How often do you set an intention to start a regular practice that is beneficial to your health, body and/or mind? Like going to the gym, meditating, or drinking a green juice. How easy do you find these intentions to stick to?
I’ve been thinking about why we often find it so difficult to stick with such practices. There’s a lot to be said for introducing new habits slowly, allowing enough time for them to settle as part of your routine and I’m a great fan of what Gretchen Rubin has to say on the matter. That said, I’ve come to wondering… Are we are too restrictive when setting personal intentions and new habits? Maybe if we gave ourselves a bit more flexibility, it would result in better outcomes… Take going to the gym, for example. Why do we specify going to the gym, when the general objective is to exercise. And drinking a green juice… is the general objective not to simply increase nutrient intake?
I’ve been experimenting with creating new habits by first looking at the objective, rather than the specific method. Going to the gym becomes exercise and green juice becomes increasing nutrient intake. Once I have the objective, I look at all the different ways it can be achieved and identify the ways that suit me. Here’s an example:
Now rather than having one method of exercising, I have 7 plus. On the days I don’t feel like going to the gym, I have 7 other methods of exercise to choose from, meaning I’m far less likely to force myself to go to the gym and hate every minute, or not go at all and feel like I’ve failed, or quit, or any other negative emotion that comes with not ‘sticking to it’.
This method is about altering mindset and creating opportunity. Referred to as Toolboxes, I’ve created them for mindfulness, exercise, self-care and diet. They mean that when I don’t feel like the gym, for example, I ‘look through’ my Toolbox and choose to do the thing that jumps out the most, whether that’s to walk or practice Yoga or go to Crossfit. Also included is a ‘nothing’ option… Making ‘nothing’ a conscious decision somehow makes it a choice from a place of empowerment, not defeat. Sounds backwards but it works! It all boils down to listening to what my body wants and needs, and being prepared with choices, just as I do when choosing what food to eat. I’ve found it has resulted in me being able to stick with my intentions more than I did before.
What areas in your life could you create Toolboxes for? Give it a go and see if this method works for you.