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Master Your Daily Practices: 5 Sneaky Traps to Avoid on your Path to Success

Woman sitting in lotus pose

So let’s say that you are ready and committed to shifting your internal ways of being so that you can shift your external experience.

You are so sick of feeling stuck, overwhelmed, uninspired or maybe all three, and you are willing to do whatever it takes to make a shift.

You probably feel like you are in the perfect spot to start something new and succeed right off the bat. 

Unfortunately, what you don’t realize is that the tricky thing about shifting your ways of being (or the ways you are showing up to take action in your life) is that we tend to try to shift them by doing the different actions but in the same way that we’ve always done them.

Avoid these 5 Sneaky Traps

Here are 5 ways that we unconsciously sabotage ourselves when starting a daily practice and what I recommend my clients do instead: 

  1. You try to do all the things. This is sort of like throwing spaghetti at the wall. There are a whole bunch of possible practices that you can try, or that you’ve done in the past, or that other people are doing. So you figure if we do them all, something is bound to work!

    Unfortunately for most of us, doing a lot of new practices at once won’t work for a couple reasons.

    First of all, adding 3, 5, 7 or more practices to your life is definitely going to feel too hard, or overwhelming, or too time consuming, especially if you already have a very busy life. If you’ve committed to 7 practices, and you don’t have time for all 7, you are likely to do nothing because we so easily slip into a mindset of all-or-nothing.

    Secondly, let’s say you have really strong willpower and manage to do all of the practices you’ve decided to do at once. In doing so, you are likely to trigger your nervous system into a state of freeze. Your hyperactivity – doing many new practices – will cause your nervous system to feel threatened. Since our nervous system is designed to keep us safe, any shift to your state is going to feel uncomfortable and therefore like a threat.

    The Solution: Pick one practice that feels like an easy place to start. Ideally this practice has a low time commitment and you attach it to a habit you already have. The simplicity of your practice allows you to commit to it consistently which gives you an easy win. You’ll get a dopamine hit from following through which is going to help you want to do more. As you are successfully able to add one practice, you’ll be able to lengthen the time or add another one, continuing to feel your progress and gain confidence along the way. In addition, by adding practices slowly you will be able to ease into your discomfort and avoid sending your nervous system into a state of freeze.

  2. Only Practicing when we feel like we have the time or we feel like doing it. So many of us tell ourselves that we don’t have the time to do our practice and let ourselves off the hook. Alternatively, we tell ourselves that since we are feeling some particular way (either good or bad), we’d be better off doing it another time.

    Is it any wonder that with all the excuses we never get started or have trouble creating a consistent practice? 

    Unfortunately, to make real progress and shift our ways of being, we have to do something regularly enough to start to really observing how it impacts us, regardless of our external circumstances.

    So by making excuses we are robbing ourselves of the chance to make a shift.

    The solution: Recognize that doing your new practice is going to feel uncomfortable. It may bring up emotions, thoughts, behaviors and patterns that you have been avoiding and would rather not look at. Then pick a time that you will do your practice, hopefully every day. Show up for your practice when you said you would, regardless of how you are feeling. 

  3. Picking the Wrong Practice for You. I talk a lot about how Embodiment is about balancing the 5 Aspects of Self: physical, mental, emotional, mental, energetic and spiritual. 

    Say you are really balanced spiritually already but you decide to add another meditation practice. This feels comfortable for you so is unlikely to shift your ways of being in a way that is helpful. Doing this practice, while accessible and easy to commit to, may end up leaving you too calm, too blissed out, and not willing or ready to take any real action. And as a result, you may actually throw your spiritual aspect out of balance.

    The solution: Take the time to assess where you are out of balance, and choose a practice that will really bring at least one aspect that is out of balance back into balance. Keep tabs on how the practice you are doing is actually helping you or not, and be prepared to adjust your practice or find a new one until you land on something that has the desired effect.

  4. Not having a back up plan. When we are implementing new daily practices, a sense of routine is particularly important. And also, I know that many creatives don’t have a fixed schedule and our availability to do our practices may shift significantly from one day to the next.

    Let’s say you usually do Morning Pages before leaving the house, but you have an early appointment one day. Many of us decide, “oh well, I guess I’ll just have to skip my practice today.”

    Skipping one day turns into two and then three, and then suddenly you don’t even remember that you committed to a practice in the first place.

    The solution: Lay out the ideal schedule for your daily practices. Then do a check-in with yourself every evening before you go to bed. Ask yourself if you’ll be able to do your daily practices at the allotted time. If yes, great!! Carry on.

    If the answer is no, it’s time for you to get proactive and decide when you are going to do your daily practice instead.  By pre-deciding how you will adapt to schedule changes, you can maintain consistency even with a chaotic life.

  5. Treating your daily practice like an item on your to-do list. This means rushing through it and not being fully present with the process at hand. It is really tempting to do this when we are really busy and trying to squeeze one more thing in.

    Unfortunately, rushed daily practices don’t create the type of presence desired to shift our ways of being. We may get a small benefit, but the likelihood that it just makes us feel more stressed is actually more common.

    The solution: Slow down and really be with your daily practice. Even if that means doing it in a shorter increment at first. A 5 minute meditation done with presence and connection to your breath will be far more effective than a 15 minute meditation where your brain is racing and you can’t stop thinking about your to-do list.

    Being with your own experience actually will slow down time and the more you practice doing this, the more it will start to bleed over into your daily practice.

Integration Time

Have you made any of these common mistakes before? Which one do you find yourself falling into the most? 

What intention can you set to make your daily practice more effective right away?

I’d love to hear in the comments below.

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