[00:00:00] Shelley: Hello there, bookish friends. Thanks so much for tuning in to Two Booked Up today. I'm Shelley Tonkin Smith, and I've got a question for you. How do you feel when you hear the word habits? Do you feel a sense of heaviness? I definitely used to feel the sense of heaviness and obligation when the topic of habits came up.
I'd think of all my bad habits. I'd think of all the habits I'd tried to adopt, but just couldn't keep. And then I'd conclude that habits are just boring and robotic, and not for a creative like me. But luckily, I've worked with a few coaches and mentors who've encouraged me to give this idea of habits another chance.
And one of those coaches happens to be the lovely Rowena Mabbott, my co-host. Rowena has always flown the metaphorical helicopter up high so that I can see the bigger picture. And then she's helped me to set up specific habits that support me to bring my bigger vision to life.
And today, Rowena is sharing her approach to habits with you. Rowena's approach to habits is a supportive tool in behavior change, and it is just so different from the behaviorist approach of James Clear in the book Atomic Habits, which I had a bit of a rant on in our last episode, episode 23, and that word "support" and "supportive" is one of Rowena's signature words.
Habits support bigger things. And in this episode, Rowena is going to be giving you a bit more of a foundational intention on which to build your habits, and she's going to be covering seven habit areas that are actually worth that good dose of hard work that habit formation entails. So at this point I am going to hand over the mic to Rowena and let you hear her more intentional and dare I say, softer and more feminine approach to habits.
This is the Two Booked Up podcast, where we talk about books.
[00:02:18] Rowena: The books that are challenging us to live more intentional lives.
[00:02:22] Shelley: The books that are equipping us on our business and professional journeys.
[00:02:27] Rowena: and the books that delight and bring us joy.
[00:02:30] Shelley: If you want to live life with more intention and you want to be doing work that brings you joy, then come and join the bookish conversation with me, Shelley Tonkin Smith.
[00:02:41] Rowena: And me, Rowena Mabbott here on Two Booked Up.
[00:02:54] Bringing intention to habits
[00:02:54] Rowena: Okay, so in our last episode, Shelley shared that one of her big gripes with Atomic Habits was that James Clear dived straight into habit formation without setting the scene for why we might want to foster certain habits. This is where I'm starting today. Considering why we wanna develop certain habits is vital as it helps support our motivation.
This is also where bringing intention comes to be important. Remember, when we say intention, we mean having a bigger reason and being deliberate or strategic about what we do. Connecting with our personal intention can be the supercharger for habit. So, for example, I might see everyone else raving about meditating, and I wanna get in on the action.
So I set myself a daily goal of meditating for five minutes, but I find I can't stick with it probably because I've not really considered my why or the reason I want to meditate. This was my experience some years ago. So keeping with this example, I do now meditate every day and find it very easy to stick with because I am intentional about it.
I know why the habit matters for me, and therefore why it's important to maintain the habit. This is the power of intention being deliberate in our focus. When we get intentional about where we place our focus and with our habits and how we wanna feel, with our time, or even with our reading, we have greater clarity.
And this focus, that clarity brings us back to a place of calm. And an increased sense of control. Now, habits often come to feeling like we have control over ourselves or our space. Now this is especially true when we wanna make a change in some way, which is effectively what a habit is doing. They are small, frequent actions undertaken for a longer term goal.
In effect, habits are small steps in the right direction. Now, the really good news. Research supports that even when we start with just one small thing or one small step, regardless of the size of the change we wanna make, we jumpstart our motivation and obtain a sense of achievement, which in turn supports us to take the next step towards our goal and the next, after all, even big changes are really just a series of smaller changes made over time.
And if you need more persuading, you know there's a book recommendation in here. Victor Frankl's book, Man's Search for Meaning shares that from his experience in Nazi concentration camps, those with short term goals fared better and maintained a better sense of wellbeing than those with longer term goals.
[00:05:45] Common Thread: 7 Habits that Make a Difference
[00:05:45] Rowena: So each of us has different goals and ambitions, but there are common threads that tie us all together. So I'm going to be chatting about seven types of habits that actually make a difference. These are the habits that have that atomic power in that they are small, incremental changes that add up to big transformation.
And of course, being intentional means being selective. As a coach, I'd encourage you to consider one of these habits. If you wanna start taking small steps to transforming your life, trying to address habits from all seven areas would be absolutely overwhelming and counterproductive. Instead, listen in, consider which of these types of habits you already do.
And perhaps after hearing some of these ideas, you might consider adding just one new habit or maybe at a stretch two. Alright, so let's talk about the seven types of habits that actually make a difference and how you can introduce them in an incremental and intentional way.
[00:06:47] 1. Health Habits
[00:06:47] Rowena: Number one, health habits.
Let's start with the good news. You already have heaps of really good healthy habits. For example, brushing your teeth, washing your hands after visiting the bathroom. Showering on a regular basis unless you're a teenager, in which case you're still working on that. These are all habits that probably are now automatic for most of us.
So from that very good base, you could consider adding some other healthy habits, such as drinking more water. Most of us don't drink enough water, as my children have discovered. When they think they're hungry, they are often actually thirsty by drinking a glass of water, they feel better. Staying hydrated helps our entire body and mind function better.
Another health habit that I am a big fan of is taking a walk in nature. If you've been listening, you know I love a walk outdoors. Not only is it good for your mindset, it's a great gentle way to move your body. You enjoy some fresh air, burn off some energy, and improve your health on the way , of course, as a bonus, you can also listen to this podcast or another one, or even an audiobook whilst you're out strolling around the local park or your neighborhood.
[00:07:58] 2. Productivity Habits
[00:07:58] Rowena: Alright, so let's talk about productivity habits, which are habit area number two. So if you wanna accomplish more, make progress towards your goals, and most importantly, make better use of your time in an intentional way, productivity habits can definitely help. Now, the productivity culture can be toxic.
But there are a few examples of productivity habits that have long-term benefits. So the first one I wanna share with you is the one minute idea. If something takes you a minute or less to do, go ahead and do it. Don't procrastinate and put it off. Getting a few things done helps build momentum and positivity.
Now this idea aligns very much with the ideas shared by Kendra Adachi in the Lazy Genius Way, and Greg McKeown in Essentialism. So check out our previous episodes to learn more about both those books.
Another productivity habit is to set priorities each day, and I would say just three top priorities. As again, we shared in our episodes about Essentialism, any more than three, and they're not priorities, they're just a laundry list.
But by getting into the habit of focusing on three key tasks, you build momentum and stay focused, and importantly, you avoid overwhelm. Of course, if you are super efficient, once you complete those three, you can always tackle three more.
[00:09:19] 3. Self-Care Habits
[00:09:19] Rowena: Self-care habits are next. Now, by self-care, I mean looking after our mental wellbeing, not necessarily just getting a pedicure. Although both Shelly and I do love our pedicures. Now, especially as parents making self-care, a habit is vital , when you create space to pause and intentionally spend your time on something you love, that lights you up and restores your energy, it is inordinately beneficial.
Now, if you're looking for some inspiration, I have a blog post which will link in the show notes with a few ideas, but I also have some self-care habits you could explore, which I'm gonna share with you right now. The first one is hard, so I'm gonna just precursor with that. Saying it is a tricky one, but the first one is to learn to say NO, Being intentional means we need to protect our time and embrace our boundaries.
Basically, that means we need to learn to say, no. It is hard, I'm not gonna lie, but it is vital for ongoing sustainable self-care. And again, I've got a blog post that will link in the show notes, which includes tips for how you can say no.
The second self-care habit that I think is worth considering if you've not already doing it is journal.
Now I'm a big fan of journaling and often recommend it to my clients. Writing down our thoughts and feelings can be an excellent way to help us process what's going on in our life. Capture important memories and so much more. Even if you only write a few words or sentences, it makes a difference and it's something you can do wherever you are.
Whenever it suits you, it's portable self-care. Again, I have a blog post that explores the benefits of journaling and also have some daily journal prompts available to download from my website. The links will be in the show notes.
[00:11:04] 4. Growth Habits
[00:11:04] Rowena: Alright, we're up to number four. These are the important ones. This is where it starts to get juicy.
We are looking at growth habits now. Growth habits help transform our lives in a big way. They are all about how we do develop and to learn, and they're aligned with keeping our minds active and c, So what do growth habits look like? Here are a couple of ideas you might like to consider incorporating. If you feel this area is a little underdone in your life right now, the first of all, learn something new.
Whether it's an interesting fact you read in a book or perhaps heard on a podcast or something related to your career or a personal passion, there's no shortage of things to learn. Thanks to our favorite things, books and podcasts, it's easier than ever to find helpful content that is both interesting and illuminating.
Another growth habit is to read five pages or one chapter of a book. , you knew I was gonna mention books again, right? So depending on how much time you have, and of course how much you enjoy reading, challenge yourself to achieve a reading goal every day.
Now here you might like to use our 23 for 2023 reading challenge or something else. It doesn't really matter what you're reading, as we've shared multiple times over our previous episodes. Whatever you are reading, it will help you learn and grow.
[00:12:28] 5. Social Habits
[00:12:28] Rowena: Number five are social habits. Social bonds are critical to our health and wellbeing, and research has proven time and again, it's important to make social bonds a priority.
The best and easiest way to do that is to incorporate a habit or two into your life that encourages strengthening the very important connections you have with friends and loved ones. So here are some relatively straightforward habits you could consider including if this is an area you wanna focus on.
First one is phone a friend. So now when we are younger, we would see our friends every day at school. And maintaining friendships was pretty easy. But as we get older, life gets busy. So it's ideal to be intentional about contacting friends to catch up. Just give them a call and if that feels awkward, and I understand it does for some people, text your friend first to find out what time would suit them to then phone them.
There's nothing quite as nice as chatting to a friend and actually hearing their voice.
And the second social habit you could consider building in is to establish a regular catch up time with friends. When you build in the habit of catching up with a friend on a regular basis, it's way more. This is particularly useful tip for Obligers.
If you wanna learn more about Obligers, check out our earlier podcast episodes on Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies. But this tip also works for all of us. I catch up with one of my friends every Saturday morning to walk our dogs together, and it's one of the nicest parts of my week. We both look forward to it, and our friendship is strengthened as a result.
And dare I mention it, our dogs are now best friends too. .
[00:14:08] 6. Spiritual Habits
[00:14:08] Rowena: Alright, we're, we are moving through, we're up to number six, which are spiritual habits. Many of us associate spirituality with religion, but it needn't be so. I think of spiritual habits as activities that give you a sense of inner calm and peace.
If religion does that for you, great. If not, that's okay. Spiritual habits can help you feel supported as you choose to live your life with intention. Now, here are a couple of easy habits you might like to consider. The first one is gratitude. Simply acknowledging three things you're grateful for each day can lift your spirits and shift your mood in a positive direction.
You can do this at the time of day that suits you. Some prefer it as part of a morning routine. Others in the. Personally, I write my three gratitudes in a specific gratitude journal each evening before bed. And if you're looking to get some tips about how to establish a morning or evening routine, I have a blog post about that and it will be linked in the show notes.
Tip number two under spiritual habits is meditation. Now, I mentioned meditation earlier, but mindfulness meditation is impactful. In fact, scientific evidence shows it has a massive benefit. Specifically, even practicing meditation for one to two minutes a day can bring greater sense of awareness and calm.
Now, if this is a new idea for you and it's one you might like to try, then I would suggest trying one of the free apps that offer guided meditations, because it makes it a much easier way to get started. . I've been meditating for a few years now, but I still use a guided meditation to complete a six minute, meditation every morning, and I just use them on a free app.
[00:15:55] 7. Creative Habits
[00:15:55] Rowena: The seventh habit area that will make a massive difference in our lives is creative habits. Many of us think we are not creative or that we can't be creative until we are inspired. But creativity can lead to inspiration. A habit of giving ourselves time to connect with creative inspiration and going with it supports us to be our best selves.
So here are a couple of ways that you could toy with this or play with this. If creativity is an area you'd like to explore. First up, practice playfulness. Have a weekly practice of play. Schedule time for play and creativity and make sure you stick with it. Now, I know that sounds crazy that you would schedule time for play, but the only way we make things happen is when we commit to them.
So this date, it's a self date is just as as important as any other appointment in your diary. Personally, I have a weekly Friday afternoon creativity time appointment to use for whatever I want. What I do each week varies on my mood and how the week has been. By setting the time aside, I build an intentional practice of Playful creativity.
So you might wanna listen back to episode 13 of this podcast for more about play, where Shelly has explored a much deeper dive into the benefits of play. Or if you'd prefer to read, there'll be a link to a blog post I've got about the benefits of play for adults.
And our last creative habit is to be open to ideas. Creative ideas, as we've shared here before, can come from everywhere and anywhere. You just need to be open to them. Creating a habit of openness can be done by reading widely, whether it be newspapers, blogs, magazines, or books. It can also be done by expanding and diversifying the content you consume. Through that, you build a habit of open-mindedness.
Now, a simple way to do this, of course, could be to download our 23 for 2023 reading challenge list, and to be very intentional in the way you read more variety in your nonfiction reads this year.
So there you have it. Seven different types of habits that support us to live more fulfilled, purposeful, and intentional lives.
[00:18:09] Shelley: Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing those seven habit areas. Rowena, I think this just feels to me like a breath of fresh air compared to the rigid, repetitive hamster wheel that James Clear puts on us that I feel that he puts on us. It's just a lot more, intentional and it's not too prescriptive about what we should be doing, but rather brings intention before and then establishes habits to support those intentions and those bigger picture.
I really like the idea of these categories of habits and then choosing a particular category.
And to me that's very similar to our 23 4 20 23 reading challenge, if you just go to signup.TwoBookedUp.com, you'll be able to sign up for our email list and as you do that, you'll be delivered our very nice PDF with the 23 for 23 Reading Challenge, which has categories of books,
so, as Rowena has said, you can find links to all those awesome blog posts. She is a prolific blog post writer, as you can hear, and so there's plenty more on this topic. So go and have a look in the show notes. We'll list out all of the blog posts that Rowena has mentioned, and as you've taught me, Habits should be supportive and not these burdens that we feel thrust upon us.
So I also hope that for those of you, James Clear fans out there that you've seen that we're not against habits as such, but we're advocating this more organic, more intentional, and perhaps more intuitive approach to habits, and to apply those habits that really matter to you in the big scheme of things.
Let us know if you are going to adopt a new habit based off of this episode, or if we've helped you to see habits in a bit of a new light.
so You can find me on Twitter, ShelleyTSmith. Sign up for my newsletter at ShelleyTonkinSmith.Com. And if you'd like to learn more about my copywriting services, head on over to ShelleySmithCreative.com.
[00:20:17] Rowena: You can also find me on Instagram at RowenaMabbott and we can continue the conversation over there. And if you'd like to learn more about how I can support you as a career and life confidence coach or download my free ebook, the A to Z of Career and Life Confidence, then head on over to my online home at rowenamabbott.com.
[00:20:36] Shelley: and please remember to subscribe or follow Two Booked Up in your podcast player. We've got lots more to say about intentional living, about doing the work that lights you up and about all the books that can help you to do that. So if you're subscribed, then all those episodes will automatically download for you.
[00:20:57] Rowena: And don't forget to visit twobookedup.com where you'll find show notes and a transcript of this episode. And we'd love it if you'd sign up for our email newsletter on the website as well.
[00:21:09] Shelley: All right. Thanks so much for listening to Two Booked Up today.
We'll see you in two weeks time. We will be discussing our new book, so excited about Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, which is by Oliver Burkeman. So tune in in two weeks time. I'm so excited to start that book.