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Four Steps To Make Healthy Changes
Do you ever struggle with making changes in your life?
The trouble with making changes is that it means you have to actually change something!
I think it’s so interesting that even when we know that something isn’t good for us we often keep doing it? It feels good in the moment and then you feel bad after. Or we justify an action with all kinds of rationalizations, but deep down we know perfectly well that it’s not the best thing to do. Or maybe we’re so good with the justifications that by the end we’re not even sure anymore – maybe it WAS the right thing! Or not.
For me, recently, I’ve been struggling with my relationship with my computer. It’s been a bit of a surprise to me that becoming a movement teacher has meant so many hours in front of a screen. So many hours. I’m pretty good about taking movement breaks, and I stand, and sit on the floor, but deep down I know that there are some other changes I need to make.
So I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation, and barriers, and how to make the changes I need to get the life that I want. It was my birthday on Tuesday and I had a chance to really reflect on how I’d like to spend the next year. I thought that today, I’d share where I’m at.
Step One: Identify Your Barriers.
I work at home. I set my own hours, and outside of my teaching schedule, there is almost nothing that I HAVE to do at any given time. You would think that this would be pure undiluted awesomeness! No barriers whatsoever to shaping the life I want!
But it turns out that I’ve been very good at creating my own barriers! I find that I feel guilty any time I’m not working flat out. I’m learning that I’m very, very work-motivated. If an activity isn’t ‘productive’ I have a hard time making myself do it. I always have a giant to-do list, and if I’m not working on it, I’m thinking about it. I find it hard to tear myself away from my computer, even when I use a timer. And, I don’t think of all my tasks as equally important, either. I prioritize marketing and client service over my own movement practice – probably some old misplaced sense that if I’m enjoying myself it doesn’t count as work. Then I feel guilty about not moving enough as well as about not working enough, which is really not helpful.
Just realizing this about myself has been such an important first step. I’m trying hard to let go of guilt when I’m not working, and I’m also taking some real, substantial steps towards creating some change.
Step Two: Give Yourself Realistic Goals
I know that I work best when I have a goal that I can actually meet. As much as I would like to say that I’m going to do an hour long exercise class every single day, I know perfectly well that’s not going to happen. But, it is definitely achievable for me to set aside seven minutes every day. So I’ve decided to give myself a year long hanging challenge. 7 minutes (per arm) a day, every day, for a year. Just to see what happens. I can’t wait to see how my upper body changes this year!
Of course, I’ll also work in a few classes a week, plus my regular personal practice (which changes depending on my goals and how I’m feeling that day).
Step Three: Practice Really Taking Breaks
I’ve been finding that there are breaks, and there are breaks. Instagram is not actually a very good break for me. You know what is? Going into my garden, squatting down, and watching the caterpillars eat. I have three very attractive, fat and lively swallowtail caterpillars going to town on my dill and I love watching them. For some reason, it lets me totally switch out of work mode and into just experiencing life. I know that the garden is only here for the summer, but this has made me realize how important it is for me to get outside without any device or technology. So I’m committing to changing my break time. I’m making it technology-free, and staying off my email and social media on the weekends. And I’m also working to find things I love and I can get totally absorbed in, instead of doing things that feel like they’re just taking me away from the work I ‘should’ be doing.
Step Four: Limit Social Media Time
Being on Facebook and Instagram is part of how I’m building my business – and I really love to connect with people over these amazing portals. But I know how easy it is for me to fall prey to reading all those fascinating, forgettable articles filled with pictures of cats and embarrassing family Christmas photos. I don’t want to spend any more of my life than I have to on my computer, but I still want – and need – to have an online presence.
This year, I’m giving myself a Facebook schedule. Half an hour a day, at 2:00 p.m. (and an additional half hour at any other time if I need to jump on for business reasons).I’m hoping this change will give me time to stay connected, but enough limits to keep me sane. And my phone’s on airplane mode most of the time now, too. So email me if you need to get in touch 🙂
Staying sane in a crazy world
I’ve found that in general, I’m getting happier as I get older. I think a lot of this is because I understand myself and my needs better, and so I make better choices – and more changes. I wanted to share my birthday resolutions with you this year for a number of reasons. Partly to keep myself accountable. Partly to share what I struggle with – we’re all in this together and sometimes it’s good to realize that everyone is dealing with their own challenges, both unique and universal. And partly in the hopes that the strategies that work for me might give you a little inspiration in your own journey.
Petra is a movement educator and personal trainer with a passion for helping people find greater ease, joy and health in their bodies. She believes that better movement can help every body - and she's always happy to chat about it. When she's not teaching, you'll probably find her hanging out on a set of monkey bars.