Borrowed, Learned, & Thought (or BL&T) is a weekly newsletter sent on Mondays. In every edition, I share a borrowed idea (quote, excerpt), a lesson learned from the previous week, and a thought starter heading into the new week. Learn more and subscribe here.
"If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will."
From "Essentialism" by Greg McKeown [Book]
If you caught my last newsletter, you know that it's official and I'm writing you from a new office, in a new home, in a new town. Dana and I traded the racket of trash trucks racing over the speed bump in front of our Brooklyn apartment for birds chirping among the soft sound of drizzling rain tapping tree leaves here in Pennsylvania.
Despite a long, exhausting move on Friday, life here has already proven to bring a sense of calm. There's a soothing feeling to waking up among nature, even when we were lying on a deflated air mattress on Saturday morning, that I suspect will never get old.
Looking back on last week, Monday through Thursday feels like a blur. While I captured lessons and ideas that were brewing in my notes, at this moment, they feel irrelevant in contrast with the shift in my environment.
In many ways, I feel like I entered a sort of time machine on Friday and have landed in a different world. The idea that our environment impacts our daily life is not new but experiencing a shift of this scale is new to me.
I haven't published any work since my last newsletter. Taking a break from publishing daily notes for the week helped me create space to focus on the move vs. adding unnecessary pressure to a week full of action. I also haven't exercised, and because our kitchen was full of boxes, my diet has gone by the wayside, ordering takeout nearly every night. In short, my routine, for the most part, has been completely upended.
As I gathered the pieces to set up my desk this morning, I noticed that the way I had been positioning the shelf attachments and arranging the desk since buying it last year was not serving me. Here I was ready to recreate what was familiar, but now, with a new perspective, I saw an opportunity to improve my setup for a more comfortable workday.
I can't help but see this simple task as a metaphor for my life right now. Until this morning, I had been viewing our relocation as an event that pushed me off track from my grounding rituals, thinking only about how I could get back on track, and like my desk, recreate what was familiar.
I now see that there's a lot of good to be gained from taking a break, deconstructing our habits, and having to put them back in place. We can try to recreate what once was or use the time away to see the world differently. In this case, I'm heading into the new week full of optimism, ready to redesign my day to bring added joy.
For starters, I'll be fully embracing our new flexible working hours and shedding the 10 am to 6 pm hours I've become accustomed to over the last decade or so. I'm looking forward to beginning at 9 am and creating a new morning ritual. Then, taking the "bonus" hour after 5 pm to get a head start on evening plans, whether it be finishing a piece of writing, working on a home project (what!?), seeing family, making dinner, or working out.
Like the shelf attachments that make up my desk, several micro habits comprise the structure of my day. In recent months, there have been moments where these micro habits felt more like a chore, but my instinct was to brush that feeling off in favor of going full speed ahead.
I'm eager to revisit these micro habits and reignite the energy, everything from approaching journaling with less structure to optimizing what I eat for lunch, so it's always healthy and easy to prepare. It's often the tiny tweaks that compound over time and make the most profound impact.
Lesson? There is freedom in living a disciplined life, but sometimes, we need a reset. If we never pause and take a new view, we risk becoming stagnant, blind to opportunities to optimize and unlock the next level of happiness.
Where do I need a break? A reset from what's become customary?