Changing the habits of a lifetime

In Life Planning by Judith Wardell

Recently I have learned how to manage change. I have learned how to walk. I know that seems odd as it’s something I have been doing since I first learned to toddle around. But I have met a man called Matt Gibbs who has shown me that there are different ways  to put one foot in front of another. Not that I have been doing it wrong all these years (I have walked many miles and can still stay standing!) – just that I could do things differently.

Matt is a Nordic Walking Instructor and well being guru. With his help, I have been learning how to master the art of walking Nordic style. The principle is to walk as if on four legs like a graceful gazelle (I am working on the graceful bit!). It involves relaxing your shoulders, swinging your arms with alternate legs and walking tall; things which I realise I do not normally do.

What I have learned could well change my life. It will help me tone my core muscles, lose a little weight and improve my fitness levels. It should also make me happier by using Nordic walking as a daily workout instead of the dreaded jogging that is ruining my knees. But in order to reap these benefits I literally have to change the habits of a lifetime. 

How do you change the habits of a lifetime?

Getting a good coach like Matt has been the key to my success. He made me understand the reasons why I wanted to try something new and to see the benefits it would bring. Once I decided I wanted to have a go, he guided me through the basic skills and techniques that I would need to master this new way of walking. As I practiced, he gave feedback and encouragement and set new milestones to stretch me a little more. At the end of our training session, I committed to make the change. Making a verbal commitment to Matt has helped me to follow through on my promise. I have bought my own poles and now it’s up to me.

Making change happen

Changing habits is never easy. With my new poles to hand I took a  beautiful Autumn walk along the River  Tees. It felt like a very long walk.  Walking differently felt very weird at first. When I thought too much about it it all went horribly wrong. The trick is to relax and let the new habits start to feel natural.

I was doing well and getting in the swing of it (sorry about the pun!) when I came to a set of steps and then a stile; things in my path that I had not encountered before with my new way of walking. Time to stop and think it through, find a way to deal with it and move on.

Changing habits was hard but I feel great and have no aches or pains as I might normally do. I have set some targets for improving my fitness so I have something to aim for and can measure the benefits.  

The next step is to go public and use my poles when I next go walking with my group of friends. I know I will attract some strange looks and my friends may wonder why I can’t just walk the same way as everyone else. So I will need to be confident in my own choice and be prepared to resist the easy option of reverting back to old habits.

Helping you to make life changes

As well as learning to walk differently  I have gained some great insights that I can bring to my own life planning programmes. Firstly, I want to provide for my clients what Matt has given me. The awareness that I have options and choices; the positive reasons to make a change; the skills and techniques to enable me to change and the encouragement and confident to go out and do it. Secondly, I know I have renewed empathy for anyone who is trying to make a change in their life. I understand how change can be a little scary and how difficult it is to continue to see things through.

If you want to make a change and develop some new habits then visit my website 

See the action life 

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