I’ve spoken about change a fair bit and although it can be scary, it can also be massively exciting making changes. Once we’ve made the first step, it can become so exciting making improvements that we want to make them all over the place. Making the changes last though can be more difficult.
Let’s face it, no change we have ever made just suddenly appeared in our lives and we fully adjusted straight away. When we started our last job or we met our partner, none of that just happened and we knew how it fitted into our lives immediately. I can still clearly remember starting a job in 2008 and feeling like I would never know what was going on. I kept learning and although it was a very steep learning curve to start with, I got to the point where I knew it inside out and it was so mundane that I needed more excitement!
The point is that we need repetition, or practice as I prefer to call it, for something to become ingrained into our lives. Whether it’s learning a new language or introducing exercise, we can start off feeling a little overwhelmed but if we keep going, before we know it, we’ve got a new habit!
Last January I decided to book a 500 mile walk in for May/June this year that I’ve wanted to do for a while. Although I started walking a bit more last year, it wasn’t until January this year that I suddenly panicked and realised I HAD to start training properly. At first, it was a bit of a shock to the system but I’m now a bit more used to it.
I’m already in the habit of doing 2 x 4 mile walks in the week (usually before I go to my other job) and I’m walking both weekend days now too. I’m increasing the length and difficulty most weeks and although my legs seem to have a perpetual slight ache, I’m definitely finding it easier to do the longer walks than I would have this time last year. I also WANT to move more and miss it on my off days.
The repetition of these habits are building me up to a point where I can walk 500 miles in about 6 weeks. Without practice, I could of course just start the walk, but would I be able to carry on? Would my body be able to keep walking after the first day or would the trauma mean that my muscles/tendons/bones were simply unable to keep going? By starting off with small steps then gradually increasing the practice, it allows this exercise to become the new normal for me.
It’s much the same with everything else. If you throw yourself in the deep end, sometimes it will work and after the initial shock, you keep practicing and eventually it becomes part of your life. If you’re a bit more risk-averse, you can start small and build up so you almost don’t notice the changes you’re making. Either way, the practice makes the change you’ve been longing for part of your life.