Are you planning on making a New Year Resolution? Or have you decided 2022 is the year you write that book or build your own business?
Perhaps you are struggling to fit the changes you want to make into your daily routine or keep forgetting to take those vitamin supplements every day.
Whatever change you want to make, in this episode I’m sharing my top five tips to help you build a consistent and long-lasting daily practice without having to overhaul your life overnight!
To find out how to work with me visit www.camillafellasarnold.com/creativepower
For episode transcripts visit: https://camillafellasarnold.com/category/podcast/
Connect or work with holistic practitioner Emily Tuck to help you work on your subconscious self image: www.emilytuck.com
Welcome to episode 6 of Creative Power!
So now we’re in this weird period that exists between Christmas and the New Year where everyone has eaten too much and no one has any idea what day it is. During this period more often than not, thoughts start to turn to the upcoming year. And you’re probably getting familiar with hearing things like, ‘that’s it, the diet starts on the 1st of January!’ or it’s a ‘New Year, New Me’, you know what I mean. Perhaps you’ve even said something like it yourself because you want things to change.
Now, personally, I don’t prescribe to the concept of New Year’s resolutions because I was never very good at sticking to them. Instead what I have become very good at in the past couple of years is building consistent, daily habits that are both creative and non-creative.
So whether you are planning to make a New Year’s resolution or not, I’m sure you’ve got things you’d like to change, things you’d like to start doing or improving and in today’s episode I’m going to share with you five tips I’ve learnt through the process of building my daily habits of things journaling, meditating, learning a language and writing poetry. Let’s dive in!
Tip number one: it’s all in the preparation.
You know how someone gets fed up when their jeans won’t fit and angrily announces their diet starts tomorrow. Then they end up eating lettuce for a week because they either don’t have anything in the cupboard or don’t know what they can eat that will keep them on track? Yeah… that doesn’t end well!
What worked for me was taking time to really evaluate what I wanted to change and ask myself what I was genuinely prepared to do about it. How much do I really want this change? If I don’t REALLY want it or I have a secondary gain to keeping things the same, then my heart won’t be in it, therefore all the gusto I throw into it, to begin with, will fade pretty quickly.
So take the time to think about it. What do you want to do, start, improve or change? I have Cypriot heritage but grew up in the UK and didn’t spend much time with my Cypriot family so learning Greek has always been on my list of things I wanted to do but I never got around to it. And before I knew it, time was passing, I was 30 so my ability to learn languages as well I did in my 20s was gone and still didn’t know more than a few words. This wasn’t okay with me! I asked myself what was I willing to do about it? And just as importantly, what could I feasibly do about it? I sat with those questions for a while and really felt into them.
I didn’t feel confident attending in-person lessons straight away so I looked at what I could do instead and found the Duolingo app. It has a good free version, it’s simple, cleanly designed, sends you reminders, is fun to use (see upcoming tip number five!) and I could use it in my own time. Perfect! To date, I have been using Duolingo daily for over 420 days at the time of recording and I only spend as much time as I want on there every day. And I can now build on that anytime I want by adding in-person lessons for example but this time it won’t be such a leap because I’ve already started moving in the direction of achieving it.
This leads directly onto my next tip number two: start small.
It can be so tempting when you see all those special introductory offer prices to sign up for gym membership and throw yourself into working out every day of the week for an hour a day. But you are going to run out of steam pretty quickly and you’ll drop the habit like a hot potato.
Then you’ll be mad at yourself for stopping yet unable to get yourself started again, you’ll feel like a failure, nothing will change and you’re still at square one… it’s a whole rubbish thing, let me tell you. Been there, got the t-shirt! To this day my desire to build a yoga habit or get fitter goes in fits and starts. Blatantly there’s something underlying in my subconscious that’s getting in the way but we’ll get into that later.
For now, my advice is, start small. Like I said with my desire to learn Greek, I spend no more than 10-15 minutes maximum on the app a day. Some days it’s less than five. I still show up every day regardless (at this point mainly because a) I don’t want to lose my streak and b) Duolingo sends emails making me feel bad for not logging on each day if I don’t!) but my point still stands.
We have a lot of responsibilities and things to do so what is the one step you can take every day that will take you closer to achieving what you want? It can be the tiniest step but it’s still one more step in the right direction that shows your willingness to try.
And my next tip will help you make that small step even easier.
Tip number three: habit stacking is your friend.
I learnt about habit stacking in the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. The basic idea is this; if there’s some action you want to take, look at where you can slot it into your existing routine and stack several actions together to make it easier to keep up with the new habit.
For example, say you were wanting to take a vitamin tablet or supplement but kept forgetting to take it. You could put the box by the kettle so that when you’re making a cup of tea, you see it and can take the table while the kettle boils. That is habit stacking. Or perhaps you want to go to the gym twice a week but never seem to get round to it because you’re comfy and warm working from home. Could you pack your gym clothes at the same time as you sort out your kid’s bag for school and then take a detour after the school run to hit the gym? You were already out of the house so it’s not such a stretch and it is easier to ingrain the habit into your life when you stack it into other actions that you do automatically.
So take a look at your existing routine and the new habits and practices you want to build for yourself. Where could you slot something in that wouldn’t feel like such a huge leap?
And it’s avoiding this huge leap that we really want to focus on. Because when we stretch ourselves too far and it feels really uncomfortable and unnatural, is when we’re more likely to let it slide. There’s a snap-back point where we revert back to type. And this is where my next tip comes in.
Tip number four: Work on your subconscious self-image
I don’t think this gets talked about enough in terms of building a daily practice or forming new habits but it’s the difference between wanting to change and actually being able to achieve the change long-term if you ask me.
Have you ever noticed that the gym gets a lot quieter by mid-February? That’s the snapback point I’m talking about. Everyone joins the gym on 1st January and throws themselves in it with gusto for a few weeks. All is going well but eventually, their subconscious self-image catches up with them and they sabotage themselves in order to maintain the vision they have of who they are in the world.
This was certainly true for me. I’ll be the first to tell you I’ve never been the sporty type which is and isn’t completely true. As a child, I was highly active having done ballet and tap dancing and had won a gold medal in gymnastics. This remained true up until puberty when the girls at school became cruel and I felt the need to hide away. I didn’t want to show myself or stand out so started to avoid PE lessons and dropped my much-loved gymnastics.
Then, in order to maintain my self-image as not-a-sports-person, I developed tendonitis. It was excruciatingly painful for years and it also granted me a doctor’s note excusing me from any physical education for the rest of my academic life when eventually, miraculously, the tendonitis disappeared almost overnight.
Fast forward to a few months into lockdown and I was doing daily yoga, high-intensity interval training and an hour daily walking with my dogs. I was starting to notice the positive changes in my body when… ah! Right on cue, tendonitis reared its ugly head again. I could barely walk for weeks. I certainly couldn’t do any HIIT training or yoga so I let it slide and got out of the habit.
This is exactly what I’m talking about. And without any work on my subconscious self-image of myself, that is exactly what will stay the same.
Now talking about changing your subconscious self-image could easily be a whole other episode but for the interests of brevity, here’s the deal.
If your subconscious self-image doesn’t match up with who you want to BE in the world, there’s a gap you need to close. And there’s so many ways you could do that. There are tools like Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT tapping) or hypnosis and that’s only two suggestions I’m thinking of off the top of my head but there’s plenty of different tools out there. But what all these tools do is help you work on those limiting beliefs, fears, blocks etc and supports you in transmuting and transforming them into something new. In a new subconscious self-image that sees you as a person who is fit and healthy doing yoga daily or is in creative flow and can draw every day for example.
Working on your subconscious self-image IS tough but it is worth it. I highly recommend you working with a trained practitioner though, don’t dive in on your own if you don’t know what you’re doing! And I’m just going to take a quick second to recommend my dear collaborative work partner, Emily Tuck who has helped me walk my own journey of inner transformation. She’s incredible at what she does! I’ll leave a link in the show notes if you want to check out her work and how she can help you.
But back to tip number four, at some point, you do need to look at the subconscious things that are standing in your way if you’re struggling to change things in your life. I think the question to ask yourself is, how willing are you to do whatever it takes to achieve this goal?
As I said though, this can be a tough road so let’s lighten the load with my last tip.
Tip number five: make it fun!
The whole point of changing things and making New Year’s resolutions is because we want to bring ourselves closer to happiness and our dream life, is it not? So this step is crucial, even though it’s often forgotten because so many of us prescribe to the adage, ‘no pain, no gain’. And while this is true in a sense (see tip number four), we still want to enjoy ourselves on the journey, do we not? If it’s all a hard slog and you keep hoping that one day you’ll get there, that one day you’ll be skinny and happy, then… it’s a long , sad road up until that point without any guarantee of the happiness at the end.
SO instead, make it fun now!
With my desire to learn a language, I really went for it with the gamification and started using an app that is cute, fun and has things like levels to unlock and coins to earn so the whole process of learning becomes a game. We do this with children so why not ourselves?
Get creative with your thinking on this one! How can you make it fun to achieve your goal? What rewards do you want to give yourself? I highly recommend having small and big rewards so you’re not waiting for ages for the one big reward.
I worked with a client earlier this year who came to me struggling to write descriptive passages of text. After one session and reading a sample description of which there was really nothing wrong, I could see his issue wasn’t his skill but the confidence he had in his skill. This lack of confidence was the underlying subconscious issue. I presented this to him and he agreed to work on it in our following sessions.
One of the exercises I encouraged him to do outside of sessions was keeping a record of his wins through the week. Anything positive that happened, he wrote it down. And for each thing he wrote down, he put a pound in a jar. At the end of the week, he took the money from the jar and bought himself a bottle of wine to celebrate! This exercise alone did wonders for his confidence because he could visually SEE the positive things, both in the list and in the money in the jar. This exercise is great because you can adapt it to any goal and if you try it, I’d love to hear how it works for you.
One final point I’d like to make is, remember that perfection is a myth. We all have off days, we all slip up. It’s okay. It’s part of being human and having a human experience. If you have a day where you miss your writing window or you eat five slices of cake, don’t be hard on yourself. Be kind and take a deep breath. We can always start again in the next breath, it doesn’t mean everything is ruined because you missed one day.
And there you have it. My five top tips for starting any kind of daily practice.
So, what daily habits are you going to work on building? Personally, I’m going to continue to solidify my new writing habit and look at whatever underlying behind the yoga I want to do but keep putting off.
I’d love to hear what daily practice you are bringing into the new year so do reach out, send me a message, connect with me on social media, let me know and I will see you in the next episode in 2022!.