2020 was an interesting year to take on this experiment but the timing ended up impeccable. In a year full of things out of my control, I found something each month I could.
I was not seeking perfection. Some months I started, failed, and decided to take the month off. Some months I decided to change my goal and take on a completely different habit than the one originally planned. Those ended up being some of my favorite.
At the end of the year, I added or subtracted 8 total habits. Most importantly I adjusted my mindset about my life and how easy it can be to change it, should I want to.
Here is one of the biggest things I’ve learned. If you want to run. Run. If you want to do yoga, do yoga. If you want to meditate. Meditate. Just start doing the thing you want to do. It doesn’t have to look perfect, you don’t have to do it for hours a day. Just consistently do something to see a positive change over time and just start.
It’s easy to mentally create a list of the millions of reasons why this won’t work. All the barriers.
Instead, use the few minutes spent coming up with that list of why there is not enough time, energy, and money to do these things, to simply start doing these things.
For three years after my son was born, I agonized over how to start exercising again. I researched gyms and visited them, sought out yoga classes, and created the perfect schedule for how I could potentially add running back into my life. Guess what all that planning and preparation got me? Nothing. Instead of using what limited time I had to exercise, I used that time to plan how I was going to exercise.
After a year of doing my mini monthly experiments with three of the months focused primarily on exercise, things finally changed.
One month my goal was to run. I wasn’t trying to run a marathon or even a 5k. There was no particular run time or mileage goal. I just wanted to get in the habit of running again after taking three years off. No fancy apps, shoes, or clothing was purchased. The goal was to wake up in the morning and run around my neighborhood until I didn’t feel like running anymore. I didn’t have to run every day, just a couple of times a week. For someone who hadn’t run in so long, this was big.
By the end of the month, I could run a mile and a half in a respectable time and felt good at the end of it. I know this might not seem like a huge feat, but for me it was. I’d gotten over the mental block and gotten back out there.
Another month the goal was to do yoga every day. I didn’t have to do an hour of crazy, hard challenging yoga…just something. I found a yoga channel on YouTube. At first, I did the same 20-minute video. It was difficult on day one but by the end of the first week, it got easier. I tried video after video on this particular YouTube channel, doing yoga for free without leaving my home on my 20-year-old exercise mat. Sometimes with my three-year-old crawling on top of me. I got to the end of the month and learned how much I love yoga and that this is my preferred method of exercise. I continue to do yoga almost daily now.
Another month I decided to do push-ups. I’ve always thought it’s super cool when I see a woman bust out a bunch of push-ups. This has not been me. I’ve never been able to do more than one. The goal this month was to do push-ups every day and see how many I could do by the end of the month. I did this simply by each day trying to do more than the day before. At the end of the month, the day before my 38th birthday I did 20 push-ups. By doing them consistently every day I had easily made it up to this goal. Honestly, this was almost more of a mental accomplishment for me than a physical one. I accomplished something, that I once thought I would never be able to do.
I went from not exercising, to doing yoga every day, being able to run a mile and a half comfortably, and being able to do push-ups, simply because I did something. I showed up without becoming frozen in perfectionism and no longer waiting for the perfect time or environment. I did a little every day, consistently. I stopped planning to do things and talking about doing things and making excuses for why I couldn’t do things and just did things.
I also went from “I have to do these things”, to “I want to do these things”. There is a desire to do them knowing how much better I feel when I do. I didn’t start out like that, but by showing up daily a little bit at a time I ended up there.
At the end of this year, I’ve learned that every day whether I am aware of it or not I have daily habits and routines. My brain is set to autopilot from the moment I wake up. I’ve learned to become aware of the habits and asked myself whether they are congruent with how I really want to spend my time and my life and now feel confident I can change them if they aren’t.
About the Author: Nikki Cox is a mommy of two striving to clear away the clutter both physical and emotional so she can live life with intention and clarity. Find her at Lovelylucidlife.com.