5 ways to change your habits
Covid whether we like it or not has created the space as well as the imperative, to change habits and become more innovative in our life. In Australia, especially in Melbourne, we have had no choice but to adapt, adjust, accommodate. Of course we could stay under the doona, tempting! However where I live that would have been for many months now.
Exploring different means to engage with friends and family, literally moving in alternate ways and directions, novel ways for schooling and working, everyone has been affected. Above all, no one is immune.
Being goal-oriented (like me) has its advantages. However when the decision-making processes and power are out of our hands (and one could argue that they always are!), goal setting falls way short.
The Universe is far more powerful than any one individual – believe you me I have tried! Here are five considerations to assist you right now as we transition through Covid:
1. Expose the mind to something new – Atomic Habits
Our habitual tendencies create grooves in the brain and these grooves become deeper, reinforcing the same actions and reactions. For instance, our patterning gets ‘stuck’ and we become maladaptive in the world. In dealing with a totally changed world in Covid, our ‘old’ routines were not possible. Above all they did not work anymore. We needed to develop new behaviours, new body-brain connections.
Personal note – My preference during a ‘turbulent’ time is to seek solace and guidance from spiritual texts and teachers. This is invaluable and incredibly positive for me. However in Covid my analytical mind craved something more. A colleague mentioned this book, Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results. Atoms are tiny and the building blocks of something remarkable. This reminded me that the seed of every new habit is a simple, tiny decision.
2. Drop the goal focus, change your systems
No doubt we have all heard of Olympic athletes or successful entrepreneurs writing their dream goal on the bathroom mirror. Goals and a clear direction are extremely important. However alone they can bring disappointment and self-defeating behaviours. Changing our steps towards an identified new behaviour or activity can be a game changer.
Personal note – I had so many ‘goals’ set for my business in 2020, before the word Covid entered our vocabulary. Gee I wanted to get these done. As I began that quest, I was confronted with a completely different ‘yoga’ world. Moreover my old habits (and goals) needed to shift quickly if I was to stay in business. Therefore I began to look for the small daily changes to enhance my business in novel ways.
3. Different movement patterns – small steps create less resistance
We can learn to release unnecessary emotions and thoughts that come from ‘pushing’ ourselves physically or mentally. Developing ‘effortless effort’ transforms our world into a journey of self-awareness. Like the analogy that many atoms create something mighty, is how small steps in a new direction create less resistance than persisting with old habits.
Personal note – Studying and practising as a Yoga Therapist requires me to continuously drop the perception from the ‘yoga’ world. Above all, I keep reminding myself to trust my intentional movement in a new direction. That is to say, as I practise on the mat, as I teach and as I interact in the world. Gradually, patiently a new world of opportunities begins.
4. Reflect, journal, meditate
Our 24/7 society seduces us to believe that the solution to any issue or problem is there at any time, it is just one more Google search away! An incessant desire to seek for answers outside of ourselves leads to frustration, disenchantment. Finding, nudging ourselves into a quiet space to observe our tendencies, write/draw our issues, kindly pause, invites a path to ‘real’ change from within.
Personal note – Over the years I have been given many beautiful journals. Several sit unopened in the drawer. My self-talk is something like, ’It’s too beautiful, I’ll spoil it’. Or ‘Do I really wish to write and see the thoughts that live in my head’. Above all during Covid that habit needed to shift. I looked for a ‘system’ that already supported reflection, my daily meditation, and journaled a ‘seed’ thought before I started. Subsequently a ‘stuck’ habit began to shift.
5. 1% every day, every day
Small regular monetary investments compound over time. The net results from gradual behavioural change multiply as we repeat them. Making a choice that is 1% better seems insignificant in the moment but is the difference between who we are and who we could be. The brain is changed by our experiences. So, what we do out in the physical world, or psychologically inside ourselves, has a big impact on our lives.
Personal note – In conclusion it took me many years, years, being persistent, to firmly establish a daily meditation practice. I did the small 1% that I could do every day, every day, to create small positive change. Some days I wondered if it made a difference in my life, occasionally even now. In Covid I knew… you get what you repeat.
Where is your 1% that you can start today, to build an ‘atomic’ habit on a path of change? I’d love to know..
I’m Caroline Giles, a Yoga Therapist and Yoga Teacher, and the owner of Experience Yoga. I’m inspired to teach you practices of yoga for health, well-being and wholeness. My students are the everyday person like you and me. They come to create strength, vitality, inner peace and courage in their life through the practices of yoga.
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