A question I am often asked is what someone can do to retain progress? For example, why do they keep breaking resolutions and diet plans and what do I advise?
My approach is different to most coaching. At the outset we look at the core person, who they are, what their values, expressions and needs are. There is no point in driving yourself to be who you are not. It’s counter productive to make plans based on other people’s expectations and you do not need to improve yourself. Loving and accepting and befriending yourself, not treating yourself as an enemy, is central to how I work.
The second thing is not to set yourself up for failure. It has been shown that when developing new good habits it doesn’t affect outcomes if you miss a day every now and again or break your habit. So once you’ve decided what new habits will really support YOU, releasing perfectionism is important.
The idea that a habit takes 21 days is a bit of a myth. It takes us 21 days to get used to a change. It’s more like 66 days to establish a new habit. I advocate taking time and building slowly over years rather than deciding to revolutionise everything this week.
Thus when we are preparing for change, it is first of all key to examine our deepest reasons and motivations. Then to consider the timing and set up, so that we are attempting what is realistic and possible.
We also want to consider the environment around us and to learn from the past so we can pre-empt and be ready for likely set backs.
The mindset of our ever productive culture frames slowing down as a negative
As Autumn begins and winter approaches many clients recognise from the past, that this is a time when they might feel more stressed, have lower mood and be more tired. My approach is not to try and raise enthusiasm, ramp up a gear and start cheering them on to keep going. This is an additional stress and has a high likelihood of failing and making the person feel worse.
What if we assume that energy, mood and motivation may dip, that health may take a knock? It is only the mindset of our ever productive culture that frames this a negative. It’s neutral. Neither good nor bad. It is simply Autumn. It is what it is. Acceptance and working with our natural rhythms rather than battling on, I find, is more effective in the long run. If it’s a battle there is a winner and a loser, you lessen your odds. I want to find a win-win.
We can’t stop it from being cold and dark
So what can we do? Two very important concepts to grasp are the difference between feelings and behaviour and between the things we can change and things we cannot.
We can’t stop it from being cold and dark, but we can focus on how to keep good levels of Vitamin D and light. We can’t avoid being exposed to cold and flu viruses but we can boost our immune systems as best we can and be super caring for ourselves when we get sick. We can’t prevent our mood dipping but we can have strategies in place for minimising the fall out so that our mood can dip but our behaviour doesn’t need to.
When my daughter went to uni I knew ‘flu was likely and I knew she was too far away for me to care for, or for her to come home. I packed a box with soft tissues, a jar of honey, lemon juice in a bottle, a tin of soup, a tin of fruit, throat sweets, paracetemol and ibruprofen, olbas oil and vapour rub and added a humorous card and message. I did this weeks before she got sick. It wasn’t that difficult to anticipate. I knew her and I knew the situation she was going in to.
Our mood can dip but our behaviour doesn’t have to
My coaching group assumes we are all adults with several winters under our belts and that we don’t have to ponder for long to have an idea of what might lie ahead. It’s likely that our motivation, mood and health will be challenged. So let’s use this autumn harvest time to fill our warehouses with good things for the winter to come. Imagine a loft full of pumpkins and onions and apples, the colours and the aroma. This isn’t negative thinking at all! It’s the rhythm of the season and quite normal.
So if you’re worried about your mood or health right now – that’s not silly, it’s just nature’s prompt. Turn that to your advantage. 66 days to establish a new habit. Don’t be surprised if when you connect with your core truth, when you ask yourself kindly what you need, if you don’t come up with replies like, “Lose 10 lbs” or “Get a pay rise”, you might come up with this, but you might hear yourself say, “Learn how to nap in the daytime” or “Do everything more slowly and calmly”. Your soul may want different things to your ego and learning to accept this and align to your true needs will make a big difference to whether you struggle to fulfill your goals or not. You are not a problem to overcome, you are valuable and need love and support.
Make your behaviour about general trends not hitting targets.
I have meditated for many years, decades. Probably the most important realisation that kept me going so long was understanding that a meditation session full of mind wandering and fidgets is just as valuable as the deeply peaceful and relaxing session. The sheer fact that I have managed to sit or lie down and take the time to meditate and to experience who I am in the now has been achieved. Maybe ‘who I am’ is all over the place, or maybe she has accidentally fallen asleep! I still meditated, I still said hello to my process and my place in the world as it is. So being less judgmental about ourselves is key to being able to continue our good habits.
When my kids learned piano over several years, sometimes they didn’t practise and each summer took weeks off. But they progressed through the grades nonetheless. Don’t throw in the towel. Change is a long game. Make your behaviour about general trends not hitting targets.
Your soul may want different things to your ego
If you want help keeping on track with daily prompts and discussion and weekly meditations, lessons and worksheets, then join my 10 week (70 days which is just over the average time it takes a person to install a habit) coaching group. All the details are here and because I’m so excited about this unique approach to winter including my 3 – 2 – 1 survival method, I’m launching this with an incredible 50% OFF price this week. I really want to share my 30 years of experience with you, for you to find that wisdom, to let the season guide you into an authentic and aligned way of being, so you are attuned your core self and nature. You will be able to keep all the materials and use them again and again!
Imagine a loft full of pumpkins and onions and apples, the colours and the aroma
Mini-meditation: Sit quietly with your eyes closed and with pen and paper nearby. Relax your body, little by little, notice your breath arriving and departing. When you arrive at stillness, ask yourself, “What do you need?”, kindly, as if you are talking to someone you love, “What can I give you?”. Ask and listen to the answer. Then pay attention to resting and relaxing and breathing, before asking the question again. Take your time, be slower than usual, it takes a while for anyone to arrive at these answers. Repeat this for as long as feels comfortable and then write down the answers you received.
With any training, whether it’s my little Luna (as pictured below) or our own habits, kindness, repetition and rewards win. Sign up for Miriam’s coaching group here
“In the first week I have already learnt so much about myself.
The content is delivered daily, there are discussions, task to do, things to reflect on. The facilitator will answer questions and help you through any difficulties. I have spent hours on this and it only cost me £15 for a week!
I cannot recommend this highly enough. The facilitator is the best I have ever worked with. The bonus is you HAVE to have a notebook and who doesn’t love a notebook!”
“I didn’t really know what to expect from an online ‘ therapy coaching’ course but I needn’t have been concerned. As week one progressed I found myself waiting for the next day’s material like an excited child waiting to open the next advent calendar door, a day or more early. This warmly challenging course is well designed and put together. Most importantly it’s backed up by Miriam Grace, whose 30 years experience of being a professional psychotherapist shines through. Her wisdom, insight, and knowledge all form part of the support and feedback she gives participants. For me this is a welcoming, gentle but effective experience, with a great group of participants. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it to anyone.”