Setting ourselves some challenges

Take the time to read a book. Or sit in the garden. Or both. Photo: Getty Images
Take the time to read a book. Or sit in the garden. Or both. Photo: Getty Images
In the first column of the year I promised I’d set us all a challenge to start doing things differently, writes life coach Jan Aitken.

I wrote that I wanted to set a challenge for us to take different action in order for us to create the lives we want to live.

As I wrote, "the key word here is ‘action’ — we can talk about all sorts of stuff; we can pontificate until the cows come home. However, all the talking in the world won’t change anything". We have to "do", not just think and talk.

I’m not necessarily talking about taking massive action, though that might be what you choose to do. It’s helpful to understand that small actions and changes add up and make a difference in helping create lives we want.

If we want something different then we have to do something differently. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

I invited you to join me, through the first column of each month, to take up a challenge to do things differently. For example, some of the challenges for making changes will include detoxing from our digital devices, increasing gratitude, building self-compassion, living more sustainably and many more.

So, this column is the foundation for those monthly challenges. Today is about taking time to develop some daily habits that we find enjoyable. The aim is to do some things everyday that give you energy and help you to look after yourself. It’s to get you thinking about doing things differently and about making the time and space to focus solely on you. Changing how we do things can take a little time and energy, so let’s get used to that while developing some enjoyable practices that enhance our daily lives at the same time.

These are small things that you look forward to everyday, things you want to do for yourself. In my coach school (CoachU) we call these "daily habits". It’s a nice little daily routine that can help keep you energised, nurtured and moving forward.

I suggest you choose two to five things to do each day. Here are some ideas:

•Thank at least one person a day

•Eat a non-processed, healthy breakfast

•No television in the evening

•Read something you really want to read

•Spend an hour with your children

•Offer to help someone

•Go the extra mile for a client or customer

•Drink decaf instead of caffeinated

•Be in bed by 10pm

•Walk for 20 -30 minutes each morning

•Make your bed every morning

•Meditate for 10 minutes

•Write in your journal

•Take a bath with bath salts

•Cut sugar out from your tea or coffee

•Read the paper every day

•Go through a daily relaxation exercise

•Park further away from the office and walk a little further

•Take 10 minutes to sit in a garden and just observe.

•Or anything else that inspires you ...


Choose habits you want to do; select daily habits that you look forward to and give you pleasure, but that you normally would forget to do most of the time without this type of focus. If it’s something you think you "should" do then leave it out — it will just become a chore.


Most of the daily habits that actually work for people are the ones that add to the person’s well-being or energy. It might mean that you do something like have five vegetables each day, or that you stop something such as watching television or eating after 7pm. Have a mix of "doing" habits and "stopping" habits.


It might take some fine-tuning to have the daily habits that work best for you. If you find yourself not doing one or two of your habits, change or replace them with ones that come naturally. This is not meant to be difficult.


If you are inspired or motivated by visual reminders, set up a chart, reminder in your phone, some sort of visual display to track your habits each day.


At the end of each week take five minutes to review your habits. What ones have you kept, what have you not got around to doing? Do you need to change any?

What impact have the habits you’ve kept had on you?


This is your challenge for the next month. Have some fun with this, enjoy doing something for yourself.

Jan Aitken is a Dunedin-based life coach.

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