What I Learned from Working on My Habits

relax-with-workAs I’m looking over January’s theme “Relaxing with my work”, I’m beginning to really see how hard I am on myself. I expect myself to master concepts that only great writers, CEO’s, and Zen masters fully understand.

Just because I tell myself to breathe all nice and deep and relaxed over the next week when I’m feeling stressed out doesn’t mean it will happen right away.

Maybe that should be a theme of the month. Stop being a big bully to myself.

I wanted to publish this review of my theme two weeks ago, but I felt like I was still processing my information. Now that I’m ready, let’s begin the review…

Week 1 - Breathing

The first week I wanted to focus just on my breathing. I found that I didn’t give myself goals that were well defined. Because of this I didn’t really get focused on my breathing until halfway into the week.

This is a weakness of mine that needs a little tending to.

When I did remember to take relaxed breaths I felt a lot better. My mood was serene and my mind was much more creative. For example, when I became tense, my breathing was shallow. When I relaxed I opened up my lungs and let buckets of air in. I became much happier.

It’s amazing how the breath is so closely tied to our happiness.

When I take the time to relax with my breath, it’s not hard to be happy. When I let my emotions carry me away, I lose track of my breath and happiness, constrict my breathing and creating a cycle of worry.

Week 2 – Muscles

The second week I wanted to focus on relaxing my muscles. Because last week’s goal of relaxing with my breath wasn’t very organized, I took a more disciplined approach.

I wrote down just one way that I could be more aware of my tense muscles.

So whenever I switched tasks, I focused on my muscles. I noticed if I was tensing them or just not paying attention to them.

By only focusing on one area of relaxing with my muscles, it was much easier to notice when I was straining and when I was relaxed.

Week 3 – Be Playful

The week 3 theme didn’t go as well as planned. It was too broad.

I tried to laugh quietly to myself when I noticed my breathing becoming shallow or my muscles tightening, but I had trouble connecting with this concept.

Maybe I should have been more imaginative. I’m not sure.

What do you think?

Week 4 – Watch the Changes

This was my favorite week. I noticed myself transitioning from one task to the next with a slight smile on my face.

The transition between working on reports then going to a meeting used to irritate me. My thoughts would stray to everything I didn’t like about this change. After relaxing with my work, my transitions were much smoother.

I had to attend an important meeting and instead of worrying about how boring it would be, I focused on enjoying the interactions. My muscles and thoughts were relaxed. I actually sat back in my chair and smiled. I couldn’t believe that I was privy to this cool little show.

Conclusion

I didn’t think that week 3 was a very good theme, but now looking back on it I wouldn’t have leaned back and smiled in that meeting during week 4. I was feeling playful. I was actually cracking jokes to boost the mood level in the room.

I enjoyed the concept of creating a theme of the month, but I felt a little too encumbered by the weekly process. I think I will move back to working on one concept each month without breaking it down into weeks. If I don’t see the progress that I expect from making habit changes then I’ll try another method.

What career or personal development theme would you create for yourself?

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* Psychology today has an awesome piece about our inner voice and how to deal with the extremes within each of us. It's called, The Wolf of Hate.

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