Change doesn’t happen all at once. It’s very rare that one action we take makes a lasting change in our life. Instead, change comes from the culmination of lots of small steps we take – often in the form of habits. Building habits that encourage growth is therefore key if we want to make a change.
When I say change here, I mean moving forward in creating the life you want to lead. Maybe the change is about how you look after yourself and your mental health, maybe it’s about taking risks and doing things that scare you. Whatever the change is you want to make, cultivating small habits should be your starting point.
Often it isn’t until I pause and look back that I realise the impact some of the small habits I’ve formed have impacted me. Today I want to look at some of the types of habits that can lead to change. Now, you don’t have to go ahead and start actioning them all immediately.
What I’d prefer you to do is read the ideas here, think about what habits you currently have and how they’re serving you and decide which new habits you think would benefit you and start introducing them slowly. This is a long-game. Let’s start with one of my favourite areas, self-awareness.
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’ll know that I believe self-awareness is the foundation to any self-development work we do and this is because, quite simply, we can’t change what we can’t see. Self-awareness gives us the ability to see. Some self-awareness habits that have led to change for me include journaling, meditation and yoga.
Journaling helps me connect with myself and track my mood. It helps me spot what impacts my mood, from which day of my cycle I’m on to who I saw that day. It lets me see patterns, it’s how I realised my cycle impacts my anxiety. This knowledge leads to greater understanding, more self-compassion and the chance to change things.
Meditation helps me step back from my thoughts. It gives me space to breathe when I’m feeling overwhelmed. It forces me to be present and eases anxiety. I notice a real difference when I’ve gotten out of the habit of meditating and it truly helps to reduce stress.
Yoga has helped me make peace with my body. It’s helped me connect with my physical self, noticing when things feel off. It’s also another place for me to get space from my thoughts. It’s like the pause between breaths where all I need to do is… be.
These are just examples of self-awareness habits that have lead to change in my life, there are plenty of other habits you could cultivate including going for a mindful walk in nature to sketching or even making music to express your feeling (Dan has been using an app called Cove which acts like a musical journal and it’s been a game-changing new habit for him).
Reflection is another way of building self-awareness, but it also leads to growth opportunities. When we reflect on how a day, week, month or even year has been, we can see where things didn’t quite go to plan and consider how we might do things differently moving forward.
Reflection also gives us the chance to acknowledge our wins, something that can easily get skipped over if we don’t make time to reflect. Celebrating wins and acknowledging our achievements helps us build self-belief and confidence, which we all know leads to powerful change. Here are some reflection habits I have:
Reflecting daily (personally). Every day I write a few lines in my journal about my day, what I did well and what I’m grateful for. This helps me notice what makes a good day ‘good’, it helps me nurture self-acceptance and self-belief by intentionally thinking about what I did well and it helps me see the positive, even if the day felt negative.
Reflecting monthly (professionally). At the end of every month I reflect on how things have gone in my business. I look at some statistics, I look at what activity has done the most for my business that month and I now note how I’ve been actively anti-racist in my business. This process helps me see what’s working so I can refine my activity the following month and note any topics that resonate. The anti-racism reflection keeps me accountable, so doing the work doesn’t fade into the background.
Reflecting yearly (personally and professionally). For the last two years I’ve used Susannah Conway’s unravel your year workbook and find it immensely helpful. Of course there are lots of workbooks and prompts you can follow, or you can do your own reflection. I find this helps me take a birds-eye view of the year, understanding what I’ve learnt and what I want to change in the following year.
Self-care is our way of nurturing our self-worth. It reaffirms that we deserve care and attention. It keeps our cups full so we can support those around us and be 100% there for them. Cultivating self-care habits is key if you’re trying to build self-worth, self-belief and confidence – without it, you’ll likely burn out. Here are some self-care habits (old and new) that are making big changes.
Regular baths have become a real habit and you’ll likely see me every Sunday and most Wednesdays on Instagram stories talking about getting into a bath. This is time for me to shut off the outside world for a moment. I can rest in a warm cocoon, watching YouTube and escaping real life for a while. Having this woven into my weekly schedule gives me something to look forward to, something I know is supporting my wellbeing.
Reading before bed is a new habit I’ve formed during lockdown and I hope it’s here to stay. Reading fiction inspires me as a writer and I have no doubt doing so improves my writing. It’s become an essential part of my wind-down routine and gives my mind a chance to escape to a different world briefly, before falling asleep.
Moving my body is another habit that’s largely come from being in lockdown. While yoga has always been a habit I’ve loved, moving my body in other ways like going for walks and doing home workouts wasn’t at the front of my mind. Now however, I’m really noticing the lack of movement in my day and find it necessary to do some sort of movement once a day to help me sleep and feel well.
When it comes to taking action and making changes, planning is a key part of the process. I’ve always been a planner, but since following Josephine Brooks’ 12-week planning method, I’ve noticed a real change in the way my business is moving forward. Here are some essential planning habits I’ve cultivated.
Planning the upcoming quarter. This is something I do for my Blue Jay work specifically and is where I follow Josephine’s guidance. I set myself three goals for the quarter and plot out how exactly I’ll make them happen. Of course, sometimes life gets in the way and things don’t go to plan, but having a map helps you correct your course and keep moving forward.
Planning the week ahead is something I’ve been doing for years and is embedded in my Sunday routine. Without fail, every Sunday I’ll open my laptop, my calendar and get up my Any.do to-do list on my phone. I’ll look at what events I have coming up, what work/house work needs to be done and make a to-do list for every day. This covers personal to-dos and Blue Jay to-dos, my day-job planning gets done in a slightly different way (more information on how I plan and organise my life).
Planning time to rest is an important, if not often overlooked, part of the process. All of this planning, reflecting and self-awareness…ing (?) can get a bit exhausting. Sometimes we need to make time for a day without a to-do list, time to really switch-off, relax and have fun! But if you’re anything like me, you’ll need to actively plan this in, or it won’t get done. So make this a habit, every month/quarter, look at what’s ahead and factor in some rest time. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
Who knew I had so much to say on habits, eh? I hope this was helpful, I’d love to hear what habits have led to change for you, or what new habits you’ll be cultivating off the back of this post. Let me know in the comments or reach out on Instagram (@katbluejay).
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