“Show me where you’re spending your time, and I’ll tell you your values.”
I was reminded of that this week.
A dear friend from the community radio station where I used to be a presenter, passed away this week from cancer. We are at that age when our health risks escalate. If we don’t change things and focus on what’s truly important.
I can be as guilty as anyone on that front. When we were living in Malaysia, I worked with a personal trainer three times a week, and got plenty of steps in every single day. Then I came back to the UK and it dropped off the side of a cliff, even though there was a gym and swimming pool just yards from my front door.
If you’d looked at how I was spending my time then, you’d see that I spent most of my time on my clinical reports and dissertation. No prizes for guessing that my studies were topmost in my list of what I considered most important.
I have a habit of putting my work and others, ahead of myself. So the things that I know are good for me are usually pushed aside, even though I know that when I do those things, I feel and show up better in the other aspects of my life too.
Do you find the same?
Why is it that we don’t put ourselves right at the top of our own values list? Why is it that we usually value work and others more than we value ourselves?
I know that habit change is tough. It’s tough to change in the beginning, and then, even when the new habit is no longer new, other things can pull you off your focus. All kinds of things, from supposedly well-meaning friends who say, “Go on, you can start tomorrow,” to the workload that seemingly cannot wait, to your own mind saying, “I have to do this thing for [someone else], I’ll start tomorrow.” And then, before you know it, a whole year of tomorrows has gone by.
Will you wait until “something happens” before you evaluate and reprioritise what is truly important? If you knew exactly how much time you had left, would you reprioritise?
Here’s what I know. It’s not about reprioritising as such. It’s not about moving things around on a list of to dos, so that changing to healthier habits goes to the top of the list. If it was that, you’d have done it by now.
It’s about finding the meaning behind “that thing” that you keep meaning to do. It’s that meaning that is so meaningful to you and you alone, that you’ll do “that thing”.
The biggest mistake that we are prone to making is trying to change too much all at the same time, whether it’s the number of things we’re trying to change or the size of the thing we’re trying to change. It overwhelms us and we end up doing nothing.
Instead, we need to focus on doing only one thing. Consistently. For 66 days. 66 days because the research shows that that’s how long it takes for a habit to become automatic. That’s just over two months.
And that one thing needs to be small enough for it to be what I call a “slam dunk” action – an action that is 10 out of 10, no question, it’s done, and it’s done every day.
It could be committing to 10 minutes of guided meditation every day or even 5, doing half an hour of movement every day, going to bed ten minutes earlier every day, drinking an extra glass of water every day…
It’s not how big or how small the action is. It’s an action that’s good for you and one that you will do.
This is key, because your mind, helpful as it is, has a tendency to point out your failures. You know what I’m talking about? So you must show it that you can.
Then, get some support. Maybe you can ask a friend to send you a daily text message asking if you’ve done your habit that day, because that will help to keep you focused. Or maybe you’d like to know a favourite podcast of theirs that they know you’d love to listen to while doing your habit?
Ironically, we often shy away from asking for help and support for ourselves. Yet, support, accountability and community are powerful.
In fact, it’s so powerful that I’ve started up a Facebook Group to help with exactly that. I’ve called it The Menopause Reset Club. In it, I’m going to show up and teach and share what I know works, from the last 20 years of coaching and the last 5 years focused on nutrition (and biochemistry, of course!). It’s a private group, just for you. And please invite your girlfriends too. Let’s support each other through this time of our lives.
I think we’ll kick it off with a single habit challenge. What do you think?
Come and join me in the Facebook Group here.
One year from now, you could have made five different habit changes. Each of these can have a positive ripple effect on the different facets of your life. The worst thing about this time next year is wishing you’d started now.
What will you have started now that will make you so proud of yourself in one year’s time?
You are worth it.