For those not struggling with basic human needs, the climb towards self-actualisation can be fraught with external and internal challenges, the latter of which has much to do with mindset.
Many of us know that we have bad habits – ones that are holding us back from ‘living our best life’. These can range from destructive and proven unhealthy behaviours such as drugs, smoking and excessive drinking, to more ‘time wasting’ activities such as spending hours on social media or watching too much Netflix. The current world of entertainment at our fingertips encourages us to be lazy. We can sit on our couch and watch a movie, have food delivered straight to our doors and dial a friend from our phone which is sitting within an arms length from us. There’s no impetus to make a conscious choice on how we live day to day when it’s too easy to be carried along by the superficial entertainment at our fingertips.
Yet suddenly in the middle of a pandemic, for those not overwhelmed with anxiety about job changes and the health of loved ones, many of us are lost within this vast black hole of time that we now find on our hands. No more outings, physical interactions and the distraction of social activities outside our own homes – what else is there to do to stave off the boredom of one’s own company? Some have realised that despite today’s technology advancements, this is still not enough to rectify the growing restlessness from within and the general feeling of life being on hold.
Perhaps it’s time then to realise that whilst our external world, activities and achievements may be on hold, our life in itself is not. Within the confines of our own homes, and our own mind and body, life does in fact continue and time is not standing still. The future is uncertain but each day we have a choice in how we live no matter the external circumstances. This view is best exemplified by the famed Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, in his book Man’s Search for Meaning –
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
A simple approach
So maybe you’re suddenly inspired to make a change but don’t know where to start. The best approach is a simple one, starting with small baby steps. If you know you need to quit smoking but you’ve never had self-discipline, then there’s little point trying to quit cold turkey given the strong likelihood you’ll simply start again with any small trigger. It would be akin to trying to run a 40km marathon when you’ve never been a runner. Everything takes training, and likewise the mind is also a muscle.
So consider some of the habits you want to create and some that you might want to kick to the curb. Pick one or two small ones and treat the process like marathon training – start small and increase. If your goal is to learn a new language but you’ve never done so before, perhaps start with learning just one new word each day. Along the way, it’s helpful to create an accountability or incentive system to keep you motivated. This might include providing small rewards for yourself after a 7-day challenge (similar to the sticker system for children), or having a calendar where you mark off each day of achievement (either in paper or using an app). It’s also recommended that you share your goals with others – by verbalising them, you then start to feel accountable.
Research indicates that it can take anywhere between 18-254 days to form a new habit, with wide consensus that the median is somewhere around the 30 day mark. In the scheme of a lifetime, this is great news – you can literally transform your life within a month.
….So today, maybe think about some of the big and small habits that you’re looking to change within your everyday life. Some small ones during a pandemic might include:
- Daily exercise (walking, online classes, indoor gym)
- Daily meditation or breathing, even 5 mins per day can make a difference
- Learning something new – cooking, languages, a musical instrument, knitting, painting
- Home improvements and cleaning
- Creating a new morning or night-time routine (such as drinking a cup of tea each morning)
- Reducing use of technology – time on social media, watching tv, youtube
Even if a goal seems so minor such as eating more fruit each day, it’s about consistency and training the mind muscle + mind/body discipline – the more you do it, the easier it’ll become to then tackle larger goals down the track.
Goals that truly align with your life’s purpose shouldn’t feel forced or like they are expectations placed on you by others. If you truly love coffee and binge-watching shows, then go for it! There is no judgement or morality placed on what your soul wants to do. But if you have a nagging feeling that you’re holding yourself back through bad habits, laziness and external excuses, now is the time to take stock and start taking action. Connect with like-minded people, connect with your inner self and let this isolating time also be a time for true inner growth.
If you have habits you’d like to share – I’d love to hear in your comments below!
CIIARA is all about empowerment, inspiring self-expression and a love for life. By connecting fashion with social impact, we can make a difference in the world – each purchase you make directly changes lives. Our blogs are written to foster authentic living, connectivity as humans and a sense of community.
Chiara is the Melbourne-based founder of CIIARA.