How to Create a New Habit (and actually stick to it).
The first time someone told me they practiced yoga everyday I immediately thought to myself they must be crazy, unemployed or addicted to exercise.
I’d only just started practicing and taking three classes a week felt HUGE. At the time, anything more would have seemed excessive, as if I’d have to give up some big part of my life in return.
There are two main problems involved in starting something new. The first is the most obvious – I don’t have time. The second is a little more difficult to say out loud – what would I have to give up in order to make space for this?
Regardless of whether we are addicted to smoking, sugar, or scrolling, we all have many habits that we cling to very tightly – even when we know they’re not good for us. We also have many habits that we are completely unaware of that take our time, energy, and restrict space for the new to come through.
Without sitting down and figuring out why I felt almost attacked by someone else practicing yoga everyday, I already knew.
It’s not like I was a bad drunk, but I drank often, and I suffered terribly from hangovers that would prevent me from dragging my ass to yoga. But of course, instead of admitting that was the reason, I told myself a story about the other person and all the reasons why they could do something I couldn’t.
Recently I have been having the conversation about starting new habits often. It comes up in the beginners yoga courses I teach, about veganism and ethical fashion, and it is a huge part of my conversation around rest.
It is interesting to observe that most people immediately say I can’t before even considering what can might look like.
Over the years, as I have become more interested in yoga and looking after my physical and emotional health, I have developed a strategy for introducing new, good habits without feeling as though I’m giving up a big part of myself, my life, or the other things I love.
I developed these steps mainly because if I try to introduce something from 0-100 I won’t actually do at all. There are so many things I never allowed myself to take up because I couldn’t imagine ever having the time or space to do it, until I found a way to work firmly, yet gently with myself. I hope you find this helpful too.
This is the premise of what I call Seven Days of Rest. It’s a free, week-long challenge where you commit to resting as little as five minutes each day. I pop a Seven Days of Rest schedule in every Club Rest workshop to encourage taking up rest slowly, yet steadily, to make it a daily practice.
Accept failure but don’t accept giving up:
You will 100% fuck up, get disheartened, skip one day, skip two days, skip three. Catch yourself in the resistance and the not doing it. Be kind to your human-ness and start again. For extra points write down in a journal what your reasons were - not in a judgemental way, but just get it out on paper. Try to move away from simply writing ‘busy’ and look for what is beneath that. It can get really interesting.
Give yourself a time frame:
Try to choose a time frame you can stick with. Maybe it’s just a week. A month is better, but if a month stands in the way of you starting at all, take it down until it feels manageable. After that week try to keep going. If you stop – notice the difference in how you feel as opposed to when you were doing this new daily habit.
Be strict (and then be soft)
At the beginning of trying something new you have to be kinda tough on yourself. The excuses your mind and body will attempt to make up in order to stop you from doing something new is MIND BLOWING. Obviously if something really drastic happens don’t cling to your thing kicking and screaming, but for that first time frame, Just Do It. Do it every single day. And then when you have found a rhythm, you’ll know when you need to listen to your body, and when you’re simply getting in your own way.
What do you want to take up? Is it rest? Meditation? Daily asana? Body brushing?
My most recent one is shopping at the markets and the local co-op for most (and eventually all) of my produce. I thought it wasn’t possible because I don’t have a car and the co-op isn’t as conveniently located as the grocery store, but so far I’m on track and it feels really great!!
If you’re wanting to take up conscious rest so you have more energy, clarity and creativity then join us for the next free intake of Seven Days of Rest starting March 1st!