Posts in Habits

Sometimes I’m so go go go that I forget to relax, so I’ve started scheduling time into my calendar to relax. Instead of making relaxation a reward for completing all the things (all the things never actually get done), seeing it as it's own important aspect of life (because it is – our brains and bodies need time to rejuvenate in order to function at 100%). It might seem a little over the top to actually schedule relaxation into your schedule, but tonight I did and it worked really well (we watched Cool Runnings and did face masks, which was a brilliant combination). I didn’t feel guilty for taking time off because I had scheduled it into my week – not that I should feel guilty anyway, but it can be easy to get so focused anything else feels like a distraction. Tomorrow we head to Cardiff for the weekend, which I’m really excited about because I’m looking forward to a break from our usual routine.

6 months of daily meditation: review
I don’t have a photo of me meditating because I’m almost always alone with my eyes closed (not ideal conditions for a photo!)

I don’t have a photo of me meditating because I’m almost always alone with my eyes closed (not ideal conditions for a photo!)

I’ve just hit 183 - the halfway mark to my goal of 365 days of meditating! Here’s a review:

  1. It’s only in the last few weeks that I’ve really been pushing myself to meditate in the morning no matter what. It’s such a relief not to get into bed at 12:30 and think “ah! I forgot to meditate!” I’m trying to make morning meditation a non-negotiable.

  2. Some days, I do a 30 minute guided meditation, and other days, it’s 5 minutes of deep, focused breathing. I’m not regimented about it - I do what I feel like, which keeps it enjoyable and fun, and not a chore. I think this is a major key to habit formation. Keeping it FUN (e.g. I could be running harder and faster, I could be doing more push up training, but I’m determined to keep them enjoyable and fun, so I just focus on keeping the habits).

  3. I’m most surprised about this: I don’t think I’ve progressed in terms of being able to focus on my breath for longer. I’m equally as distracted as I was when I began. I’m not sure if this is because I’m not working on it very much (e.g. 5 or 10 mins a day compared to hours), or if I’m just not “doing it right” - an idea that I very much resist, as that’s not my aim of meditating (see point 4).

  4. My aim is to feel good and enjoy it in the moment. This isn’t really about “getting to 365 days” as a goal - it’s about forming the habit of taking care of myself. I just love a challenge - it gets me more excited than “meditate every day” would. (I’ve tried that too, for the past 10 years, and failed miserably, so tip, if you’re struggling to form a habit, make it a challenge!).

  5. I love guided meditations the most. Today I did an incredibly blissful 5 minute one.

  6. It still doesn’t feel like a habit, because I’m doing it at different times of the day. However, I know from past experience that if I stopped, after a few days I would really notice and crave it.

  7. When I’m anxious or stressed, I often think to meditate as a solution. It works!

  8. I’m looking forward to the next 182 days - I’m so grateful I started this challenge.

My top 3 guided meditation recommendations:

Do you have a meditation practice? Let me know about yours in the comments by clicking the blog title!

Counting my blessings

It’s so easy to think we aren’t doing well. Not succeeding fast enough, not making enough cash, not getting enough likes on Facebook. I hate to admit it, but I get caught up in this trap sometimes. The “I should be further ahead by now” trap. I was feeling it today.

But I just went out now to get something to eat from the corner store, and outside there was a man begging for £2.30 so he would have enough to get a room in a hostel for the night. He was sober and really quite sweet. I gave him the money - which I don’t ordinarily do passing by - but I just felt today it was right. When someone is begging me to help them get a bed - what would I want someone to do, if I was in that position? I know there’s a lot of politics around whether you should give money or not, but in the end, I just have to go with my heart. I wouldn’t sleep tonight if I knew he might not have a bed because of my actions.

I remembered something I’d heard a while ago - that when someone asks something of you, they are really giving a gift to you. I didn’t help him, he helped me. He helped me by giving me the opportunity to walk my talk of compassion. He helped me by reminding me how grateful I am to have a roof over my head, food, a support network of friends and family, and my health. He helped me by giving me an opportunity to make this world a better place - even in the smallest, tiniest way - something I want my life to represent.

And now he’s helping share a message. Count your blessings. Your worst-case scenario is probably someone else’s dream life. I’m not even really writing this for you, reader. It’s just a note to self: don’t forget this.

HabitsSarah Arnold-HallComment

Does this quote haunt you? It kind of haunts me. I think about all the things I would have achieved had I followed through with my plans. All the things I had planned to do. But I didn’t do them, did I? (E.g. when I was 16-18 it was my dream to be a DJ/producer like Avicii or Martin Garrix, and I didn’t take enough action. I bought a turntable, but I didn’t practise!). Not even because I was lazy, or didn’t work hard enough. Just purely because I wasn’t consistent enough with my actions.

Some of you will be thinking I’m totally right. And there are others who will be thinking I’m being way too harsh. I don’t believe I’m being too harsh. Because I think in general, we let ourselves off the hook too easily for the things we can control, and we blame ourselves too easily for the things we can’t control.

Here are some of the things that are waiting for me on the other side of consistency:

  1. A thriving YouTube channel. I know very well that the only reason I haven’t progressed my YouTube channel is because I haven’t been posting consistently. That’s about to change, because this month I committed to creating 4 videos.

  2. Long term financial stability. I didn’t ever have a decent plan. I just sort of thought “I’ll save up money and then spend it and then save again.” Isn’t that what people do? (The answer is yes. But that doesn’t mean it works well!) Now I’m following financial guru Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps for financial peace. It really has given me peace of mind.

  3. 100 push ups. I can do about 10-13 at the moment. I haven’t progressed very far from my last few weeks because I haven’t been making training a priority (so just got down and did 10 right now - gotta walk the walk if I talk the talk!).

  4. Windmills. I’ve been wanting to get this breakdancing move since I was 15. Have I been practicing consistently? Nope. I haven’t even attempted one for a couple of years. And you know what’s crazy? I reckon I could get it in a few months if I practiced consistently enough, because last time I tried, I could do half a revolution. But I’ve been stuck at half a revolution for 8 years! It doesn’t need to take that long. I never mentioned it, but this is my main motivation for getting 100 push ups. My upper body strength (and balance) has been holding me back a bit. I don’t currently have a plan for when I’ll begin training again. But it’s one of my 8 Impossible Goals currently on my list (which you can read here).

  5. French. I studied it for FIVE YEARS and I still can’t speak it properly. Did I work hard? Yes. Was I consistent? Nope. Still a major goal.

What is waiting for you on the other side of consistency?

HabitsSarah Arnold-HallComment
Trying out editing
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If you saw my September Goals you’ll know I have a plan to work on my photography for my blog, because I absolutely love reading blogs with delicious photography. I was hoping to get out and take some snaps today, but I didn’t get a chance because I was working most of the day, editing the next Impossible Incubator masterclass. So I decided to have a go editing some photos from our travels in Greece, so I’m still working towards my goal of having beautiful photography, by building up my editing skillset instead.

I also complained today about not getting enough work done - oops! Back to day 1 on the 21 day no complaining challenge.

Who is the secret jury you are trying to impress?
This photo is unapologetically yet nonetheless entirely staged as I often meditate at 1am in my pyjamas in the dark and that doesn’t make a good photo!

This photo is unapologetically yet nonetheless entirely staged as I often meditate at 1am in my pyjamas in the dark and that doesn’t make a good photo!

This is the guided mediation I’ve been listening to recently and I love it. It’s so relaxing and uplifting.

This is the guided mediation I’ve been listening to recently and I love it. It’s so relaxing and uplifting.

Sometimes I feel like I have a jury in my head, a panel of people I know in my real life who have gathered to approve or disapprove my actions. Exhaustinggggg.

It’s not often I feel that way. But sometimes, when I’m making a decision, I can feel the presence of that jury. Kind of like the classic angel/devil on the shoulders in a cartoon. Except it’s my entire extended family and my 500 Facebook friends.

When I first set my challenge to meditate for 365 days in a row (currently on day 154), I imagined myself being some enlightened Buddhist nun on a hill with her head shaved by the end of the year. I imagined that my jury would be pleased with me for attempting to become an enlightened human being.

So I feel like I’m “cheating” because I’ve actually been listening to guided meditations for 10 minutes at 1am, and I’m not sitting cross-legged in silence in a cave for 4 hours everyday.

But I remember that I WAS THE ONE to set the challenge! I’m not doing it to be ‘right’ at meditating, or to impress my jury. I have to remember WHY I am doing it. I began the challenge because I wanted to reduce anxiety and enjoy the many benefits of meditation. I totally believe I’m doing that. Bye-bye jury. Bye, Felicia!

Who is the secret jury you are trying to impress with your actions?

Complaint free challenge

The other day, someone responded to an Instagram story I’d posted about being too hot, forced to buy plastic bottled water, in an overpriced airport cafe after my favourite cafe was shut. She said “STOP COMPLAINING!”

My immediate reaction was, “I’m not complaining! I’m just…” Oh wait. I watched the Instagram story again. The last 3 videos were all of me complaining. I had no idea I complained so much! I thought I was such a positive person! (I do still think that - but there’s always room for improvement!)

There’s this challenge called “The Complaint Free Challenge”, where you try to go for 21 days without complaining. You have to wear a bracelet or watch (or even a rubber band) on your wrist, and each time you complain, you switch it over to the other wrist, and you go back to day 1. So even if you’ve gone for 15 days without complaining and then you make one complaint - you have to start from day 1! It takes the average person about 4-6 months to complete the challenge, apparently!

So today I’m beginning - let’s see how long it takes me! I’ve chosen this rubber bracelet so I can wear it in the shower. Are you keen to try this challenge? Let me know in the comments (just click the title of this post).

Quick Life update

I’ve got so many thoughts and exciting things to share coming up over the next few days, so for now I thought I’d give you a bit of a life update!

Oh my goodness I’ve had such an incredible response to my last post on my First Year in Business: Honest Review, thank you all for your messages, I will be sharing more content like that soon!

I also shared an Instastory about how I finally overcame my fear of flying, and I had loads of messages asking how I did it. I was considering sharing it in a blog post today, but I want to make sure I really do it justice, so I’m going to create a video about it over the next few days so I can take you guys step by step through the process.

I’m getting seriously excited about what’s coming up on my YouTube channel. I spent the weekend in Budapest with my friend Laura, a YouTube vlogger, and she was filming so naturally all the time and I realised how easy it can really be (clearly I had a mindset block around this!). Keep your eyes pealed!

Today I played Tennis with my boyfriend and his parents who are visiting, and I was expecting to get really hot and sweaty (so I could earn my shower!), but I actually found it quite relaxing and slow (so I didn’t take a shower - I’m holding myself to the rules!). That means I’ll definitely be getting a run in tomorrow morning (hack: I’m even sleeping in some workout gear so I can just jump up and go!).

If you’ve been reading my latest posts you’ll know I’ve been working majorly on mindset (and already reaping the rewards with overcoming my fear of flying!). Today I purchased a physical copy of Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, the number one most recommended-to-me book of all time (and other people, it seems, 15 million copies sold!). I usually consume all of my content on digital devices, and I’ve already started reading it on my phone, but it’s just not as satisfying as turning pages. I figured, if this book is as good as everyone says it is, I’ll want to highlight bits in it!

I’m really interested to find out what kind of content you guys want to see from me, so let me know if you enjoy reading updates like this, or if you prefer “how to” content, or stories from my goals/life.

Talk soon!

Progress doesn't always feel like progress

Today felt like it just wasn’t as productive, because I didn’t get everything done. But when I actually look at what I did get done, I realise how progressive it was (how much it progressed me forward).

Today I did not:

  • Clean my room

  • Write show notes for the recent mastermind

  • Watch an online workshop I was hoping to watch

  • Go for a run (although, I didn’t shower either, since I didn’t earn it - if you don’t know what I’m talking about click here)

  • Water the garden (although it rained so I didn’t need to luckily)

  • Buy a present I needed to buy

  • Do any cooking whatsoever

  • And all the other tasks that seem terribly important but totally aren’t

Instead, what I did get done was:

  • Meditate

  • Mindset journal

  • Write up my vision for 2019 & 2020

  • Post on my blog (right now)

  • Plan my next Youtube content

  • Book 6 calls

  • Coach a client

  • Email my next Guest Expert for Impossible Incubator

  • Connect online and respond to comments

  • Reset the Escape Room that my boyfriend runs

Most of those things are pushing my life forward. Sometimes it can be easy to feel lazy or unproductive, but when you really measure it, you are still pushing forward. That’s the important thing.

How can I make tomorrow even better?

I’m going to get up early to get my run and meditation in before my first client call of the day (of 7!!).

It’s 12:40am, better go to sleep now to make it happen!

To actually do list

Today I experimented with making my to do list completely non-negotiable. You would think that’s the whole point of a to-do list, but for some reason my mind likes to pick and choose what I’ll actually follow through on.

When I write the list I have every intention of doing everything on it and being mega productive and progressive, but somehow when I come to actually follow through, I don’t do it. But what does that say about my commitment to my goals and dreams? It says I don’t care enough. And I don’t want that to be true.

So how did today go?
I got everything done. I’m actually a little bit surprised!
There was a point where I thought I wouldn’t, because I was completely running out of time to water the allotment (so I had to change my schedule around to do it in the evening instead) and then I didn’t feel like doing a livestream, but I just made sure I prioritised my list over my other activities (a.k.a. fluffing around on social media).

“Do a livestream” has been on my list every single day for 9 days now. Today was the first day I followed through, because I just made it absolutely non negotiable. Not doing it just wasn’t an option. Even as I write this I can see how silly it is that I didn’t do it at some point in the last 9 days.

My biggest takeaway is that this technique really makes you FACE the mental obstacles and blocks head on. I hadn’t done a livestream ever on Instagram so I had a mental block saying “put it off, it will take so much preparation to do a good one…blah blah blah." But because I HAD to do it, and I didn’t have much time, I just sat down and did it in the space of 10 minutes. I swear, just making my commitments non-negotiable is changing my life (it worked with exercise and meditation too).

I did get a LOT done today. But as someone pointed out, I also wasn’t really in a “flow” state. It was quite forced. My full morning routine took twice as long as I thought it would (I usually do some of it in the evening so I don’t realise how long it actually takes). About 1.5 hours. Eeeek.

It’s 2am and I just got back from a party (as you can see from the photo above), which was actually on my list of to dos - “do something fun with Georgia in the evening” (I’m 100% sober, but it still takes effort to write a blog post at this time!). I wanted to make sure I actually wrote this at the end of my day so I could sum up properly:

To sum up:

  1. From now on I’m only going to add things to my daily to do list if I actually intend on doing them that day, because I am committing to viewing my daily to do lists as non-negotiable from now on. I think I’ll start writing a “to actually do list” instead of a to do list.

  2. I’m going to make some changes to my morning routine to streamline it and get more in a flow state of mind with it.

  3. The public accountability (Instagram) really motivated me. I don’t think I would have felt as dedicated to it if I hadn’t shared it with the world. So if you’re trying to do something, sharing it publicly somehow (Facebook groups, Instagram, email, offline conversations) can make a big difference.

Let me know if you want to start viewing your to do list as totally non-negotiable too (or if you always have!).

Daily action
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If there’s one thing that has absolutely changed the game for me in my life and business, it’s taking daily action. Not weekly action, not every second day action, not 6-days of the week action, DAILY action.

Showing up every single day.
Here’s a list of the things I actively commit to doing every single day:

  1. Gratitude journal

  2. Meditation

  3. Brushing my teeth in the morning & evening (YES, I actually have this on my habit tracker, because I used to miss days when I was rushed, and now I never miss a day)

  4. Exercising before showering

  5. Taking vitamins

  6. Mindset journaling

  7. Posting on Instagram/Facebook

  8. Posting on Instagram Stories

  9. Blogging (I’ve committed to every single day for 2 years!)

I have every one of these daily actions scheduled into my habit tracker.
And I do them every single day.

And it feels SO good to know that no matter what, I’m always taking action.

Today I was absolutely chock-a-block busy (organising Impossible Incubator!), but I made it a priority to get all of those done!

If you want to see RESULTS in your life or business, commit to DAILY ACTION. It will move the needle forward faster than anything else.

How setting impossible goals changed everything for me
Running today in the park near our house

Running today in the park near our house

The grey circles are the days that I didn’t run but also didn’t shower (so they still count as successful). If I were to shower without exercising, I would have to colour it RED! Ah!

The grey circles are the days that I didn’t run but also didn’t shower (so they still count as successful). If I were to shower without exercising, I would have to colour it RED! Ah!

I had no idea that the word impossible would transform my entire life.

Impossible fires me up. When I hear someone say the word impossible, I’m like, challenge accepted.

One of my biggest fears is leaving this world without having made a positive impact. And the thought of leaving it in a worse state than when I arrived here (e.g. from my carbon footprint, damage to the planet or the beings on it) makes me feel absolutely sick to my stomach.

What lights me up is my vision of an extraordinary life! Going for a run occasionally doesn’t fuel me with excitement. I don’t want to sort-of live life. I want to go ALL IN on life.

Turns out I need an IMPOSSIBLE GOAL to be fired up.

Impossible goals that I’m actively working on day to day:
I have a bunch, you can read about the others here, but these are the one’s I’m working on at the moment:

  1. Showing up online every single day for TWO YEARS (e.g. blogging, Instagram, Instastories, Facebook, Youtube etc.). Just getting started - I’m on day 5!

  2. Meditating every single day for a whole year (day 125 today).

  3. Exercising every single day (or I don’t get a shower) I’m on day 47, 39 of which have been running days, 8 no shower. I’m totally astonished at how by setting an impossible goal to exercise every single day, I’ve suddenly been able to become a runner, after 23 years of thinking I just wasn’t the TYPE of person who could go for a run.

I feel a buzz every evening when I get to check these goals off on my habit tracker. Nothing feels as good as going to sleep with a perfect record, knowing today I’m one step closer to doing something I used to think was impossible for me!

Don't be productive, be progressive.
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For a long time, I’ve mistaken productivity for progression.

There’s already school of thought around “Don’t be busy, be productive.” But I want to take it a step further. Don’t be productive, be progressive.

Here’s the difference:

Busy = doing things
Productive = doing focused things
Progressive = doing focused things that move your life forward in the direction you want to go

If only I’d discovered this third category sooner. I’ve been pulling my hair out over the last year wondering why even though I’m focused and getting things done, I don’t seem to be moving forward at the pace I’d like.

Sure, you were productive today. But did you make progress?

My day today:

Wake up
Gratitude journal
Eat breakfast
Brush my teeth
Hang up a load of washing
Go for a run
Put on another load of washing
Edit video for Impossible Incubator
Eat lunch
Mindset journaling
Post on Instagram stories
Hang up another load of washing
Watch youtube
Cook picnic food
Go for dinner with friends on the beach
Write this blog post

Can you spot the only progressive thing I actually did?

At the end of my day, I have to be totally honest with myself and ask “If today were erased from existence, would it affect my future?”

I can’t kid myself that putting on 3 loads of washing and going for a run is truly progressing my life forward. My run today won’t affect my life in 1 years time. I could go running every day for the next year and still be in the exact same place in my life. The same with my meditation, or my gratitude journal. They are both good things to do. They are productive and important. But they aren’t progressing me towards my dreams.

The only progressive thing I actually did today was editing my video for my Impossible Incubator launch. It will affect my life in 1 years time, because if I don’t get this launch ready, I’ll have to push it back ANOTHER month, and that will delay my future youtube videos, and podcast, etc.

Seems kinda harsh. But I wish I’d known earlier, I could have saved myself a lot of wasted days.

Ask yourself, did I do something to progress my life forward in the direction of my dreams today?
If the answer isn’t a definite YES, then plan something progressive to do tomorrow, right now!

Showers aren't given: they're earned

Today I woke up and immediately went for a 15 minute run. I’ve been doing this for 43 days now. I’ve only ‘missed’ 7 days. But they aren’t actually missed days, because my running is part of my new rule: I can only shower if I’ve earned it, by exercising enough to need to wash off sweat. Gross, but unbelievably effective.

Just like respect, showers aren’t given, they must be earned.

So on the 7 days I didn’t run, I also didn’t shower. And now I’m 43 days strong. It works because I love showering. Or, more specifically, I love being clean. (Or, even more accurately: I really don’t like smelling bad - who does?). Me, 43 days ago, would never believe it. I have NEVER in my life been so consistent with exercise. Ever.

The other day, I didn’t have time to go for a run, so I didn’t get to shower. And the next day I was so busy editing my latest video I didn’t get a chance in the morning - and all day I felt hot and icky and greasy (it’s summer in England!). By 6pm when I’d finished editing, I was exhausted and certainly didn’t feel like exercising. But the pain of being sticky and icky outweighed the pain of going for a run. And so I went for a run, and earned my shower. It felt so. good. to be clean.

This rule works like magic to form a habit. I can’t believe I never knew about it until now. I’m even considering creating another habit using this rule " ____ aren’t given they’re earned” E.g. “Social media isn’t given, it’s earned”.

P.S. I didn’t invent this rule. I have no idea where I originally heard about it, so if you know the person, please share so I can thank them with a jumbo bouquet of shower gel!