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Episode 90: Working From Home

If you want to master working from home, this episode is for you. 

 I want to walk you through a four step process to set up a really effective working from home situation so you can more easily adapt to a new way of doing business.

Before we start I want to share a bit of my story with you so you get some context for the rest of this session.

Twelve years ago my husband and I did a sea change. 

We moved from our businesses with busy offices and staff, and our nearby friends and family, to the opposite side of Australia where we knew nobody and at the same time I was doing a career change.

So as you can imagine we went from being very well-connected and very confident in our skills to having no external connections with others, no other close relationships, spending all day with each other and grappling with the steep learning curve of doing something new and different then we were used to.

It took a long time for me to get my head around how I was going to operate in the world. I felt like I had lost my sense of purpose, who I was and what I stood for. 

I want to mention this because a lot of people right now are feeling this way too. 

Maybe you’ve had to give up your job or change your job, or have suddenly faced the new and uncomfortable reality of being faced with your life in the home environment as you work from home. And perhaps as part of that you’re really questioning your capacity or whether you can cope with this situation. 

My answer to you is yes you can. You can absolutely cope with this.

The secret is to figure out how to adapt, and to do your way. 

That’s what I want to talk to you about today

I want to walk you through the four steps that I went through to be able to work at home and be productive and feel connected as an example of what’s possible.

I hope this helps you to come up with your own ideas about how to transition into this way of working, yourself.

Let’s walk through the four steps!

1. Connection

Connection is the first important step, because without a sense of feeling supported, you can quickly spiral into fear, doubt and lack of confidence.

When I first moved to rural New South Wales I intuitively knew that I needed some sort of connection to feel sane and normal, and that things were working. My logical brain was telling me that I needed to make contacts for my business. 

But emotionally, I was missing the day to day camaraderie of like minded people in the office. I was missing catching up with friends and I was missing interacting with my family. 

So one of the things that I did when I first moved to a new place was to start going to different sorts of association events, social group events, sporting groups and meeting people in different contexts, so I could figure out where my people were and how best to connect with them.

For me, this was finding smart, positive people who are interested in health and wellness, who like brainstorming and being creative, and who like a laugh.

Connection is the first important step, because without a sense of feeling supported, you can quickly spiral into fear, doubt and lack of confidence.

Even if physical meetings are impossible for whatever reason, there are still plenty of online communities that you can join and be part of. 

One of the things that’s great about connection is the chance to get to know your neighbours, the people in your street, the people who run your local businesses, and those who own the coffee shop down the road. 

Even without friends in an extreme case like a sea change, these become points of contact and help you feel socially connected even if you don’t know them that well. 

Let’s be clear – when you move interstate you will be starting off with fairly superficial relationships because it’s pretty difficult to replicate the friendship of 25 or 30 years. But what I have made peace with is that you can build those relationships again in a new place or in a new context simply by showing up regularly in social situations where your tribe is.

First, you have to find them.

Beyond getting started in a new place, I think it’s really important to know that when you work at home and you’re with yourself and perhaps your partner 24 hours a day.

You can feel a bit claustrophobic, so it’s important to schedule in meeting opportunities so you can get enough connection with others. 

What could this look like for you?

It could be having a daily trip to a local cafe to write a blog. 

It could be that during the week you schedule time slots to get you out of the house and go to places where you will see people, whether that be the shop, the gym, getting a massage or any other sort of social interaction. 

Add another level if you feel that you need to be able to brainstorm ideas with other people in business. 

Perhaps then you could hire a co-working space for a day, book a room in the local library, or join your local Chamber of Commerce and meet other people in business who might like to get together and brainstorm ideas at one of these venues, or a cafe, or at someone’s home or a Zoom meeting.

All of these things are possible, it just requires creative brainstorming. 

2. Planning

Once you have a plan for connecting with people you will be able to fill that very primal need to be part of a tribe.

The next thing to do is figure out what you need to do each day. 

It sounds simple but it can be challenging when your whole environment, schedule and context has changed. 

Planning is super important if you are somebody who is used to following directions or collaborating with teams on how projects will be delivered. It’s also important if you’re prone to distraction, or to procrastinate as soon as an obstacle comes up.

The easiest way to get your planning right is to start with one month at a time. 

Within that month, block out your must do activities like taking kids to school or shopping or other sorts of life appointments.

The reason that I recommend you plan one month at time is because initially, you’re going to need to experiment with what works for you. 

You’re going to find that some days or some times a day you have more energy or more focus or more creativity than others. 

So in that first month your goal will be to understand your natural rhythm and then to adjust your schedule to fit with that. 

There are also some ways that you can proactively change your state to be focused or analytical or creative but I will cover that in a separate podcast.

Once you have your month planner in front of you, the next thing to do is to schedule:

1. any set work meetings that you have and any of those connection points that you’ve defined, and then;

2. the obvious things that you need to do like reconciling invoices once a month or doing social media posts for business or submitting monthly reports for work.

By now you should be feeling pretty good, because it feels great to have identified some concrete regular tasks to do each week and to know when exactly you will do them.

3. Now think about how and when you will check your email and social media.

You may not normally schedule that kind of thing in a normal work environment, but at home, these are rabbit holes for a lot of people. 

One idea to get you started is to think about coming up with one or two time slots per day where you will check emails and allow a bit of time after that to attend to any immediate business. 

For example you might decide that you will spend 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at the end of the day checking email, and allow another 20 minutes after each of those sessions to follow up with schedule any tasks that arise. 

So that’s 2 x 30 minute email slots, for checking and taking immediate action.

I was speaking with a client yesterday about the best time to do the morning email. 

What actually happens in the morning is that it’s often a very good creative thinking time and if you launch into email right away, it can lead you into a hyper-responsive, detailed focus pattern that stops your creativity. 

Experiment for yourself; you may find it best to do a block of work or a creative task first before you do your first email check.

4. The next step is where you need to be a little bit creative and work out how to deal with bigger, project-level tasks. 

These are bigger tasks that you need to do that aren’t so easy to identify, or quantify. 

They are usually things that you haven’t done before, that you might usually brainstorm, or that you usually have guidance and direction to complete, or that usually involve getting other people‘s opinions or advice or expertise.

With these sorts of tasks you will need to break them down into smaller steps, and identify which segments require external help, review or ideas.

I like to use the Getting Things Done model to tackle projects and I’ll explain that here, because it’s been a game changer to help me quantify and chunk down project-style jobs. 

You may have a different way of working with projects but I’m just going to explain this model now.

The idea is that you identify separate projects and I have a folder for each one and a sheet of paper or a blank document to outline what the project is and what the main steps are. At the very big picture level I have a time frame on that project and A series of main steps. Here’s an example. Let’s say that my project is to overhaul my website. And this was an actual project that I snoozed for 40 weeks because it lacked clarity and definition of the step-by-step process. 

So if my project is to overhaul my website I could break that down into main tasks of revamping the homepage, revamping the services page, and revising the blogs. I could prioritise those main steps from most to least important and then what I could do is take the main priority step and brainstorm some smaller steps within that. 

So let’s say that revamping the Homepage was my first goal. I would need to decide what that actually means. It could be that I want to read and possibly update the copy. It might be that I want to add some new photographs. 

For somebody else this task could mean that they want to totally change the layout. So as you can see doing that sort of breakdown process allows you to get clear on what the individual tasks are and it makes it easier for you to assign times and timeslots to each of those. 

For example I might decide I will allow an hour to read my homepage copy and revise it. If you’re unsure about how long something will take it’s best to add an extra hour to the end and be prepared to need to have a second session later on if required

Then what I would do is pick the very first task of the project and schedule it into my calendar. And when I do that task I would go back to my project list and identify the next task and schedule that in. 

Working in that way avoids overwhelm and it helps you to get clear as you’re navigating that project on what the tasks are as they arise. Because let’s face it we can’t necessarily know all of the steps in the right order up front and it’s possibly better to define them as you go. Our brains have a tendency to want to latch onto predefined schedules even if they stop making sense.

3. Brain Breaks

Planning aside there is something else that needs to happen when you work from home. And that is taking breaks. If you get really focused on your work and are working effectively and there’s nothing else to do chances are you’re going to work too much. 

I put my hand up this happened to me a lot in the beginning and still does sometimes. 

That’s why doing number one first and establishing those outside connections and commitments socially is really important because it gets you out of the house and gets you away from work so that you don’t overwork.

There’s two types of breaks. 

The first is taking a brain break while you’re working so that you’re not staring at your screen all day. It can be useful to put house work or other small tasks in between work tasks to give your brain a break, want to go and take a shower or to walk outside into the garden or something to give your eyes a rest and give your brain a chance to shift the focus.

The second type of break is taking a more extended break and knowing when to switch off at the end of the day and having a set lunch break. 

It’s really easy to work through lunch and to sit at your desk all day and for the slumped over desk posture become your new ‘asana’, and for digital eye strain to creep in, and to start feeling disconnected and snappy.

Discipline is often required to disconnect. Create rules and boundaries, and know that when you stick to them, you will be powerfully productive when you ARE at work.

4. Self Care

I coach a lot of business owners who work from home. And their universal lesson is that they need to do something for themself FIRST thing in the day in order to maintain emotional balance, to feel calm, and to eat well and exercise.

Many of them have learned the hard way; that when all work and everyone else’s needs come first, they start reaching for the chocolate, the wine and the weight watchers subscription, they sleep poorly and feel flat, snappy or moody.

I am thinking of several clients who do one thing for themselves before starting their day, and that allows them to do so much more and feel satisfied without needing to reach for comfort.

They typically start with either:

  1. Journaling or writing goals, or
  2. Exercise of some sort, or 
  3. Meditation, or
  4. Doing something creative or doing creative work FIRST before the meetings and clients. 

There are other options; these are just a few things that my clients are doing to stay sane, grounded, happy and productive.

Create rules and boundaries, and know that when you stick to them, you will be powerfully productive when you ARE at work.

Summary

We’ve talked about the challenges of working from home, and it may take you up to a year or more to get your head around how to make it work for you.

In this episode I’ve talked you through four steps that have helped me to gain enough connection, structure and balance ro adjust and adapt to a productive, happy work environment.

Ready to be more productive while working at home?

You can proactively change the way you function and even the way your brain works! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 62: Intuitive Eating 101

You might have heard recently about intuitive eating. If you’re wondering what it is and what the benefits are, stay tuned, because that’s what this episode is all about.

Before you listen to this, I recommend you listen to the previous episode #61, where I discussed Body Intelligence or BQ.

Intuitive eating is a type of Body Awareness, which is the first pillar of BQ (body intelligence).

Intuitive eating is a concept that was developed by Evelyn Tribole, a dietician and counsellor, and Elyse Resche, a nutritionist.

They define intuitive eating as:

“a personal process of honoring health by listening and responding to the direct messages of the body in order to meet your physical and psychological needs.”

It is a self-care eating framework, which integrates instinct, emotion, and rational thought, and the authors of this approach call it ‘weight neutral’. 

The idea is to trust and use your inner signals, both mental and physical, as a guide for what to eat, how much to eat, and when.

I wanted to speak about this because it’s so close to my heart and it’s a big part of the Metabolic Typing process that I was trained in and use with many hundreds of my clients.

An End to Dieting Mentality

Intuitive Eating proposes an end to the dieting mentality – but what does this actually mean?

I had a bit of internal conflict around the idea of dieting and not dieting for some time, and after some reflection I got clear on my position around this.

Firstly, I believe that there are circumstances where it makes sense for some people to follow specific diets.

Here are some examples of this:

  1. Many overweight people have fatty liver and dysregulated insulin. In this case, a short period of low carb eating might be required to regain insulin sensitivity and to get rid of cravings sooner.
  2. Some people develop temporary intolerances to certain foods – and this can happen in periods of intense stress or if you eat too much of a certain food, or if your immune system is triggered – so in this case it makes sense to follow a low-stress diet for a short period to allow the body to recover from its inflammatory/reactive state.
  3. People with gut health issues might need to temporarily or permanently be on a specific ‘diet’, such as a FODMAPS diet, or a high fibre diet or a diet for Crohn’s or celiac disease, for example.
  4. People with a chronic lifestyle disease may need to follow a specific type of diet to manage their symptoms or condition, such as diabetes, heart disease etc.

The idea is to trust and use your inner signals, both mental and physical, as a guide for what to eat, how much to eat, and when.

What I’m saying is this – in certain situations, some people DO need to have a certain mentality around what they do or don’t eat, because it may affect their wellbeing.

That aside, if we look at what the word diet means, it’s simply the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.

So to be clear, what we’re talking about with Intuitive Eating is that we are aiming to stop being obsessed by food and eating habits, to stop unnecessarily restricting ourselves, and to stop having negative or harmful thoughts around food or our bodies.

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating

Let’s explore the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating.

1. Reject the diet mentality

This principle is about ignoring the quick fix marketing and solutions we are sold, and the promise that the next diet will work and solve all your problems.

The truth is, when we rely on someone else for the answer, we give them our power. And in actual fact, your body is designed to give you all the signals you need to eat  in a way that nourishes and supports good health. It’s our in-built survival mechanism

2. Honour your hunger

Leading on from the first point, we must learn to recognise true hunger and to give your body enough of the right kinds of food.  

Our bodies use carbs and fat for fuel, and can also use protein if the other fuel sources are not available. We need to trust that our bodies will tell us when we are truly hungry and give them a balanced die.

3. Make peace with food

Food is not a reward or a punishment. Restricting is a sure fire recipe for creating guilt, binges and uncontrollable cravings. 

It’s important that we allow ourselves to eat healthily in a way that supports our bodies and minds and to use self-compassion when we feel urges.

4. Challenge the food police

There is no good or bad food. There is no forbidden food or treat food. There is no need to do calorie accounting. Applying these labels and this intense scrutiny creates guilt, judgement and self-loathing.

In actual fact, there is just food, and it is a fuel. Thinking this way about food, without any labels can help you to make peace and eliminate the negative thoughts and feelings about it.

5. Respect your fullness

Our bodies tell us when we’ve had enough to eat. When we make the time and space to notice these signals, we will naturally stop eating.

Mindfulness is a tool that can help us observe this simple and powerful signal.

6. Discover the satisfaction factor

Rather than busily scoffing our meal or feeling wanting for something else, we can enjoy eating and feel satisfied with our eating by simply paying attention to our food and the experience of eating it.

When you truly experience the process of eating – the texture, colours, flavours and smells – then it’s much easier to feel satisfied.

7. Honour your feelings without using food

Some of us have been conditioned to reach for food when we’re anxious, lonely, bored, stressed, angry or sad.  

But food won’t solve the problem and may make things words, by throwing feelings of guilt into the mix. 

There are healthier ways to manage your mind and your emotions and you can use those processes to replace food and honour your feelings, so that you can sit with them and let them go in a healthy way.

8. Respect your body

A lot of people think that a healthy body must look a certain way. The reality is, as I learned in my Metabolic Typing qualification, we are all different sizes and shapes and, we are biochemically unique on the inside.

Our physical bodies are adapted to different climates – cold climates, mountainous climates, hot climates.

Our biochemistry is adapted to the available food sources that are in those local environments. 

Respecting your body starts with recognising that your natural shape and size gives you unique strengths and skills, and by fueling your body with the right foods for YOUR body type.

9. Exercise and feel the difference

Further to this, each person does best with a different type of exercise. Your physiology gives clues as to which exercise might work better for you – but also consider your levels of stress, your stage of life and what you like to do.

If you’re only exercising to lose weight then you’re missing out on a wealth of other benefits like stress management, endorphins, strength, flexibility, agility, stamina and mobility.

Look for other motivators or goals around exercise and you’ll quickly learn to love it. 

10. Honour your health

Finally, nobody has a perfect diet. One meal won’t throw your entire life off track. Rather, choose foods that help your body to feel strong, clear, capable and well.

If you choose foods that create these feelings most of the time, it will make healthy eating so much easier, and you’ll be able to turn it into a habit that you love.

Summary

To wrap things up, you can see that the principles of intuitive eating are about body awareness, body knowledge and then body engagement – they are intrinsically tied with the principles of BQ, as discussed in episode 60 of this podcast.

Choose foods that help your body to feel strong, clear, capable and well.

The skills and tools that help you become an intuitive eating are mindfulness, thought watching and thought change modelling.

Changing your relationship with food is about more than just making a plan and doing it – it also means unravelling your old mental patterns and beliefs so that you can let go of past behaviours, and start taking positive actions in the right direction.

For assistance with intuitive eating, visit melaniejwhite.com/contact page.

Ready to learn more about intuitive eating?

Changing your relationship with food can be the start of a whole new relationship with yourself. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 48: What’s Behind Your Time and Money Beliefs?

Have you ever wondered what’s behind your time and money beliefs?

When you become aware of a limiting belief, have you rushed right into positive affirmations, or have you been curious about the origin of that belief?

I love affirmations, but I think a brief exploration of the things going on behind the belief can give you a lot of clarity as to how to resolve the belief.

I’m not talking about going back into your deep dark past and excavating all the terrible things that happened to you.

I’m talking about getting some clarity so you can figure out the actions you need to take to move forward.

This is how I problem solve everything.

When something is wrong, I go upstream to the source of the problem as this helps me to truly and effectively solve it.

This episode has come about after a recent conversation with a fellow coach about time and money. After we chatted at length, I thought more deeply about what sits behind time and money beliefs, specifically.

And it was such a rich and eye opening conversation for me that I want to explore the topic with you today and ask some questions to get you thinking about where your beliefs come from, to help you direct your own reflections and create self-talk that will generate healthier beliefs.

After all, if you have blocks around time, or blocks around money or both, it’s going to impact your success in business.

Thinking about your beliefs about money or time.

Write down three things main ones that come to your mind right now – don’t think deeply, just trust that the right answers will come out.

Now let’s look at where these beliefs might come from.

I am going to share the three common categories of beliefs that coaches tell me they struggle with and see if you can hear yourself in these.

Then we’ll talk about some really simple ways you can overcome them.

A simple way to start changing any time or money beliefs that are based in self-worth is to get really clear on your values and to find the reason behind them. 

Figure out what you stand for and what is important to you and why.

Money beliefs based in self-efficacy and self-esteem

The first category I’ve created is money beliefs don’t directly discuss money, per se. But they go something like this.

  • Who am I to be a coach? I’m not the best role model/people won’t pay.
  • I don’t know enough for people to buy from me
  • I’m not experienced enough for people to pay that
  • I am not looking after my own wellbeing, how can I help others?

On the surface, these sorts of thoughts seem to be about a lack of belief in the value of what you do. 

But look deeper and you’ll notice that the feeling associated with them is usually a sense that you lack skills and experience more than anything else.

I think these types of money belief comes from a lack of self-efficacy – our belief in our ability to do certain things – or self-esteem – or how we evaluate our qualities and attributes.

In either case, I notice that people who feel too inexperienced find it’s hard to ask for money. 

They feel like you can’t charge anything, or very much, because they’re not a very good coach (yet).

Ok, so let’s look at the second category.

Beliefs based in self-worth

The next category of beliefs are more directly about money, and they are beliefs based in self-worth. They include things like:

  • I hate sales
  • I hate marketing
  • What if they say no?
  • I don’t want to be pushy
  • I’m not comfortable asking for money

Are these the kinds of things you say to yourself?

To me, these beliefs seem to be more about whether people like you or not. 

They could include some of the self-esteem or self-efficacy type beliefs mentioned earlier, but notice the language here. 

It’s more about you and how you might be perceived or judged.

That’s why I think these sorts of beliefs seem to be based more in your sense of self-worth – what you as a person have to offer – more so than your skills or experience as a coach.

The fear of being disliked is a real challenge for a lot of people. I struggled with this for many years so I know it well.

And I think what accompanies these types of beliefs are a lack of boundaries. 

You find it hard to speak up for yourself, you might want to please clients no matter what, schedule sessions on any day at any time, and give sessions for free or heavily discounted so that you can say you have clients and feel like you’re helping people. 

You give yourself away.

Now let’s look at my third category of beliefs and these are more about time.

Time beliefs based around boundaries

If we look at beliefs around time, we may see other types of patterns emerging. 

There are some beliefs that are more about effort, like:

  • I’ll have to work hard to earn that much
  • I’ll have to give up my weekends
  • I’ll get stressed
  • It’ll make me too anxious
  • It’s too much work

To me, these beliefs are also about boundaries and ultimately self-worth as discussed previously.

Think about it, if you valued your time you would find a way to manage it. You’d be committed to learning how to do that.

And if you felt that you could charge enough, had confidence in your ability to organise your time, and trusted yourself to stay focused and on track, the time, energy and stress wouldn’t be part of the equation.

At the core, these sorts of beliefs seem to be about backing yourself and believing in yourself – your ability to pull it off.

Some Simple and Effective Solutions

Knowing that these sorts of beliefs exist, let’s consider how to resolve them for good.

Self-efficacy

Think about the negative money or time beliefs that revolve around your ability to do something – your skill – also known as self-efficacy.

A good analogy for these sorts of beliefs could be thinking about what it takes to become good at playing the piano.

You could study piles and piles of books, learn the theory, watch YouTube videos and the like. But understanding that theory will never make you a good piano player.

You actually have to play.

And in the beginning, unless you are a natural at it, you are going to be shit. 

Or you are at least going to make mistakes.

But you need to persist and keep going and practicing if you want to become good.

And the second part to that is to write a reflection on how you went after each coaching session. This is how you learn to see the good as well as the areas that need work. This is where you see tangible shifts in your own professional development.

So to build self-efficacy and self-esteem, you need to practice, but you also need to reflect on each session and watch yourself grow.

These two critical pieces will help you move forward and recognise your ability – it will double the rate at which you become accomplished because you will learn so much from doing this.

Find practice clients who are ready, willing and able to be coached, and start there.

Then practice and reflect, practice and reflect, practice and reflect.

From there will come your sense of accomplishment.

Self-Worth

A simple way to start changing any time or money beliefs that are based in self-worth is to get really clear on your values and to find the why behind them. 

Figure out what you stand for and what is important to you and why.

This includes some of the reflection work mentioned earlier; reflecting on your practice and recognising the value that you offer through coaching; reading your testimonials, noticing the shifts, seeing the aha moments.

Then, start a practice of upholding your personal values and standing by the value of your coaching skills in your everyday life and in your business.

To uphold your values, you will need to need to set and maintain some boundaries.

That is to say, you can only maintain boundaries when you know what is important to you.

It will feel a little uncomfortable at first if you have to say no, I’m not available on weekends.

You might feel squeamish if you say, that is the price for the program, I can do a payment option or an up front payment, those are my options. 

It might feel like you are rejecting the other person, or being unfair or letting them down.

But you are actually sending a message that says ‘For the right person, I am worth it, and I can truly help them.’

If you can shift this around you’ll start attracting clients who are prepared to pay because they will be drawn to your confidence, energy and sense of worth. 

Ready to reshape your narrative around time and money?

It’s time to find value your self worth! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 7: How To Live and Work Like an Athlete

Episode 7: How To Live and Work Like an Athlete

This podcast will help you create balance and endurance in your life. 

I would like to introduce you to a confounding problem and a life-changing solution.

As a Health and Wellness Coach, I have learned so much from my clients.

I’ve learned that a problem we all face is how to be consistent with our habits.

A lot of my clients want to eat salad every day, go to the gym four times per week, and cut out all junk food, chocolate or alcohol.

They try so hard to be consistent, yet they all struggle to manage their time, energy, money and/or calories – anything else that requires that repetitive, continuous effort.

Through my work as a Biologist, I have learned that we are wired to run on autopilot.  Our brains LOVE the consistent, repetitive, predictable routine because it’s energy efficient.

So how can it be that we are creatures of habit, yet we struggle with consistency?

On the surface, it seems like a confounding problem. But what’s really going on?

When we say we want to be consistent, we think that means ‘continuous repetition.’ I’d like to offer a more realistic definition of consistency and show you how you can achieve it.

First, let’s consider the fact that nearly everything we do in our lives involves cycles. Nature provides daily, weekly, monthly and yearly triggers that every living thing responds to.

Instead of responding to that natural rhythm, we fight it.

We are convinced that we must do exactly the same thing every day.

When I work with clients who think like this, I find they struggle to form new habits, or even just cope with sudden changes in their home life, relationships and work. They’re too inflexible.

On the flipside, I’ve had several coaching clients who like to be totally flexible and live in the moment – but this has its own set of pitfalls. These clients often find it hard to stick to routines, set boundaries or commit to things. Consequently, they may struggle to build relationships, lose weight, save money, get new clients, build a business or feel a sense of purpose.

The facts are this: we are wired to live on autopilot, yet our environment demands us to be agile. Many people swing to either extreme, but what we really need is a middle ground. Let’s redefine consistency in that context. I propose that consistency means ‘cyclic repetition.’ That is, we are agile enough to adapt our regular habits to fit with the cycles of nature.

As Charles Darwin famously said:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.

I’d like to offer a compelling rationale for this definition of mine and then explain how you can get it. The rationale is simply this – all living things naturally respond to the sun, moon and seasonal cycles. It’s called a circadian rhythm and there are daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal and annual cycles that make up this circadian rhythm.

Each day, the intensity of the sun and day length affect our sleep, temperature, blood pressure, hormones and energy levels. Each month the moon influences our hormonal and sleep cycles. Even at the seasonal level, we have shifts in mood (such as seasonal affective disorder in winter) and changes in food preferences and cravings (in winter we tend to want heavier, starchier meals – and this happens to coincide with the types of foods that grow best at that time of year).

The trouble is our brains love running on autopilot, we love this ‘set and forget’ way of being.

What we need is a plan for our year – our season – broken into work and rest phases.

Athletes have a pretty good formula for operating at peak performance.

We can learn a thing or two from this. We can learn to live and work like athletes.

Depending on the sport, the pre-season to competition season is around 6 – 9 months. 

Take AFL football as an example, where the season runs from late February to early October.

  •         They spend 2 – 3 months building general endurance and training at low intensity.
  •         The next 2 – 3 months are sport-specific training and maximal strength.
  •         Then they ramp up to competition by alternating hard training with easy training sessions.

They are at peak fitness then, ready to bring their very best to the final games. 

Then they have an off season where they go on holiday, and for 4 – 12 weeks to allow for the body to recover both physically and psychologically.

What we can see is this: athletes recognise that their bodies can’t go full on all year round.

Yet when I see my coaching client Sue, she is extremely worried because she doesn’t feel like eating salad all year round. She is struggling to go to the gym 5 days per week for the whole year. She pushes herself at work every day and wonders why she is stressed and exhausted. She hasn’t had a holiday in 3 years. Sue is pushing the proverbial up hill.

The athletes have got it wired. What we need is a plan for our year – our season – broken into work and rest phases.

The reason we create a plan is that it’s a ‘set and forget’ approach that allows us to make the decisions all in one go, then simply run on autopilot. That is how we give our bodies the regularity and agility that they need. We create a plan for the year that involves times of peak effort and times of rest. We cycle our exercise and eating approach. We cycle our sleep and waking habits.

But we write it all down. That way, there’s no need to use brain power to make decisions every day when we’re busy. 

We just follow what’s on the plan – and perhaps review it every quarter to make sure we’re on track.

That way we can know we are on course to achieve everything we want. We’re never bored. We’re never expecting too much of ourselves. There’s no room for guilt.

We have a way of living and working that ticks all the boxes and creates that cyclic consistency that we need to thrive.

 

Ready to create balance and endurance in your life?

You too could live and work like an athlete! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

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