Dec 26, 2023 | Podcast

Building Yearlong Habits, part 2 of 3

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About the episode:

Welcome to the second part of my series on building habits. In this episode, I want to talk about how my relationship with habits has changed over the last decade as well as share three daily habits that I’ve been practicing over the past year. As you already know, I’m incredibly passionate about creating new habits, but it used to be something that I had to exert a whole lot of mind power over to follow through. In this episode, I’m going to cover how I built more muscle memory around habits and share some tips. I’m also excited to get a little vulnerable and share the three habits that I’ve been practicing over the past year and discuss the changes I’ve noticed in myself and my relationships with others. This episode is quite personal and I talk about my relationship with my husband, my decision to practice sobriety, and how I truly feel about meditation (it’s not what you expect!). I can’t wait to share these insights with you.


Topics discussed:

  • How to transform your relationship with habits and become more consistent
  • The benefits of becoming consistent with habits (personally and in business) 
  • How to find your bigger purpose for committing to a habit and use it to overcome circumstances
  • The three personal habits that Catherine practiced over the past year
  • How Catherine’s habits impacted her relationship with her husband and social circle 
  • How choosing the right habits can help you become more intentional about your time


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Click here for a raw, unedited transcript of this episode


Catherine A. Wood  00:00

Hello, hello, welcome to the prosperous Empath cat here. If you tuned into last week’s episode on my most recent crazy habit that I’ve committed to, I am so curious to hear what stuck with you what you’ve been noodling on since then. And if there are any new habits that you are thinking about committing to, as we approach the New Year, or honestly, any time of year that you’re listening to this podcast, I have had such a transformation in my relationship to habits over the past decade. And I’m super excited to jump in today and share just a couple of the habits that I’ve committed to, for a year, every day for a whole year, based on some Gosh, just like really intimate experience in life that made me want to change my behavior, or my habits or my ways of being. But before we do, I just thought I’d give you a little backstory on how my relationship to habits have changed over the past decade, how have become more consistent how habits have become less of a mental game and more of just a surrendered practice. I will say that, what I’ve noticed more recently, as I’ve become more and more reliable to just choose a new habit, say I’m going to do it and then follow through is that the habits I’ve committed to have gotten a little more crazy, a little more bold, a little more courageous and have been, I don’t know if I want to say more satisfying, but more invigorating, like more of a, just a full body experience, which was very much the case with my most recent habit that I talked about in last week’s episode. I noticed when I first started committing to new habits, they were, they were so much more around my emotional well being or my own self care. And we’ll talk all about that in in next week’s episode where I really kind of go back to the beginning of when I totally made that shift from not having any habitual routine or consistency in my life to to completely building a new muscle around consistent consistency and daily habits just as a part of my daily life. But I noticed that over time, habits have become much less about something that I have to exert willpower over right, there is less of a mind game, it’s less of a have to persuade myself into it, or talk myself into it. And more of just a like a general willingness, like a general Oh, I said I was going to do this. And there I go, I go now I’m going to follow through. Another shift in my relationship to habits is that I experience so many less fits and starts and stops, like that experience of starting something, doing it every day, and then stopping and then starting over from scratch. And now just more of a general muscle around consistency and follow through that has really supported me in in so many areas of life, right. It’s like how we show up in the personal impacts the professional just as much as the professional impacts the personal and I can safely say that my transformation in my relationship to consistency and being consistent, specifically with habits has been such a game changer in my willingness to show up day in and day out in business. And specifically in areas of my business that I don’t particularly like, or are outside of my comfort zone that I’m trying to become more consistent and reliable in I mean, whole recording solo episodes on podcast is has certainly been one of those areas for me. And one of the things that I think has really helped, which is something that I’ve been noodling on since recording. The first episode of this series last week is the idea that when you have a really clear purpose, or intention for why you want to commit to a new habit When you have a really just like super aligned values aligned commitment for implementing a new daily practice in your life, it is so much easier to be consistent. And that intention or that purpose or that why it has to be greater, it has to be more personal, it has to be more, gosh, heart centered than all of the reasons why not all of the excuses all of the self sabotage, that we so often allowed to be louder than our commitment. Now, to have those practices that have just been year long daily habits for me, and have had really clear purposes or intentions for committing to them are what I want to talk about on today’s podcast. And it’s going to be a little different because mostly, I just want to share my story a little bit more because I think that. Whenever we commit to a new daily habit, we are bringing a new level of reverence, integrity, and intentionality, to that commitment. And I find that when we can clarify that purpose, or that intention, and have it be just really a heart centered habit, it’s so much easier for commitment to be louder than the circumstances. And that is has certainly been my experience with these year long habits that I’ve committed to in the past several years that I want to share with you about today on the show. And I don’t think that these are stories that I regularly tell because they feel really personal and. The first year long habit that I took on, gosh, three years ago, was after reading a book in our unbounded mastermind as I do, as we tend to do, and it was the success principles how to get from where you are to where you want to be by Jack Canfield, and it was a really, it was really long book. But it’s one of those books where you can literally open the book to any page and then practice that success principle like it’s very digestible and you don’t have to read it from cover to cover which is my preference, you can actually just open any page and and take a bite sized gem and implement so. I was reading the book and Canfield was talking about his marriage. And he he has like many beautiful success principles. In the book on how he deepened his emotional intimacy with his wife. I shared about a couple others in a recent episode where I featured Brandon Dhulia and Tim Sokol on the podcast. So you, you can listen to that podcast for more of his gems, but one of one of his success principles was something that he committed to one year on Thanksgiving, because he received some feedback from his wife that she wasn’t feeling appreciated in their marriage. And as we coaches tend to do we hear a problem and then We’ll look at how to rectify or what we can practice differently. And one of the practices that can feel took on was to start a daily journal entry. And he wrote to his wife every day for a year on what he appreciated her for. In some days, it was small things like the meal that she cooked for him, or the way she prepared the home or the way she welcomed him home after being away. And there was something that I found deeply touching from his willingness to share that because you are likely for familiar with Jack Canfield, he wrote the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He’s a very well known personal development expert and coach in the space. And I really appreciated his vulnerability, and his own willingness to share about some of the gaps in his own life and how he worked to rectify them. And it really spoke to me because that’s actually some of the feedback that I routinely used to get from my husband was that he didn’t feel appreciated. Now. I’m sure you’ve heard me joke in the past about how I grew up in an Irish Catholic family from New England, we are not very expressive. Historically, my family was so much more practiced in showing their love through acts of service and caring for other people in doing good deeds, versus being very expressive with their words. And as a highly ambitious Empath, and someone with, you know, very perfectionistic tendencies, I noticed that my husband often got the brunt of that, like I was, my criticism, often reared its head in our relationship, because it was the one place where I felt safe to be critical. It was one of the few places in my life where I didn’t have to maintain such a high level of integrity, to show up responsibly, and to be generous and to be coached in life. And so it really stuck with me when Canfield shared his own commitment and his own daily practice. And so I decided in the moment to take that practice on for myself for a year. Now, I think this was back in 2021, when I committed to the practice, and it was really just, gosh, it wasn’t any special day where I decided to commit to the, to the to the practice, I just ordered a couple journals off of Amazon actually ordered two sets, I was going to gift one, well, I did gift one, to a client of mine who I knew had a similar goal in her marriage. And, and I was really clear, like, I wanted to write a daily journal entry to my husband every day for a year on what I appreciated him for. And, and I did have, of course, right. But but that’s not really what I want to share, like the, the piece I want to share with you is how had some really loud circumstances that would crop up at days, right? Like, you know, when we got into arguments, or when I was feeling disconnected, or I was really like, annoyed. It was really hard in those moments for my commitment to be louder than my circumstances, especially when my circumstances felt really valid or really justified. But that daily practice was so deeply transformational. For me. Something I share a lot with clients when I’m coaching them on their relationship is that it only takes one person in a relationship to be vulnerable, to create space for vulnerability in the relationship and for both partners to be vulnerable. It only takes one partner being willing to apologize to forgive, to let go to move on to create space for the relationship to move on. And that was the experience that I most took away for myself from journaling to my husband for that year because I was able to connect with so many of his quality Is that I fell in love with him over so many of his, his gifts that are just such natural expressions of who he is that I just such natural expressions of who he is like cooking, my husband is an amazing cook. And it’s something that he does with so little effort. It’s really like, like he cooks like it’s, he’s just brushing his teeth, like it just comes naturally to him. And I find that it’s so often those things that come naturally to the people that we love. So often, those things that come so naturally, to the people that we love, and most care about that we forget to appreciate them for those things, especially when they’re doing them for us, like, you know, my husband often leaves lunch out for me when I come downstairs between calls, or he’ll make these elaborate dinners. And, you know, as if he was just like, reading a book, this is not my gift, by the way, I am not a cook. And so I think we sometimes just take advantage or we are neglectful, or we just really don’t necessarily stop to think and appreciate and express gratitude. And so, for me, journaling to him for the for that year, was a way to deepen my connection with all the small things that he does for me that I didn’t always see all of the obstacles that he’s overcome in his own life. And it was such a beautiful, intimate, emotionally connecting journey for me. And I think the thing that I took away perhaps most is that I transformed how I showed up in the relationship simply from my willingness to commit to this practice. And it’s not something that I shared about with him, right. Like it was a sacred practice that I did for myself to gift to him at the end of the year. But it generated a breakthrough in how we were together simply from my own willingness to be different. And I, let’s see, a year later, I think I I handed the journal to him as his birthday gift. And I think he was a little overcome, honestly, I don’t think he has read the whole journal yet. And that’s not even what it was about, right. Like at the end of the day, it was a practice for me to really connect with my own level of emotional expression to give more words to learn how to express my love and myself in a way that does not come naturally to me and you know. I’m Sandy and I’m so grateful for that year long practice that supported me in falling in love with my husband over and over and over again on the eve of getting married last year. So that’s the first year long habit that I wanted to share with you and the sick one is one that I just recently came up came over. It’s recently been a year that I’ve committed to this habit. And it will again it was kind of started on a whim. But I have been practicing a year of sobriety over the last year now. I’m not a heavy drinker. I never have been. But I do have addiction in my family and in my friends circle and I really hate how addiction Shin has caused pain and angst in my family. So this actually was a habit that I started right after getting married a year ago, last October. Gosh, I don’t even remember. Like what the initial reason was, but think it was like a week after my wedding last October, I just made in the moment decision that I was going to practice the next year of sobriety which I will tell you I was poorly timed. Because I committed to sobriety, before my mini moon before traveling to Europe for three weeks. With my husband, over the New Year, I, we spent the new year with my best friend and her family in Germany, we traveled all around. Gosh, like so many beautiful wine centers throughout Europe, and I did not drop drink a drop of wine. And there were certainly those moments where I felt like I was missing out. But for me, like I really wanted to be more mindful and what I was consuming in my body. Notice how I was using alcohol as a means to self soothe, or to manage my own anxiety in social situations. Now, again, y’all I probably only ever used to drink like a glass or two of red wine a night. But I really hated that. That realization that even if it was just a glass of wine, I would use it as like a cheat, like as a way to relax, or to ease my stress. Rather than a like self honoring self loving practice. That allowed me to. But one of the aspects of my own drinking habits that I really didn’t like is that I would often drink from a place of being lazy, like when I wanted to relax or when I was stressed, or when I wanted to just chill. I would have a glass of wine at the end of the night. And it almost felt like I was cheating on myself like I was. I was rather than intentionally finding a way to relax, or decompress or have fun. I would just kind of default to a glass of wine at the end of the night. And I think a lot of this happened during the pandemic when I know this happened for many people in my circle, but I really, I really didn’t like the habit like it felt ontologically lazy it felt like I was being at the effect of my circumstances, rather than being self honoring and self loving. So yet again, I committed to a year of sobriety, and I’m still practicing sobriety at this point, it’s been 13 months, I haven’t had a drink. And overall, it’s been wonderful and restorative and lovely. I find that I am much more intentional with how I spend my evenings. Whether it’s relaxing with a book, and cuddling with the pups on the couch, whether it’s making dinner with my husband, while I sit while he makes dinner, whether it’s watching a movie together. I’m just more intentional around how I want to decompress, rather than just being lazy about it. And it’s also been so much easier in social settings than I imagined it would be. My husband and I have a pretty active social life. I mean, particularly since moving back to Boston where I have such a large network. We spend a lot of time with family and friends here. And in our at our age group. You know, alcohol is a very common additive to social interactions to dinner and and house parties and dinner party is and I always was intimidated that if I committed to sobriety because honestly, it’s it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a couple years, it, I feared that I would. I’d feel awkward or weird, not partaking and not imbuing. And honestly, that has not been the case, I find that I am so much more reliable to bring non alcoholic beverages that I want to consume, or just opt out for seltzer or tea. I also find that as a result of not drinking a glass of wine, I also have a lot more control over not consuming so much food or so much snacks like I’m I don’t have a very good connection with my guts. So I don’t always know when I’m full. And I would find that sometimes when even when I just have one glass of wine, like I’d eat more than I needed. So I find that as a result of practicing sobriety, I’m a lot more mindful with what I consume. And knowing when I’m full, which has been lovely. And I also feel so much more comfortable. Knowing when I’m ready to leave a social setting and as an introvert, and as an empath that has just been so lovely for my nervous system, to really be connected with my own needs, and being so much more self aware and willing to say, Okay, I’m ready to leave like husband, like, can we go I’m tired or not you stay and I’ll go home. Like either way, it has been so lovely for my nervous system. And honestly, I don’t know, when I will practice. Or when I will end my year of sobriety, it has been so rewarding, and I have loved every minute of it. And more recently, I have noticed there have been these moments when I’m out with a group of friends like on our unbounded mastermind retreat in Cape Cod. A couple weekends ago, a couple of our retreaters got a bottle of Montepulciano to share during our dinner out and that is my favorite type of red wine. I have always loved Montepulciano and MultEQ because I studied abroad in Argentina. So how could I not. So who knows, right? Like I’m, I’m kind of feeling those glimmerings like, oh, maybe I will let myself have a glass of wine on occasion, or not, time will tell. But it is so nice knowing that I do not need to anymore. And we’re almost wrapping up, I want to leave you with one other habit, which, honestly, is still not something that I commit to regularly. It’s not something I practice, every day I have in the past, I still have some resistance with it, and it is meditation. And I have experienced huge breakthroughs in the past for meditation, which I’ll share a little bit more on next week’s episode. But in 2020, when I got certified as a kundalini yoga instructor, practicing a 40 day sadhna, which was essentially 40 days of consistently meditating, we had to practice two of them. So it was 40 days of consistently meditating for 11 minutes on my yoga mat. And then 40 days of consistently meditating for 31 minutes is a lot it required so much reverence so much integrity. And it’s hard for me to sit still on a yoga mat. Now. Since then, I’ve realized that I actually generate a lot of the benefits of meditation through other practices, such as yoga, such as swimming, such as hiking in nature, or going for a mindful walk with one of my dogs without bringing my air pods. But there’s something for me that there’s something about meditating on my yoga cushion, that is still a B with for me. And I think we all have those things, right? We all have those habits that we know are like medicine for our soul. And we resist them. So I just wanted to share that this is mine. I’m very much a human I very much have my, my, my points of resistance. But I will say without a shadow of a doubt that when I’m actively connected with my own meditation practice, I am more in tune with my intuition, more connect did with my own inner knowing, and I have so much more ease in making decisions more quickly and with less resistance. So I will leave you there for today with just a couple of my own personal practices that I have committed to for a year for really personal reasons, and reaped just countless benefits from plus a practice that I’m still in process with that I still experience some Gosh, some willpower some resistance, some humanity. So if anything stuck from today’s episode, I would love to hear come hit reply on my newsletter, send me a note, DM me over on Instagram, I would love to hear from you. And in next week’s episode, which wildly is like. And on next week’s episode, which will be the third and final of this series, I am going to start from the beginning and I’m just gonna go back to my own first breakthrough with consistency in implementing a daily habit and what that was for me and how it went and the conversation with my coach that made all the difference. So until then, I hope that you enjoy sitting with this question around what is that daily habit, that if you were to bring intentionality and reverence to could have a transformational impact on your experience of life. Until then, have a beautiful week and thanks for tuning in.


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