Go Team 2023: You can choose the bare minimum

a drawing of a happy face gold star

I drew this happy, shiny gold star for you, to celebrate your hard work to set your own pace for your habits this fall.

Hey Team,

As we roll toward the end of August, we’re into/getting into one of the pressure points in the year.

You know what I mean, that feeling that you *should* (shudder. Yes, I still hate that word!) jump back into a regular schedule or that you *should* (shudder, again) be gearing up for fall, that it’s time to put the ‘laziness’ of summer behind you.

NOTE: In addition to my hatred for the word ‘should’, I am also not a fan of the word ‘lazy.’ Sure, sometimes we’re using it in a positive, indulgent, way, celebrating our lack of activity, but mostly it seems to be used as a way of chastising someone for resting or for not being actively busy at this exact moment. AND it’s used as a weapon against people with ADHD which makes me dislike it even more.

And, as always, I vote no on all of that.

Yes, most of us are back to (or getting back to) regular schedules and if that inspires you to go a bit harder with your exercise or with your work, that’s totally cool. Forge ahead.

But if you are like me and all of this messaging leaves you feeling tense and overwhelmed before you even get started then let me offer a counter-message:

It’s OK to do the bare minimum.

You don’t have to ‘go big’ with every single part of your life all the time.

And this is especially true if it feels like everything is gearing up all at once.

Sure, you may not have control over the pacing of some parts of your life right now – particularly if you follow an academic schedule – but you can give yourself a break on the parts that you do control.

You can ditch things that aren’t urgent.

You can scale back in some areas.

You can do the bare minimum in others.

And these things are just as true in your exercise/self-care/wellness plans as they are in every other part of your life.

Maybe you don’t need to jump back into your fall routine/plans just yet. You can reevaluate your plans and choose a graduated schedule for adding things back to your day-to-day.

You can choose a scaled-down version of whatever your past self planned for right now. If your original idea feels overwhelming, then doing something once or twice a week and building up to your plans for three to four times a week is probably more sustainable anyway.

And, of course, you can always choose a bare minimum version of your plans. Even a bare minimum gives you a placeholder, a sense of accomplishment, a stepping-stone for the path ahead. Lots of people need to make space in their life for their habit before they start building the habit itself.

If you are starting out or just getting back into things, the bare minimum might be a 1 minute walk in the living room or a one line journal or a meditation practice of 10 focused breaths.

If you have well-established fitness practices that you usually jump into but you can’t find the energy for at this pressure point right now, your bare minimum may look different than a beginner’s does. It’s up to you what constitutes the bare minimum but choose the smallest or shortest routine that you feel ‘counts’ as your practice.

Whether you are excited and enthused about jumping back in or whether you are feeling tense and overwhelmed by everything gearing back up again, I wish you ease and I hope that you can be kind to yourself about the process.

And, as always, I offer you a gold star (I think it will show up above!) for your efforts to find the way that works best for you with as little stress as possible.

Go Team Us!

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