Baby steps add up to become great leaps
I have to admit that I’m amazed by a lot of great changes in my life that happened since the start of 2017 through a series of small personal challenges which I’ve blogged probably a little too much about (see links below…)! In a little over 3 months , I’ve kept and built over half of my resolutions so far:
- I started waking up consistently at 7am every morning. As an added bonus, the first thing I do every morning is drink a glass of water when I wake up.
- I’ve been meditating daily for the past 60 days now following my 30 day Meditate or Chocolate challenge I did with a friend of mine.
- With that same friend, we began a fitness challenge, running together at least once a week (we’ve bumped up to twice a week now and hopefully by May, we can be ready for the Brussels 20km.)
- Other than running, I’ve started a regular home yoga practice with free yoga videos I find on YouTube (check out the Yoga with Adriene videos which are really fun and light and motivating). I still haven’t gotten around to fitting a real yoga course into the mix but that will come shortly hopefully.
- For the month of March, I’m doing a daily writing challenge with the same friend yet again who is for her part, doing a daily drawing challenge this month.
- You’ve heard all about my 30 day Impro and creation challenge!
- AAAAAND as an added bonus, in the spirit of Lent, I decided to go vegetarian for 40 days.
Stop… Breathe… Ok WOOOOW!!! Sorry, I don’t want to brag but I’m truly baffled really at how many habits I actually managed to implement and for the most part, I’ve been able to stick to them up to now (hopefully fast forward 9 months from now, I’ll be able to say the same thing). How do you ask was I able to perform this Herculean task (a true first for me in my short lived life)? I’m no wonder woman believe me, but clearly, there’s something I’ve done differently this start of year and here’s what!
3 small changes in your environment to jump start your other lifestyle changes!
Physically reorganizing and creating space
After planning out the changes I wanted and writing down my New Years resolution, I simply started physically creating space in my environment to help me commit to these changes.
At first, the changes in my physical environment were barely noticeable and I wasn’t really doing it consciously. For example, when I started waking up at 7am every morning, I noticed how much I loved that snooze button on my alarm so I decided to put my phone far away from my bed to force myself to get out of bed in the morning. When starting my yoga practice, I put out yoga clothes the night before and sometimes I even went to bed in my yoga pants to be sure I would have no excuse not to do yoga the next morning… These are just small examples that really helped me.
Being inspired by my mom who was also in a cleaning and reorganizing frenzy this year, I also began to clean and reorganize my room, desk, library and space around my piano. I even ended up moving mye electric keyboard into my room. I decluttered and rearranged continuously a little at a time my whole environment and every time, I created a place for me to work on my habits.
Now, every morning when I wake up, the keyboard is the first thing I see and it reminds me of my commitment to improvising and creating daily (and it means I have no excuse not to do it because my headphone let me play at any time day or night…) Every night before I go to bed, I see also my small diary sitting on my clear desk calling for me to write even just one small line.
When you transform your environment so that it empowers you to make the important changes in your life, you find less resistance, you find less excuses, you also make it a bit harder to fall back into your old patterns.
Transforming your social environment and creating a support and accountability system
As you noticed in the list above, I haven’t really gone at it alone when making most of these small changes in habits. Making small changes for yourself is great but it often gets really hard because if you only commit to yourself, when you do slip, you are the only one that knows it. The only person you disappoint is yourself and let’s face it, we are so used to not living up to all that we say we’ll do, we usually get over self disappointment pretty easily… Especially if we just arbitrarily decide to make the commitment to ourselves and we don’t share it with anyone or we do share it with others but just occasionally act on it. Eventually we forget what we say if we don’t commit or act.
For me, the first step was putting my commitments in writing. It was already an important one because it made the changes I wanted for myself all the more real and it also allowed me to see if they were actually realistic or not. And the next most important step was committing to others if needed. For every single one of these challenges, I created some form of support and accountability system whether it be with an App, or a friend, or a family member. That way, when I did slip (and I still do quite often…), I’d have a system that allowed to catch me and bounce back.
I use a habit Tracker App , as well as another app called Fabulous Day to track my progress and set up a motivating morning routine. I already talked about Insight Timer for meditation which is really great of course you know all about my great friend with whom I do fun motivating goofy challenges and with whom I go running out in the grey rainy parks of Brussels (yes… It almost ALWAYS seems to be raining out when we go for a run…)
On a side note, I’ve started to see that since I’ve started my new degree in music writing, I’ve also completely changed my environment in a way and met a whole new set of people(including a few young composers) which has also inspired me to create and changed my view on composing and performing.
Changing your perception of your environment
Having my environment work for me instead of against me was already a great step forward so was getting support and accountability from friends, but it wasn’t enough because I still had to fight the biggest Block to making any personal change : the mean green, lazy, procrastinating and self destructive voice in my head telling me “you’re just not good enough”, “you don’t have time to do this”, “one hour of sleep won’t do you any harm quite the contrary”, “you really don’t feel like getting out there in the cold miserable rain for a run do you?””You’ll just do it tomorrow”… Sound familiar to anyone?
Meditating has helped tremendously to listen and notice this continuous inner critique in my mind. I dare say it helped me silence it at times but let’s be honest, it will never be silenced, at least not for long enough. Mostly, meditation helped me listen beyond that little voice of mine and pursue what was important to me despite it. It allowed me to not let myself be stopped by those thoughts when they inevitably arose.
This step in fact is probably the first and most important step of all before transforming your physical and social environment but it also happens to be the hardest… But I will leave this idea for another day another post…
Hope you enjoyed and do leave a comment to let me know how you’ve changed your environment recently what changes that’s brought to your life!