Shake it Up Challenge
As a person who is a serious creature of habit and thrives on order, the idea of shaking things up in my life is both interesting and scary for me. As much as I love having control over my life, I couldn’t ignore research indicating that, “Breaking out of your comfort zone is the pathway to growth.” https://medium.com/@DevinCHughes/the-science-of-breaking-out-ofyour-comfort-zone-169528015649 So, I decided to create a very simple, change focused challenge for myself, my clients and my social media community. I knew it would be difficult in many ways, but I hoped I would learn about myself and help others as well. Below is an overview of the challenge, the lessons I learned and some feedback I received from my friends, clients and social media following.
Suggestion One: Drive a different route to work, school or to run your errands. See if you find a new coffee spot, meet new people or discover a pleasant view!
My observations: I was nervous when I set out because I didn’t want to be late for clients. I planned to leave a bit early and found I really enjoyed the slower pace, watching the kids play outside and really taking in the beauty of the old trees growing on the “back roads”.
What I learned: – Slow down, enjoy the view and you will end up in the same place. I also realized it wasn’t any faster for me to take the highway.
Feedback from others: “I had to look up a different route to go to work. I never thought about trying a new drive. Was fun finding a different way!
Suggestion two: If you make your bed every day, don’t make it one day or vice versa.
My observations: I felt anxious about coming home to an unmade bed and wondered if that feeling would throw my day off.
What I learned: For me this was a good exercise in giving up control that reminded me that I can handle life’s inherent imperfection. But I also did some research and found out little things like making your bed can make a big difference in overall life satisfaction. A recent survey by Hunch.com found:
• 59 percent of people don’t make their beds, 27 percent do, and 12 percent pay a housekeeper to make it for them. • 71 percent of bed makers consider themselves happy; while 62 percent of non-bed-makers admit to being unhappy.
• Bed makers are also more likely to like their jobs, own a home, exercise regularly, and feel well rested, whereas non-bed-makers hate their jobs, rent apartments, avoid the gym, and wake up tired.
The survey concluded bed makers are happier and more successful than their rumple-sheeted peers. Keep in mind these factors show correlation but not causation, so it does not mean that non-bed-makers can’t be happy and successful, but the odds may be stacked against them as research clearly indicates an organized environment can positively impact our mental state. Feedback from others “I have made my bed every day since I was 8. Thank you for giving me permission not to”.
“I never make my bed. It was actually nice to come home from work and look at a tidy bed. Made my house feel cleaner”
Suggestion three: If you work out in the morning, workout in the evening and vice versa.
My observations: I was concerned I wouldn’t get my workout in if I didn’t do it first thing. I did make it but noticed I was less productive in the evening and felt I had less energy.
What I learned: Our energy levels are different at different times of the day. Knowing and planning around your own best energy time slots is important not just for the gym but for work, family time and all your activities. Changing up when you go to work out can introduce you to different people and create variety but in this case, I learned its best to stick to an effective routine.
Feedback from others-“I always work out at night, it helps me sleep. So, I worked out in the morning and I felt like the workout was harder, but I did notice I had more energy for the day.”
Suggestion four: Eat dessert before dinner- Have some fun, break the rules! My observations: I was excited to break the rules and really enjoyed my predinner desert but didn’t eat that much of it. Once I got to dinner I also ate less so it turned out that flipping the script meant I ended up eating less calories. What I learned: I learned sometimes breaking the rules actually has a benefit every once in a while, so I plan to continue to shake it up with dessert every now and then!
Feedback from others-” Doesn’t everyone eat dessert first?, In France that is normal.”
Suggestion five: Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier than usual – See what you can do with that extra 30 minutes!
My observations: I love mornings and was excited to see what I did with my time. I found I simply moved more slowly through my morning routine which was nice.
What I learned: I don’t need to use my “extra time” to accomplish more. Sometimes just slowing down and being present is accomplishment enough…
Feedback from others- “I read the paper, drank my coffee and I loved this.” “I set my alarm for 30 min early and then turned it off and overslept.”
Suggestion six: Try a new food every day for a week My observations: I typically eat the same things from the same place and I found it was really exciting trying new things.
What I learned: This challenge reminded me that variety truly adds spice to life. We all become accustomed to certain things and breaking out of those habits adds so much enjoyment to life.
Feedback from others “I have the same breakfast every morning, so instead of trying something new, I just had something different. This was good for me and I am going to try to mix it up like this more often.”
Suggestion seven: Sleep on the opposite side of the bed My observations: I had real reservations about trying this and found I hated it. I tossed and turned and even had bad dreams.
What I learned: When change is concerned there is a real difference between the impact of conscious and subconscious change. While making a different choice for lunch invigorated me, this change negatively impacted my wellbeing and taught me some things that don’t need to be changed.
Feedback from others “Not only did I not sleep well, my dogs, who sleep on the bed with me were restless and confused. They didn’t like it at all”
Suggestion eight: If you work at a desk, try to stand up and work for part of the day My observations- I have a lot of energy so I was excited to spend time on my feet. I found I had a lot of great phone conversations and I saw different views in my office. I will definitely continue to spend time working standing up.
What I learned: The health research is clear – sitting all day is not healthy and standing lowers your risk for obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes while increasing circulation and lowering inflammation and back pain. This change is a keeper with health and mental benefits.
Feedback from others“ I have a standing desk as well as a sitting desk and when I go to the standing desk, I am not near my phone or computer, so I have the ability to focus on the harder tasks away from the distractions.”
Suggestion nine: Wear your watch on opposite arm or watch face on opposite side of your wrist.
My observations: First, I put the face on the opposite side of the left wrist and I hated how it felt. I then put the watch on the opposite arm. I noticed that I looked at the time more and was hyper aware of the change.
What I learned: This change was small and had no real impact on how I function but still made me feel very uncomfortable.
Feedback from others- “I like my watch on the original side because every time I looked at the time, there was no watch to look at! I kept forgetting that my watch was on the opposite arm.”
Suggestion ten: Shower before bed instead of the morning or vice versa.
Observations: As a person who showers at night, I showered in the morning. I felt rushed and anxious about time and much less relaxed. After this experiment, I know that I will continue to shower at night. It saves me time in the morning and I love going to bed feeling clean. Lesson: Research has shown that it is often said taking a warm shower or bath is the secret to a goodnight’s sleep. Many studies have been done that show that what aids in a good night sleep is the warming of your body temperature. https://www.elitedaily.com/p/does-showering-at-night-help-you-sleep-sciencesays-it-definitely-does-heres-why-8509746
Feedback from others” I tried the shower the night before and I prefer the morning shower because it wakes me up.”
“I loved showering at night and got a great night’s sleep, thank you Allison”
Here is the bottom line, there is always something beneficial in shaking things up because it gives us more insight to ourselves. It allows us to see what we are really committed to in terms of our daily habits and rituals and it also shows us that some things we have been doing need a bit of a change. Change is a great exercise that taps into our self-awareness which is ever growing. The commitment that I have to my clients and to myself is that knowing yourself, understanding yourself is the secret to living life to the fullest. And if we consider our growth in the self-discovery process, we will evolve to our fullest potential. Each of us can be the best version of ourselves. This challenge has been a great experiment and I am thrilled to have had so many people join me!