How many times have you attempted to shoehorn a new habit into your life? Did you start a diet that ignores the camaraderie of pizza night, begin a yoga class that meets at an inconvenient time, and set up a cleaning schedule that includes dusting the baseboards?
Many new habits fail because we try to add them into our lives with body and soul-shocking speed, and without acknowledging our current limitations. Small steps inch us toward our goals. Their light push reduces the resistance and fear that can emerge as you integrate your new writing routine into your day.
That integration begins with setting up parameters that accommodate your current limitations.
I know. None of us want to acknowledge our limitations. They are icky and shameful. Aren’t we doing this because we want to overcome them, ditch them, and forget they ever existed?
We must all start exactly where we are, with our ugly limitations and daily routines. This doesn’t mean that we don’t push against those old habits. By working within our limitations, we use those old supports to shore up our new writing routine until it can stand on its own.
Plus, our true limitations usually include all the things we need to feel good, stay healthy, and be creative, even if they feel scandalous to admit.
So, What Are Your Limitations?
For my first small step, I decided to write for fifteen minutes a day, five days a week. What were my limitations?
- I wake up early naturally.
- A quiet environment allows me to focus, and my wife sleeps in most mornings.
- I am at my most creative in the morning.
- If I wait to write until later, it doesn’t happen.
- If I rise too far before daybreak, I’m sleepy and grouchy all day.
Thus, I knew writing in the morning when the house was still would serve my writing, but I had to pick a time to get up that was not too early. Acknowledging these limitations supported my body, mind, and spirit as I began my new writing routine.
How do you feel about making a list of the things you need to feel good, stay healthy, and be creative?
Begin with general timing. Maybe you are at your best late at night. Perhaps you like to take a break in the middle of the afternoon. Consider when your creativity seems to be highest.
Do you like to work in the quiet? Can you take a bit of noise? Can you tune out distractions?
Do you need to define your workspace? A sign can hang on a doorknob or even on the back of your chair at the kitchen table, warning people to not disturb you. Lighting a candle or placing a totem in your creative space can move your mind into writing mode.
Of course, if you’re a parent, then your timing and space are not always your own. Do you need quiet to work? Then tucking your writing into naptime or after bedtime, may be your best option. Can you work through noise and distraction? Perhaps your writing can occur while playtime ensues.
Give yourself the space and time to explore what you need to maintain a happy, healthy life while integrating your new writing practice. Consider how your small step can glide into your current routine, making accommodations for your lifestyle, body, and creativity equally.
Visualize How Your Small Step Will Fit into Your Life
Adding a small step, even within our limitations, means pushing against some part of your everyday life. Imagining your new custom begins your journey in a nonthreatening way. Tweak your vision until it feels easy and comfortable.
With my limitations clearly defined, I realized that rising fifteen minutes earlier than usual gave me the space to write. That meant waking up at 6:30 AM. The change from 6:45 AM to 6:30 AM seemed very doable.
Next, I visualized my morning.
At 6:30 AM, I would get up. Fifteen minutes to feed the pets and walk to my office. Time to write from 6:45 AM until 7:00 AM. Then, take my shower (½ hour), walk the dogs (½ hour), and eat my breakfast (½ hour). At 8:30 AM, get in the car and go to the day job.
Done and done.
Peace rose in my soul as I realized I’d created the space in my life for my writing to occur.
What is the tiny change you can make to your current routine to accommodate your small step? Can you imagine how it will fit into your everyday life? If it doesn’t feel doable, make changes until it feels simple.
Set Your Stage To Avoid Limitations
This part of the preparation is literally setting yourself up for success. Now that you can see your process, make sure that everything you need to write is ready to go and complete any necessary activities to make the space.
Before going to bed, I placed a pen that worked on top of my notebook. My laptop computer was charged. The writing program I prefer was updated and ready for action.
I also made my lunch for the next day so I could give that time to my writing.
Each evening, I committed to my morning writing time while chopping the veggies for my daily salad and giving my writing space that final check.
What can you do to set your stage? What items do you need ready to go when you walk into your studio or office? Are there to-dos that you can complete to make the space for your writing time?
Time to Begin
With the parameters defined, take action. Get started and see what happens. Adjust this routine as necessary to make it effective for you.
If you think that this small step can’t possibly be enough, know this. By starting where you are and getting comfortable with this tiny change, you are creating the possibility of more. When I began writing for fifteen minutes each weekday three years ago, I never imagined that it would translate into a habit that would encourage my work for hours at a time. But it did, and now I write for three to four hours each weekday.
Begin where you are. Take the action you can take right now. Once your small step has become a habit, you can allow your excitement to push you to do more.
But for now, let your parameters and the routine support you as you take that first small step.
***This piece is informed by and uses Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching Tools™.
Tell us in the comments: What are your limitations? How can you overcome them and set your stage for success?
LA (as in tra-la-la) Bourgeois empowers you to embrace JOY as you manifest your creative goals through her Creativity and Business Coaching. Battle resistance, procrastination, and overwhelm with her at your side, gently encouraging with humor and heart. Discover more at her website, labourgeois.biz