How habits can change your life...
These articles are stemming from having spent years as a young teacher feeling over-worked, super stressed all the time, ill in all my holidays, not sleeping well and feeling massively anxious. You get sick of feeling like that right?! It has led me to finding out how to lead a better version of my life. As I've got older I've placed more importance on doing certain things, because I see them as past-me helping future-me. What sort of stuff can we do to make life easier for ourselves? Because more often than not (that's a lie, always), future-me thanks past-me!
Make the stuff you want to get done easy and obvious. Want to exercise first thing? Get your gym kit out (or even on and sleep in it) the night before, prep breakfast and set your gym bag ready. Want to eat healthy with super busy schedule? Then meal prep and have the healthy choices to hand when you need them. That includes whatever snacks you need as that's when you're mostly likely to make a quick (and not great) decision. Want to hydrate more? Get the glass of water right by your bed for when you wake up. You're aiming to make those good decisions, smooth, friction free and the easy option!
Make the stuff you don't want to encourage, or habits that you want to break, harder and less obvious. Figure out how to add more 'friction’ to the action. So, you could put the biscuits, crisps etc in a higher cupboard inside a Tupperware container, or even don't have them in the house at all. Put the bottles of wine in the attic so it's not the easy option at the end of the day. Put the alarm clock on the other side of the room so you can't turn it off. Take batteries out of the TV remote and unplug the TV so plonking down for a sedentary night isn't as easy.
Thirdly, get yourself a morning routine that allows for distraction-free, stress-reducing calm. That might be five minutes (those with kids!), twenty minutes or an hour. We each have a stress tolerance level which when we breach it, sends us into turmoil, anxiety and breakdown. If you let your day start with many 'micro-stresses’ then you fill find yourself much more reactive and 'stressed’ during the day. Do this day after day and it results in chronic stress, which has been linked with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes and memory loss. Things you could do that fit into any of those time scales - meditate, move, and be grateful. And start with two minutes, it's more manageable - there's no habit to build on if there's nothing there initially!
Finally, and most importantly, pencil in the time to get these systems in place. To quote James Clear (where the inspiration came from for this article), 'you do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems’. I love this, it's so true. Treat this time as non-negotiable self-care time, as it will allow the rest of your day and week to fall into place. Neglect them, and lack of time, hunger and stress will be the basis of your day, making you reactive and not proactive.
Your 'willpower’ is finite, and you can't just 'try harder' with your goals; progress is not miraculous, it's consistency.
What kind things to you do for your future-me?