Talk.
Interestingly the 5-second rule is wedged in toward the end of the video, but what compelled me was Mel’s story.
I felt that she truly had been in a place that I was trying to crawl myself out of.
Stuck, mired by life’s worries, knowing that you need to change what you do in order to change where you are, but not knowing how to do it or where to begin.
Could it be that I was receiving the answer to my prayer at that very moment?
I truly believe so.
After watching a few more of her videos, I decided to put the 5-second rule into practice with something I had been procrastinating on for weeks—calling my therapist.
See, I missed my last appointment, and I had been avoiding calling her because she called me a few times and I didn’t call back.
So, I took a deep breath and did exactly what Mel taught me to do moments before.
Before I even had a chance to think, I was on the phone with my therapist.
Just as I knew she would be, she was pleasant and kind.
And, just as I always do, I immediately thought to myself “Why did I wait so long to call? That wasn’t hard at all!!!” It’s never truly hard, but I get stuck anyway.
I tried to figure out the best and fastest way to get my hands on her book. I knew that if I purchased it from amazon, I could get it in 2 days, but I needed this book NOW. So, I figured out how to download the book from Audible so that I could listen immediately.
(Talk about stuck-I had an audible membership for at least a year at that point, and that was the first book I ever downloaded and listened to!)
I did several other things that I was dreading that day after counting from 5 to 1: I logged in to my student loan account and updated the amount I owed for my records, as well as confirmed my loan forgiveness (this was a HUGE undertaking! I had been avoiding that for MONTHS); I checked some old emails and responded to them; I started working on one of my many procrastinated projects; I PICKED UP THE PHONE WHEN SOMEONE CALLED
(Y’all. Being an introvert AND a procrastinator with high-functioning anxiety truly made my voicemail inbox a place where messages went to DIE.).
I now hold the title of a recovering self-sabotager (Hello, my name is Kim…).
It is a daily battle and work in progress, although I will say that it seems to be getting easier.
I am making new habits and replacing old ones.
I am getting things done and having the daily courage to make little steps toward my goals so that I can have the life that I know I deserve.
Check out Mel Robbins’ book “The 5-second rule” for yourself! If you find it helpful, I would love if you would share your experience below or email me at productivepurpose.com.
Peace and Love,