FIRST STEPS TO REPLACING UNWANTED HABITS

Why is it so difficult to change our habits?

What is it in the brain that stops us from forming new, more beneficial habits?

And, is it actually possible to solidify more productive and positive routines? Yes, most definitely yes!

 

Today I’m delving into the topic of our actions. And when we really break it down, all of our actions (habits) form in our brain because of the programming its been subject to.

When we have put the packet of lollies away, but then keep going back to grab ‘just one more’, the reason we continually do this is because it’s routine. You like the lollies, you know they’re there, they’re easily accessible, it requires little effort to go back and get a few more and you do it regularly, so you know it is something you can get. While this habit can be fulfilling in the moment, later we usually are flooded with dread and regret because we’ve gone over the top. This is how many habits grow to have a negative effects on our mindset.

In these situations, it is the brain who is in control of it all. It is hard wired to function as efficiently as possible. We don’t even think twice about how to brush our teeth, or how to walk up the stairs because the habit happens almost instantaneously. Our brain’s main goal is to get things done with the least amount of effort and it ultimately wants to use the smallest amount of energy to perform any tasks required. The neural pathways in this way are aiming to be automatic, they have memorised repetitive patterns and keep reverting to doing the same thing. This is the very reason why habits are so hard to break.

A name it is commonly referred to is cognitive laziness. Our new, fruitful habits fail because we don’t want to land in the land of uncomfortable. Our brain wants to keep doing things that are efficient. And Why? Because when things are NOT efficient they are harder! Cognitive laziness, therefore, is when our brain reverts to doing the same thing over and over again and doesn’t worry about learning new things.

Unfortunately, this cognitive laziness can be deeply rooted into our subconscious, and for us to change the dreaded habits and solidify new routines, there’s no easy way to say it – you’ll have to work extremely hard!

The best answer I’ve found, we literally have to train our brains to do a new thing. And this does take effort. And it’s not always easy. And we will want to give up or quit. BUT if our need to overcome the negative habit is greater than the habit itself. We can do it, and we’ll be extremely thankful for it when we master getting rid of the unwanted actions and replace them with fulfilling habits.

Some of the strategies I’ve found to help:

  • Focus on the little things first.

If you want to wake earlier each morning, nail this habit then move onto something more challenging. The more success you have with little habits, the more willing you’ll be to actually try change those more challenging or deeply rooted habits.

  • Actually look at your brain and acknowledge your thoughts.

If your brain is telling you to do the thing you want to stop, be kind to yourself, approach with non-judgement and politely tell it no, that was the old me! You want to understand your thoughts, but you also need to remember thoughts are just thoughts. It’s not truth till you take action, so YOU decide what actions you want to take.

  • Understand effort is required and actively take part in changing.

You must be conscious. YOU must take control. Every time you catch yourself doing the undesired habit, be aware and replace the thought with more beneficial actions. If you want to cut down on drinking alcohol through the week, don’t buy it at the supermarket. If you have it in the house, hide it in a place where you won’t be tempted!

  • When the brain does resist, you need energy to overcome that resistance

Focus on your goal and plan to have success. The best way for this is to think in advance. You must plan how you’re going to change the habit. If your habit is to start exercising in the evening, have your exercise wear ready to go, don’t wait till you get home, are exhausted from work and want to just lay down because your lazy brain will go along with your thoughts and enjoy doing nothing.

In my opinion the biggest piece of advice is keeping to repeated patterns. REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT till it’s solid!

Give these a go if you’re trying to overcome something that is persistent in your routine. Remember there is no quick fix so you must put in the time and effort to see the results.

Goodluck!

With love,

Nellie

 

8 MORNING HABITS TO HACK PRODUCTIVITY

Hands up if you are a person who sets new, inspiring goals every day or week, but are also the person who usually doesn’t stick to or achieve them? If this resonates with you, I’m assuming you may feel hints of frustration, self-doubt, low motivation and little to no drive. I am able to pinpoint these emotions because a few months back I was in the situation where I continuously let myself down by not following through with my goal setting. It causes that sinking feeling of worthlessness and kills the positivity and productivity that should be radiating from you. Why is it that we sabotage ourselves with such unattainable goals then? From my own experience, it is never the case of not being able to reach the goals, rather it is the routines and habits (we get stuck in) that hold us back from achieving our full potential.

My downfall:

When I finally decided to quit my job, move overseas and create a new life for myself, I found I had developed into a less driven and focussed person. I am usually not so inactive in my approach to life and/or work but with the combination of too much spare time and no foreseeable job prospect, I became lazy and kept making excuses for why I didn’t need to do something. After a few weeks of this spiraling downfall – I’d had enough of the setbacks. This slump in motivation had come at a time when I had more freedom than ever, yet was using the bare minimum of my time to do something meaningful.

I then realised, the days where my inactivity was at its worst, were also the same days that I slept in late, didn’t have a nutritious breakfast and didn’t have a solid plan for the day. I would wake feeling unmotivated and that carried on throughout the day.

I really had to do some reflective thinking on myself, my life and the type of person I used to be, and the type of person I wanted to be. What I realised, is when I have been the most successful, had the most abundance, and been the most productive – I had habitual morning rituals which I followed every single day. This ‘uh huh’ moment gave me clarity on what I needed to be doing and that very next morning I got back on track striving for fulfilment, purpose and meaning in my days.

What I found to work:

1. Get up at the same time every morning.

Not only is this good for establishing your routine and body clock, it also allows you the time to complete your morning practices without being rushed. If you decide 7:00am is the right time for you to wake – set your alarm at 6:55am and once the second (and final) alarm goes at 7:00am, you have no excuse but to be jumping from bed. In my opinion, waking earlier rather than later is key – if you are incredibly productive with your morning, you can relax for the afternoon 🙂

 2. Meditate before anything else.

Meditation clears the pathway to happiness. Over time and with practice, meditation allows you to turn off the internal chatter of the mind and get more in touch with feelings and intuition. Meditation has a whole array of health benefits, in addition to increasing mental performance and productivity, it can reduce blood pressure, improve skin conditions and decrease chronic pain. If you don’t have a meditation practice I suggest starting with guided meditation. Read this post on ways you can access guided zen meditations.

3. Set your intention(s) for the day.

Be clear on what you want to achieve and how you will be successful. We are successful every single day, even a small thing such as being polite to everyone we interact with is a success! Be clear on what it is you want to achieve and make it happen. Once you say, write or think it, it’s come into existence so don’t go back on your word!

4. Drink a large glass of fresh lemon water (I love with addition of apple cider vinegar).

The lemon is alkalising, and the water assists in the digestive process. Warm is best as cold water can hinder the process. Similarly, the apple cider vinegar helps to support a healthy alkaline pH level and it is effective with stimulating digestive juices, which in result help the body break down food.

5. Have a green juice or smoothie.

Starting the day with this type of liquid allows you to get a decent dose of vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals (phytonutrients). A further KEY element of the green juice is to include a good dose of a healthy fat e.g. coconut oil or avocado. Coconut oil is a MCT (medium chain triglyceride) meaning it is a type of fatty acid that assists with nutrient absorption and digestion. More on MCTs can be found here.

6. Make yourself a bulletproof coffee.

If you don’t know about bulletproof, head to their website to find out more.

7. Exercise

Even just a teeny tiny bit! Get your body moving and your brain gets grooving. It really doesn’t need to be much to start seeing the benefits. Yoga specifically gives mental, emotional, physical and spiritual benefits – all which help in reducing stress-related health problems. Additionally, when we exercise and work our heart, we can reduce the likelihood of developing heart disease, stroke and/or diabetes.

8. Use positive affirmations- Ideally in the mirror.

You need to look at yourself and mean what you say to truly manifest the prosperity you deserve. Checkout some of our favourites here.

Give these a go and set yourself up for success. Plan for and manifest the abundance you deserve!

Bye for now,

Nellie xo

 

4 WAYS TO CREATE EFFECTIVE CHECKLISTS

One thing that really makes life more meaningful and productive is…. Checklists! No matter how your day is going, if you’ve created a list of tasks to complete, regardless of how big or small they are – you’ll feel satisfaction at the end of the day when you can tick them off as achieved.

From my own experience, if I have a day off and I want to dedicate it to washing, cleaning, groceries (all those mundane life activities) if I have a checklist, I am reminded to do them and usually have it completed much earlier in the day. This then allows more time for freedom and relaxation later in the evening.

While I do have a great love of checklists, there is some caution to be made. What I have found, for myself anyway, is when a list is too unrealistic, too big, too difficult or not attainable – failure can set it. This opens the floodgates for frustration, defeat, feelings of incompetence and/or the thought of being a non achiever.

To effectively dodge these curve-balls, here is some advice I’ve found to be useful:

1. Be concise, yet specific.

You want to know what you are achieving but don’t want to be too detailed you turn yourself off the task. Be clear of the end result and work towards achieving it. If it is a list for what you want to achieve in the day, I always keep mine dot point specific, e.g morning meditation, yoga, breakfast, work, groceries, relax and bath, prep for dinner, blogging, evening chill out. If it is a checklist for the week, say a meal plan, I would detail the recipe names and days that I will use them e.g,

Monday
Breakfast: Glass of lemon water with apple cider vinegar, Rhubarb and blueberry smoothie, bulletproof coffee

Brunch: Carrot sticks and homemade hummus

Lunch: Kale and red cabbage salad

Dinner: Pea and parsnip soup

If it is a checklist for a task that has multiple steps and it will need to be completed over various days, I suggest being more specific, e.g. writing what exactly needs to be done on each day and linking from one task to the next. You should see a progression and know what is to come next in the sequence.

An analogy presented by T. Harv Eker about organisation and goal setting which I’ve found to be useful is the idea of planning based on priority of events. He makes reference to trying to fit rocks, sand and water into a vase and how it is only possible when done in a specific order. The thought is if we try to fill a vase by putting water, then sand and gravel, there won’t be any space for the big rocks – big rocks being big goals. If, however, we place the big rocks first, followed by gravel, sand and then the water, it will be successful because the smaller gravel and water will fill in the space around the big rocks. In the same way, when we have a busy life and a lot scheduled already it can be challenging to find time for projects we have been wanting to work on. Now when I fill in my calendar I first pen in the big rocks (for me it is working on a skin care range and getting this website up and running), then the gravel rocks (my weekly work and income sources), then sand (exercise, journal writing, creative activities), and finally water (eating healthy by meal planning, cleaning duties and household jobs). In this way the vase doesn’t get overloaded and I only schedule 1 or 2 big rocks for the week and make sure I give myself focused time to achieve it.

2. Keep things to a minimum.

We only have 12 hours in the day for work and play. Don’t overkill. Unless they’re simple tasks that don’t require much time nor effort, keep it succinct and to the point. It’s easy to get carried away with all the things we want complete, but we have to remember some tasks are larger and take more time and effort. If a task has to be completed over various days, so be it, you want each day to be fulfilling so don’t burn out because you put too much pressure on yourself.

3. Be reasonable.

If you know you won’t be running 10 miles every day, don’t put it on your to do list. However, don’t let fear be an excuse for why you aren’t taking action. If you want to create something, do the required thinking about the steps and get the wheels in motion. You need to tap into your inner power and make whatever you want work. You are in control of your thinking, therefore you are in charge of your actions and whether or not you’ll be meeting the tasks you put on your checklists.

4. Use time-limit deadlines only if it’s achievable.

If you’re starting work later in the day, it can be beneficial to put in time specific cut-off points. My only caution is make sure you’re using common sense – if you only have 3 hours and plan to start and submit a report, it’s probably not a reasonable time-frame. Whereas, if listening to your favourite podcast takes 40 minutes, why not pencil in one hour (say from 9:15am-10:15am) to give yourself breather time between tasks.

Remember the main point of a checklists is to be successful, so set them in a way that gives you fulfilment and wins. We all love winning 🙂

I’d love to hear your strategies and approaches to checklists. If you have some wisdom to share please comment below.

With love,

Nellie