Habits. Good or bad, shape our lives. We are what we repeatedly do and our lives naturally change with our habits. They affect all areas of our lives; from our career to our relationships, health, wellbeing (and everything in-between). Habits help create our personality and form the basis of every-day living; from conscious to sub-conscious ones, to positive or negative… One thing’s for sure – in whatever shape or form, we can’t live our days without them.
Did you know that research has shown it takes 66 days to form a new habit? This is apparently the ideal time for any individual to learn and adapt the new process and action – whatever type of habit it might be; from making the bed every morning, going to the gym 3 times a week, having a phone ban during dinner… You name it. So when kikki.K, the lifestyle & stationary brand, challenged me to join them on their 66 days #HabitsChallenge; creating new and positive habits, banishing any negative and old ones – in order to create the best version of my life – I was 100% game.
To kickstart the Habits Challenge, I attended a morning breakfast a few months back hosted by Kristina Karlsson, the inspiring founder behind kikki.K, alongside a few other select bloggers who would be joining me on this challenge. To date, that was one of the most exhilirating mornings I have had in years; sharing stories and personal experiences with fellow female entrepreneurs – all surrounding the topic of our bad, and good habits. Really highlighting was how so many of us struggle with the same issues, but how we all have our own personal ways of dealing with them. Kristina, a native Swede living with her family in Australia – shared with us how she has personally created a balance for herself via her 365 days out-of-office on her e-mail account (!), her morning ritual with the 5 Tibetan Rites (I’m now obsessed with this too), and always leaving her phone in the bag when she catches up with her girlfriends…
We all have our own weird and wonderful ways of living – it’s what makes us who we are, what shapes us into a unique, and wonderful individual… But one thing we all have in common, are habits. When sitting around that table for breakfast 66 days ago, I hadn’t actually made much thought as to what my habit challenges would be. But when Kristina asked me across the table, I somehow (subconsciously) knew the answer straight away…
THE HABITS JOURNAL
The habit focuses were all listed down in our Habits Journal, which was a great tool to help identify, understand and track any habit patterns, both good and bad, filled with helpful exercises and inspiration. I’ve personally found it to be so useful and a brilliant motivator to help set clear goals (and rewards) for myself. As well as to reflect on my progress so I can take better control of my day-to-day thoughts, feelings, actions. And any difficulties I might find with the challenges…
My main Habit Focuses for these 66 days was:
1. Be More Present
2. Cut Down on Social Media & No Electronic Devices after 7pm
3. Morning Yoga & Meditation
4. Go to Bed by 1opm.
As well as listing down my main Habit Focuses – the journal also had an Action Plan, where I listed out more spefiically what changes I would take to get started with my new routines; identifying what the trigger for my habit was; how I would react when this trigger appeared; and finally, what my reward would be. Then listing out why I wanted to change/start this habit; what challenges I might come against; how I would deal with this; who I would speak to if I needed support; and finally, how I would celebrate completing the challenge. I mean, you don’t get a much more dummy proof, detailed and positive activity tracker than this!
Personally, I always find it easier if I can write things down, and refer back to this when I get lost and need a bit of motivational guidance to get started again!
MY TOOL KIT ESSENTIALS
As well as the Habits Journal, we were given some inspiring reading material from kikki.K to keep us motivated throughout this period. Following the specific challenges I set for myself, I also put together this “tool kit” with all my support essentials for the next 66 days…
MY HABIT FOCUSES
Although all my habits are different and specific in their own right, they are very interlinked in the sense that they all share the same end goal; to calm down, stop up, relax, focus on the present, cut down on technology, create positive surroundings, and focus on my Zzzz….
MAIN HABIT FOCUS 1
BE MORE PRESENT
One positive habit, will inevitably trigger a load of other new positive habits. Hence why I set my main focus of this 66 days challenge to be a more broad and generic one to… Be More Present. With the rising presence of social media and technology in our society, I have found myself too often living my life via my phone, sharing my every day actions and constantly looking down at the screen instead of looking up and embracing what is right in front of me (sound familiar, anyone?).
I never forget this one particular moment when I was out walking with my mum, on a sun-filled, crisp Spring day a few months back… Whilst she was commenting on the May blooms and all the other magical elements you get with the start of a new season; I was too busy looking down at my phone, capturing the moments via my screen, instead of actually looking around and taking it all in… Seeing how much joy our beautiful surroundings was giving my mum, I was suddenly flooded with this wave of guilt and confusion. It was then I knew, something had to change. I had to stop living my life through a lens, control my need to update what I was doing every single day. Stop aimlessly browsing just because I was bored while walking somewhere/waiting for something/not entertained enough… Reminding myself to look out the window when sitting on a train, or pick up a book, instead of gluing myself to the screen. Disconnecting and living life to the max in real-time.
Of course, being a full-time blogger and doing what I do – it will never be 100% perfect, as I will inevitable need to be online a lot… But the first step is realising it, and then being better at adjusting my ways through positive habits – focusing on getting that balance a bit more right.
HABIT FOCUS 2
CUT DOWN ON SOCIAL MEDIA & NO ELECTRONIC DEVICES AFTER 7PM
This habit is a natural catalyst from the previous one… And forms a big chunk of many of the core issues I want to change. But to be more specific with this habit; it’s setting boundaries for when it’s OK, and not OK be online. The current state of our generation, is being connected 24/7. And especially being a blogger, of which it’s somewhat “expected” to be online every waking hour, updating, writing, sharing… But more and more, when I’ve been finding myself being anti-social and rude in social settings, being constantly glued to my phone; I decided that this particular habit was a priority, and something which I was determined to improve.
Again, I will always be on my phone a lot. It’s my job, it’s my livelihood, and that’s OK. I will have to accept this for the foreseeable future. But as with everything, certain boundaries need to be set for this as well. Do I have to spend my first waking minutes, half-asleep, glued to my iPhone scrolling through my Instagram feed? No. Do I have to “check in” and share pictures from every place I visit? Not always. Is there something so important that I need my phone by my side during dinner? Definitely not. And realistically, can it wait until the next morning? Most certainly, yes.
Living by these rules I set phone bans with specific time limits (putting my phone away after 7pm) and created room limits (putting my phone in another room, especially during bedtime)… Although these are all relatively minor and small habits – it’s the little changes that can make a big difference.
HABIT FOCUS 3
MORNING YOGA & MEDITATION
I’ve been sharing my love for yoga and more meditative practices in a lot of recents posts. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learnt to focus on doing more healing and positive regimes for my body and mind; which in turn has been a way of stopping up and having a more relaxed, and balanced lifestyle.
I’ve been into Yoga for years, but never prioritised it as much as my other fitness regimes. Which is kind of odd, as it’s always been the one thats left me feeling so calm and balanced afterwards. In my younger years, I always wanted to push my body to the max. Now it’s all about doing what makes me feel good. And right now, all I’m craving is Yoga. Nothing complicated, no heavy or intensive sessions… but just simple morning yoga rituals from the comfort of my own bedroom (I look on YouTube for classes). It helps awaken your body and limbs, setting yourself up for a positive and focused day.
After yoga, I do a session of meditation with Headspace – which is an excellent, straight forward and easy way to get into this daily practice – especially if you like me, have an impatient “monkey brain” that struggles to concentrate for a long period of time…! After starting with a 10 minutes challenge, I have managed to work myself up to 20 minutes during these 66 days. It´s another great way to start to the day, helping you stay more focused and controlled.
Reading a chapter (or two) a day of The Happiness Project, has also helped me focus and reflect on all the positive changes I have been making.
HABIT FOCUS 4
GO TO BED BY 10PM
Last, but certainly not least: sleep. It’s so much more important than many of us realise. Again, living in this 24/7 online society with the “Work Hard, Play Hard” motto – we’re more often than not programmed to push ourselves to the max. Which inevitably leads to deficient and broken sleep. In the past year or so, I’ve encountered spurts of insomnia. I never realised how badly this would affect me!
Again, going back to Habit Focus 2 – cutting down on social media and electronical devices, is one of the main priorities here. Everything is interlinked. Moving my iPhone and iPad out of the bedroom, switching it off hours before bed time. Creating an evening ritual with relaxing remedies, and hitting the sack by 10pm (most nights when I can).
The challenge here was to really set aside enough time for my bedtime. Running a hot bath with calming lavender, dimming the light in the bedroom to create the right setting, lighting an aromatic scented candle, infusing my bed linen and pillow with a relaxing spray, reading a book instead of my newsfeed, pampering with hand cream and a Silke hair wrap (leaving your hair satin smooth the next day). In other words, creating an indulgent ritual to look forward to, instead of just using the room and bed for catching up on sleep. These are things that have really helped my insomnia. And although it’s not cured… it’s definitely getting better.
Although I’m a perfectionist, I am by no means perfect. I’d love to be able say that I fully embraced and nailed all of the above. But lets be realistic. Although I am happy with my progress and actions – it is hard to do everything perfectly (hence why it’s called a challenge…). Many of my habit focuses have been testing most of the time – but they’ve never once felt like a chore or as part of my to-do list. I guess that’s what habits are all about; once you integrate and make them part of your day-to-day routine, you start doing them without thinking about it!
The yoga and meditation was a piece of cake, and something which was really enjoyable to do (and absolutely something I will be continuing past these 66 days). After creating more of a nighttime ritual around my sleep – it definitely made going to bed more enjoyable and easier process (although I do still struggle with sleep from time to time). The most challenging two habits, were being more present and disconnecting from social media and devices. I would love to say that I miraculously changed after these two months. Although I have become so much better, and incredibly aware at all times – it’s been hard finding that perfect balance at all times, when one is constantly surrounded by social media.
I have however, made several positive changes over the past 66 days, such as no phones by the dinner table (which I’ve pretty much stuck to at all times), shutting down my computer by 7pm (which I’ve done, unless I’ve been working on a tight deadline), moving my phone out of the bedroom (which has happened most nights). I’ve also started reading more, and have been trying to keep my phone in my bag while out and about, looking up, instead of down – constantly reminding myself of that moment of epiphany with my mum all those months ago…
I guess my key learning from the challenge is accepting that I’m not perfect, and accepting that I should be content and happy with whatever positive changes I have made. I never embarked on this challenge for a short term fix. I am definitely in this for the long term. It has made me more aware and motivated me to continue creating lasting benefits. This challenge has been a wake-up call – a reminder that it’s never too late to change, or create a new positive habit – whatever it might be.
Created in collaboration with kikki.K. All words, opinions, styling & creative direction are, of course, my own.