Like many folks, I’ve been spending some time looking back at this past year. It may sound cliché, but there’s something very powerful about reviewing where you’ve been.
First off, it helps me see how far I’ve come!
I think most of us are so focused on where we want to go that we forget to pay attention to the progress we’ve made. That’s certainly true for me.
Day to day life is like walking up a staircase, keeping your eyes on the step right in front of you, and the many, many steps that climb up into the distance.
The New Year (or a birthday, or other significant annual moment in time) provides a convenient stopping point to turn around and look down at all the steps you’ve climbed. While you’re focused on climbing, it can feel like you’ve only gained a couple of feet of altitude, but when you turn around, you realize you’ve climbed several stories!
So what changed for me in 2015? What did I accomplish? Let’s start with the “soft” stuff, because that’s one place where I feel I’ve made the biggest strides this year.
My Big Self-Care Strides in 2015
2015 marked my third year of meditating daily, and my third year of getting chiropractic and massage every two to three weeks, both acts of self-care that have made an enormous difference in my life.
But self-care and self-compassion are practices that I still have a lot of room to grow in. In particular, getting to bed at a reasonable hour, and getting regular exercise, have long felt like impossible goals.
This was the year that I actually made them happen!
Win #1: Early to Bed, Early to Rise
I did run a successful early bedtime experiment back in 2012, my Year of Self-Compassion, getting to bed — lights out — by 11:00 pm every night in the month of January.
Wow! What a difference! It took a few days to adjust, but I felt so much better! I had more energy, got more done, it was great!
Unfortunately, it didn’t stick…
A few months later, I gradually slipped back to later and later bedtimes, and although I still liked the idea of getting to bed by 11:00 pm, it mostly didn’t happen.
That changed this past Spring.
Although I have had my share of late nights since then, mostly these have been the exception, rather than the rule, usually when I’m out for a special event — seeing a show or performing in one.
I am absolutely thrilled that an 11:00 pm or earlier set-point has finally become the norm, and I love it!
So What Made it Work This Time?
The first thing that helped was public accountability.
I ran a small group mentorship in the Spring, the Dream to Done Accelerator, and when one of the members mentioned that she had a goal of getting to bed earlier, I decided to jump in and commit myself to an earlier bedtime right along with her. We even texted each other every night to confirm that yes, we were going to bed at our committed time.
So that got me started… but that wasn’t what kept me getting to bed earlier.
What else changed that enabled me to finally get to bed earlier on a more consistent basis?
For one thing, I’ve reverse-engineered my nights, and realized I need to shut down my computer and step away from work earlier if I want any hope of a decent night’s sleep.
The early bedtime isn’t so much a reward on its own — I still feel the desire to stay up and get more done — but it enables an earlier morning, which I love!
My best days are the ones when I wake up, fully refreshed, at 6:30 am, or even 6:00 am, and can do my entire morning ritual before 9:00 am!
This doesn’t happen all the time, but I love it when it does. 🙂
Win #2: A Daily Workout!
Speaking of morning routines, one of the other changes I’m proudest of this year is successfully integrating intense exercise into my day, five to six days a week!
As with earlier bedtimes, building in a regular workout only happened thanks to group accountability.
Back in August, I started my Creative Sandbox community as a pilot program, and on August 31, after hearing positive reviews of the Beachbody workouts from several acquaintances, I signed up for a free trial membership with Beachbody on Demand.
This was an experiment. I know I’m more motivated to workout when I’m in a class with other people, so I wasn’t sure I’d even like using workout videos, let alone have the discipline to actually do it every day.
To my surprise and delight, it worked!
What Made it Work This Time
First off, I knew I had to find a workout that I actually enjoyed. The Beachbody on Demand library has a big selection of workouts to choose from, and after trying out a few, I landed on one that I liked a lot: TurboFire.
But just finding a workout I enjoy has not been enough in the past. I also enjoy yoga, but that doesn’t get me out the door to the yoga studio, or even onto a yoga mat in my living room! I needed more help.
I knew I’d have a much better chance of making it happen if I did two things:
- Create some external accountability, the same way I had with the early bedtime.
- Schedule it early in my day, according to the principle that the thing I do first is the thing that gets done. (Click to tweet!)
For accountability, I started a monthly workout thread in the Creative Sandbox community Facebook group, and invited other members who had a goal of working out or moving more to join me and check in daily on that thread.
I don’t want to post that I skipped a workout, and there have been days when that thread was the only thing that got me to actually do it!
Now, over seventeen weeks later, my TurboFire workouts have become an integral part of my morning routine. With rare exceptions (mostly due to physical issues), I have worked out six days a week ever since!
I love not having to drive somewhere to work out — that was always a big hurdle that kept me sedentary in the past.
When I first started the workouts, I could barely get through them. Sheesh, I was out of shape! A few days into it, I was so sore I could barely move!
But gradually the soreness gave way to new strength and endurance. Not only can I do the full workouts now, but I have muscles I haven’t had in years!
Plus I have more energy, I sleep better, and I feel great. (Now if I could only get my husband to find a workout that he’d actually like to do…)
Oh, and as an added bonus, I’ve been able to tag a few minutes of yoga postures to the end of my TurboFire workouts. It’s not much — usually just six to nine minutes — but enough to keep my back happy.
2015 brought two powerful new habits into my life, but it wasn’t by accident. I used what I know about myself, what works (external accountability, schedule it in, reverse engineer as necessary), and what doesn’t work to get myself to finally do things that I’ve been wanting to do, but avoiding, for years.
Now if I could only apply these same tools to keeping my house tidy…
Well, perhaps 2016!
Quotables from this Episode
The thing I do first is the thing that gets done. (Click to tweet!)
Resources Mentioned in this Episode
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