Episode 76: Routine Change Part #3 – BECOMING A COMMUTER

You’re listening to The Work Of Becoming podcast! My name is Dr. Karin Nordin. I am your host as well as a behavior change expert and self-proclaimed tornado girl. I spent years of my life struggling to change before I finally got my PhD and learned the psychological tools that I needed to actually make those changes happen. Now, I’m bringing you five-minute sneak peeks of how I’m applying the real science of self-help to my life. Let’s get started!

All right! Welcome to episode four of my mini-series on how I changed my routine in order to cultivate more resilience and stress management. So, this episode is gonna be just like a very personal kind of story, kind of vulnerable opening up about the past couple of years.

So, in 2020, I was finishing my PhD. In spring of 2020 when lockdown started, I was commuting to campus three or four days per week, I was always on campus for other reasons, I lived 30 minutes away from campus, so I was driving a lot, and I was just on the go. I was back and forth. Obviously, then the pandemic started, lockdown started, and everything shut down, and I was locked in my apartment for, essentially, six months with my roommates, and it was during that time that I started my business. It was also during the next year of, not necessarily being totally quarantined, but still, we were social distancing. We weren’t going anywhere. I moved in with my partner at that time, so it was like me and him and his roommates for a while, and then just me and him.

During 2020, and during 2021, I went through this transition where I got a job that was completely remote, I started a business that was completely remote, and I finished my PhD completely remotely. So, I was no longer going to campus anymore. And then that was my life. I was working a job. I was working in online business. I had literally no reason at all to leave the house throughout 2021 and all the way throughout 2022.

Obviously, at the end of 2022, beginning of 2023, we’re vaccinated. It’s a little bit safer to go out and do things, but, for me, I don’t feel like the pandemic ever had an endpoint. I feel like everybody else had this moment where it was like, “Okay, we’re returning to work now. We’re returning to campus.” Because my life had shifted so drastically during the pandemic, I didn’t have anything to return to.

And so, this all kind of hit me, like I said, at the end of February, I was thinking about my life, and I was having a conversation with Jon, my partner, and he was like, “Karin, you need to get out of the house. You are a hermit. You literally are here 23 out of 24 hours of the day. Maybe you go down the street to the gym or you go grocery shopping,” and we do some social stuff every once in a while, but he was really right. I was not leaving the house.

I had no idea, literally no idea, the impact that that was having on my mental health until I heard my coworker, Katherine (love her), she had some living situation stuff change for her, and so, she works at a WeWork. And so, I got on this meeting with her, and I was like, “Where are you?” She was like, “I’m at WeWork.” I was like, “Oh, I forgot WeWork was a thing.” I was also thinking about the fact that we have a two-bedroom condo in DC, so there’s a master bedroom and then another bedroom, and the other bedroom is where my office is. Jon and I sometimes work from home on the same day because he’s not in the office every single day. And so, he had to have a separate office that was taking up a lot of space in our living room, and both he and I really hated the way it looked.

So, I was sitting there on the couch one day thinking about stress, and I was like, “Well, what if I left the house, and I went somewhere and worked on the days that Jon was home?” And so, that is the change that I made. I got a WeWork all-access membership, so now I commute 25 minutes away. My gym is actually on the way there. I switched to a much cheaper gym. I was going to an expensive CrossFit gym. My gym is now $30 a month, so I cut a huge portion out of my budget from that gym membership in order to cover the WeWork stuff. So, I leave in the morning, I go to the gym, and then I go another 15 minutes away to WeWork.

The first day I did it, I Voxered my business coach at the end of the day, and I was like, “I truly feel like the pandemic did not ‘end’ for me until today.” Let me say, the pandemic is not fully over. We still need to be careful. We still need to be vaccinating. All of those things I believe in. But mentally, for me, there was a huge shift that first day, and I felt so much better. I was so much more productive at WeWork, and I was able to go home and leave work at work, and that is the hardest thing. Y’all, that is the most difficult thing about Instagram and entrepreneurship and online business is that there is no separation between what is personal and what is business, and that becomes really, really, really hard.

So, that is the shift that I made. I started working at WeWork, and now I have this schedule that I love where I get up in the morning, I have a little bit of time at my house, and then I pack all my stuff. I pack my lunch. I pack my bag. I pack my gym bag. When I leave my house, I look like I’m leaving for a four-day trip, but that’s okay, and I go to WeWork, and it has made such an immense mental difference.

And so, if you’re listening to this, I would just encourage you to question whether you need a change in environment. Maybe it’s just moving around your furniture in your house. Maybe it’s swapping something or moving one room to a different room. Maybe it’s that you need to just go to coffee shops more often. But think about the immense ways that your environment impacts the way that you deal with stress and your ability to be resilient, and see if that sparks any areas where you can make changes. That’s all for today!

PS: if you are on a journey to become a better you, and you want to learn the tools and techniques that will actually help change your life, make sure you check out my Change Academy Membership. Each month, we do a 1.5-hour workshop on a different psychological topic, but we also provide resources like journal prompts, worksheets, and trackers. We host community events and more. If you’re struggling to close the gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it, this membership was built for you. Go to www.karinn4.sg-host.com/change-academy to learn more!


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Hi, I'm Karin

I’m a funfetti flavor super-fan, a loving dog mom, a PhD expert in mindset and behavior change… and I’m here to help make personal development and transformation a process that’s actually fun.


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