This year I set myself the challenge of learning a new habit or adopting a new mindset each month. Here’s what I’ve tried so far:
Find out what I tried in June and how it went…
I’ve read my share of self-help books and nearly 99.999999% of them suggest taking up meditation or proclaim that this practice of reaching a higher consciousness has done wonders for their productivity, success and all that good stuff. I’ve had a very on-off relationship with meditation. When I’ve prioritised it I’ve found it’s been great for focus, but once I miss a few days that’s it. I can’t seem to get back into the swing of it. This month, I challenged myself to get back into a regular routine of meditation — whether that’s in the AM or the PM.
How did I get on then?
Number of days meditated = a measly 4. :( I managed to average one meditation each week.
Number of days frustrated with myself that I’ve been too ill to wake up and meditate = 12
What I learnt in the process:
- Life simply gets in the way and that’s OK, but plan, plan, plan where you can
I was ill for 2 weeks in June and I think a large part of the reason for this was self-inflicted. I’d pushed myself to the limits in May / June, committing to too much and leaving little time to myself. Self-care is fucking important. It’s 2019 and the best, long-lasting relationship you’re going to have is the one with yourself. It took me about a week to admit I was ill. It then took another week of not doing stuff to sabotage a recovery (i.e. firstly, trying to smash a morning gym session with a snotty nose is gross and secondly, drinking through illness is ill-advised), until I finally got better.
I’m trying not to be so hard on myself and listen to what my body wants. If it’s craving rest, I’m going to sleep, do fuck all and be totally OK with that. The problem with living in London is this 4 letter acronym — FOMO. If you’re not doing what everyone on Instagram is doing, you’re a failure and you’re not making the most of the fact you pay a premium of approx 123456million squids a year to live in Zone 1.
A big part of trying not to be so hard on myself is planning my weeks properly. You know what they say about failing to prepare… yeah that saying. It’s true. If you don’t know what you’re getting up to in the coming week, you get waylaid by other people’s self-sabotage plans and you end up drinking the entire weekend away. Remember those hobbies and interests you used to have? No…? That’s because they don’t exist anymore. Your hobbies and interests are basic bitch prosecco, pink gin and tonics and pretending you understand the difference between the craft ales on tap. You have to put in time for those hobbies and interest, or they simply don’t happen.
2. Plan, plan, plan and then DO
If there’s anything I’ve learnt in the 6 months I’ve been trying to master various habits, it’s you can have all the knowledge in the world about HOW to change, but the DOING is the hardest part.
I do change management as a profession and one model we follow is ADKAR. While it’s a model for taking individuals change in businesses, I believe it can be applied effectively to personal changes too. This is what each of the letters mean:
It’s like a path you have to follow to get to the end result you want, but you can’t move on to the next letter until you’ve achieve the one before it. For example, there’s no point of having the knowledge if you don’t have a desire to change, you’re not going to want to change. Like if someone tells me they know how to save the environment and they can help me, but I’m a big energy company that makes lots of money by destroying it, I’m not going to follow this person’s advice.
If I take the example of meditation here. I’m aware meditation can help and I understand the benefits. I knew why I wanted to meditate so I had the desire. I truly believe it can improve focus, regulate your emotions and give you a sense of calm. I know how to meditate; I’ve done it before. But the ability is where I got stuck and that’s really the ‘DOING’. It’s where I keep getting stuck with these habits. I have the ADK, but the extra A is hard. Like really hard.
3. Self help books are only useful if you apply them
So how do you do the DOING? For me, this is the bit that many self help books often lack. They don’t give you the practical tools to then apply their methods. One that does which springs to mind is Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits for Highly Effective People.
But with some of the bestselling ones, this is how it tends to go…. You get a personal story from the writer about why these methods change their own lives, and so you get taken on a journey that leads to desire for you to change too. They give you some tips on what they personally did and you finish the book thinking OMG I can do it too then. My life is going to be great. I’m going to achieve ALL my goals and maybe write a book about how I did it all for the next person to read. But what we so often to fail to realise is that, that person can’t then do it for you. You have to do it. And do you know what, I don’t have the answers. I don’t know how it is they all did the things they said to do. So if anyone has any tips, please help a girl out!
What am I doing in July? I’m committing to ‘doing things’. I’m trusting in my auto-pilot function and the knowledge I already have to just get on with the healthy habits I want to maintain. I’m committing to DOING, whatever that may mean and however that can be achieved.