Life is hard, often as adults we spend our lives running, box ticking and juggling to get through each day-then repeat.
Our brains tend to go with the path of least resistance- which means we keep repeating the same patterns because it is easiest (often unconsciously). For those of us that want to improve our lives the start of trying to do something new feels hard-that’s because it is!
If you think of our brains wiring as a highway- with messages shooting up and down all day long, those are our daily doings and habits. When we begin to try something new-like changing our habits so that we can live better-it’s like treading a new mountain path on a hike. Its challenging, the ground is unstable, you need to watch where you step and things can be in your way. The more you walk the path the more well-trodden it gets, the ground smooths out and it gets clearer and wider.
When we decide to make a life change- lose weight, stopping drinking/smoking, starting a new career or going back to studying as an adult -it’s hard, its walking the untrodden path.
With consistency it gets easier, soon you embody your new habits and ways of being, living a better and more fulfilling life.
How can we make changing habits and doing new things easier?
Two ways that I have found work well with my coaching clients are:
1-Using the body:
I have found using the body to do difficult things can have a knock on effect to changing your mindset and long term habits. In sports, long distance runners will know how it feels to hit the wall kilometers from the finish line. There is only one option, to keep putting one foot in front of the other leaning into the discomfort. Soon you have broken through to the other side and are gliding along in the groove.
People who regularly cold swim/ shower are using their bodies to lean into the uncomfortable with the reward that they feel amazing afterwards.
There are many different body based actions we can use to begin to change our mindset about leaning into discomfort depending on what suits you. Helping our brains to see that we can do hard things.
2-Keeping it small:
Using small increments daily with consistency is like walking that mountain path, making it bigger and better every day and before you know it you can look back and realize you have come a long way-whether it is changing a habit that no longer serves you or making a life change for the better.
For both of these techniques there is a “sweet spot” that is unique to you- pushing past where you are comfortable but not too far where you push into burnout and injury. Keeping your small increments small-they should feel manageable even if it’s doing something new 5min per day and growing it from there-consistency is the key.
We get to choose our hard- staying in the same place everyday living out old habits- is definitely easier right now. Down the line playing it forward you are living a life that with habits that don’t serve you and hinder your success.
Or we can lean into the discomfort each and every day, one foot in front of the other until it gets easier and the new habits get ingrained into our bodies, and our lives reflect a better way of living.
Choose your hard, it’s up to you!