Skip to main content

Dec 19, 2023 | Podcast

Creating Habits and Cold Water Dips, part 1 of 3

Listen Now:


About the episode:

As I’m recording this episode, the holiday season is in full swing and I’m planning my 2024 vision, goals, and still noodling on my word for the year. If I’m being honest, I have a mixed relationship with New Year’s Resolutions and believe that you can start a new habit any day of the year. This is what this episode is all about – The Art of Creating Habits, whether it’s to gear up for the new year or at any other day of your life. This is the first of a three episode series that I’ll be doing on habits. I’m incredibly passionate about this topic and am going to share my tips over the next couple of episodes on how to build consistent habits, starting with using my most recent (crazy!) habit, going for daily dips in the ocean, as an example. We’re going to cover how to transform your habits into deeply satisfying expressions of your identity, how to become consistent with them, and why building healthy habits is especially important if you’re an empath. We’re also going to talk about staying present and choosing habits that actually matter. I believe that committing to a new habit can open the door to an entirely new way of life for you, and can’t wait to share what I’ve learned over the last decade of habit setting!


Topics discussed:

  • New Year’s Resolutions and why they may or may not work when trying to build a new habit
  • Catherine’s most recent habit, going for daily swims in the ocean, and how it has impacted her life
  • Mindset practices that help Catherine maintain habits for months, years or even indefinitely
  • How to cultivate mindset strength to stay consistent with habits
  • Why habit building is particularly important for empaths and how they allow you to take better care of yourself and others
  • The idea that habits can be an expression of who you are and your identity 
  • How to choose habits that make you feel satisfied and fulfilled


Episode Resources:



Connect with Catherine:

  • Website
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Sign up to receive my weekly digest on empathic entrepreneurship and hear from voices committed to spreading this message, sent straight to your inbox every Friday since 2016, here


Work with Catherine:

  • Interested in working 1:1 with Catherine or a certified coach on her team, or joining one of her premium mastermind programs? Schedule a low-pressure call to begin the conversation here.


Click here for a raw, unedited transcript of this episode


Catherine A. Wood  00:07

Hello and welcome to the prosperous and bath podcast designed especially for empaths and highly sensitive entrepreneurs just like you who are committed to achieving holistic success. I’m your host Catherine wood, master certified coach, author, mastermind leader and founder of unbounded potential, a boutique coaching firm for empathic entrepreneurs. I’m on a mission to bring empathy back into the world of business. Each episode will focus on achieving more by doing less, through leveraging Empath friendly leadership practices, boundaries, rituals, and systems, all the while continuing to care deeply about ourselves, others and the world around us. If you are committed to joyful living and running a conscious business, but amassing wealth while doing so, proving that you can have both and a society that tells you you can’t, then you are in the right place. Join me here each week to find out how Be sure to subscribe and leave a review so you won’t miss an episode. Plus, you’ll find all the show notes and helpful resources over at unbounded debt Hello, hello. Welcome back to the prosperous Empath cat here. Here in New England, we have officially entered the holiday season friends. The holiday decorations are up, the Christmas carols are on my favorite radio station magic one Oh 6.7. And I don’t know about you. But over in my world, I am full on planning for 2020 For visions and goals and thinking about my next vision board and my word for the new year. And something that I know many of us think about around this time of the year, our New Year’s resolutions. Now I will be the first one to admit that I have a love hate relationship with new year’s resolutions because I find that for many of us, when we set a new year’s resolution, it’s there’s a lot of significance and attachment that we placed to that resolution, it’s often something that’s a problem in our lives, or something that we want to fix, or change about our relationship with our bodies, which is typically a setup for failure and disappointment. I am of the mindset that we can start new habits and new resolutions anytime of the year. And that’s actually what I want to chat about. So I have developed a series which I’m going to share over the next three episodes on how to create new habits. And this is something I’m super passionate about. So there’s a saying that the things that we can do ease lessly that don’t require any effort or any work that are that just come totally naturally to us and are our true gifts to other people. But to us, they just seem like everyday common behaviors. So those are typically gifts or habits that fall into your zone of genius, as per Gay Hendricks definition in the big leap, and forming new habits is certainly one of those things for me, I have developed a knack for developing healthy habits over the past decade. And it’s really only come to my attention recently that this is actually kind of novel. And I’ve developed some crazy habits that I’ve kept for everyday for a year, or Gosh, everyday for multiple years. And so I actually want to share some of those habits that I have created over the past decade from the ones that have become everyday fixtures in my morning routine to something that I’ve done every day for a year for myself or for someone else in my life. And I want to share a little bit about the art form that it is to build healthy habits. So in today’s episode, I’m going to share I guess my most recent crazy habit that I’ve picked up and what I love about it and the three practices, really all mindset practices that have supported me in maintaining this habit consistently. In next week’s episode I’m going to share about a couple of them more vulnerable habits that I’ve committed to in the past years and why and the difference that they have made in my life and in my relationships. And then in the third episode, I’m really gonna share the single conversation that changed the trajectory of my whole life as pertaining to building a muscle around maintaining habits, because I used to be of the mindset that I could not be consistent in anything. And if you were a fly on a wall, and you could kind of observe how I live my life today versus how I lived it. When I was first starting out on my coaching journey, it is completely different. And it was all the consequence of a single conversation that I had with my coach. So without further ado, let’s jump in to today’s conversation. Because if we’re friends on Instagram, you may have seen or caught a glimpse of the most recent crazy habit that I picked up. Because today I am on day 27 of 27 consistent days of ice swimming, or I guess cold swimming really, because we haven’t yet hit ice in my beach, on my local beach, around the corner from my house north of Boston. And it’s a little crazy. And honestly, this this idea, it, it really came about as a result of my wedding because last year, right around this time, I was planning for my wedding. And when I realized that the wedding planning process was becoming a little too stressful, a little too serious, and not nearly as fun and joyful as I was committed to experiencing. I decided that I needed to shake something up a little in the process. And so something that I really integrated into my wedding, as a kind of a last minute novel idea was this invitation to my wedding guests to join me on the morning of my wedding day to go swimming in my childhood beach where I had grown up swimming every summer. And it was amazing friends on the morning of my wedding last October, we had over 35 of our wedding, guests, family and friends alike on both sides from my side and my husband’s side, join me plus my dogs. And we went for a swim at my local beach and it was so gosh, it was so community oriented and fun and adventure fills. And it really connected me with a sense of community and presence and joy. And I remember after we all got out of the ocean, we all gathered around and had some Dunkin Donuts, coffee and donuts that one of my bridesmaids had picked up. And it was just one of the highlights of my whole wedding weekend. And so when my husband and I moved into our home last month, right across the street from the ocean and around the corner from a beach, I decided why not. And so every day for the past 26 really what started on a whim, I have been going for daily swims in the ocean, and they I’m not gonna lie, they look a little different on different days. Some days, I’ll do a couple laps along the beach. Some days when it’s particularly cold, I’ll just plunge in and plunge out. Some days, I will. I’ll just kind of tread water and do some deep breathing and meditation. So it looks a little different every day. Some days I’ll go in the morning, first thing, some days, I’ll go at sunset. And if you’re interested in following my journey, I’ll totally put my Instagram link here so you can follow my stories. But it’s been so fun. And it’s also been just a really joyful practice for me a way to connect with community and also connect with some of the locals. Some of the locals have been sharing resources for other community members that have this consistent practice. And I know I sponging is is a thing lately and something that’s become a lot more popular. But I want you to know But for me, like this really just started from a, a in the moment commitment, kind of like a gut decision to pick up a new habit. And to pick up a habit with something that is deeply a part of who I am deeply meaningful to me, I grew up by the ocean, I am so connected with the ocean, like, it’s totally where I feel at home. And, gosh, the ocean has just been a part of my life for my whole life. And so it felt like a coming home of sorts. So, it’s also a little crazy, right? Like, it’s a little crazy to be going swimming in the Atlantic Ocean every day, just on a whim. And it’s not easy, like it’s a practice that I’ve developed. And it’s certainly a muscle that I have built over time, because when I first started out, trying to develop new habits, I certainly didn’t have that willpower to be able to make an in the moment decision. And then just like that, with the turn of a switch become consistent overnight, it it was a much more of a journey, much more of a mind game for me. So today, I just kind of want to share some of those mindset changes that have really supported me in developing that mindset strength over the past years and, and why this habit in particular has been so easy for me to commit to so so joyfully and really so easily. So before we jump into that, like I just want to speak to why I feel that this is particularly important for us as prosperous empaths. Because committing to a daily habit, whether it’s a morning routine, or a wind down routine at night, whether it’s a self care practice, whether it is a joy practice, whether it is a daily habit to commit to your creativity, it is so important for us as empaths to find those daily practices, those daily habits that help us reconnect with ourselves. Because that consistency muscle helps reprogram our nervous systems, so that we are starting with ourselves so that we are reorienting our choices based on what fills our cup on what gets us back to being on what reconnects us with our own needs, with our own joy with our own self expression with our own creativity. And as we can really reprogram our nervous systems to start our day with ourselves or, or create carve out time for ourselves throughout the day, that allows us to care for other people from a fully resourced place. And when we can care for and give to others from a fully resourced place, we are able to give generously, we’re able to give open heartedly, while also having a better internal sense of our own limits. A better a better internal sense of knowing when’s enough. And then where that fine line is, where we start. We’re where we stop rather, giving to others at the expense of ourselves. And when we have a sense of that line when we know okay, we need to stop caring for other people at this point. Well, then, we have really found that sweet spot where we can protect our own empathic tendencies without building up the bitterness and the resentment and the resignation that so often follows for empaths who don’t have their own internal boundaries around how to be generous, but boundary. I think that’s so powerful. Let’s just let that sink in. For empaths. habit formation is a masterful practice and learning how to give from a fully resourced, fully generous but boundaried place in that This week’s episode I’m going to share, again a bit more about some of the more vulnerable habits that I’ve picked up over the past decade. And in the third episode, I really want to share kind of my journey, developing habits because I used to be entirely inconsistent, and unreliable to maintain healthy habits. So that is a little bit of what’s to come. But for today, I want to leave you with three of the mindset practices that in my experience, are in valuable in supporting you and absolutely have been invaluable in supporting me in developing new habits. And the first one is something that I think James clear speaks to incredibly powerfully in his book, atomic habits, an easy and proven way to build good habits and break bad ones, because he talks about this idea that when we’re committing to a habit, we have to transform our relationship to that habit from being something that is driven by the outcome, something that is based on the goal we want to achieve the metric that we want to fulfill on, or the achievement we want to create for ourselves like we have to transform from that externally driven relationship to habits into a relationship that is more identity based. So our relationship to habits becomes essentially an expression of who we are an expression of our own identity. So I like to call this the idea of focusing on the experience of life that becomes available to us through committing to that habit, rather than focusing on the externally driven satisfaction or achievement from following through on that habit. So let’s just take my example of cold swims for a moment. For me, I gain so much joy every day, from swimming in the ocean, it is a a timeless moment for me to slow down, to let go of my goals or what what it is that I want to accomplish or what there is for me to do for the day, and to really focus on being in the present moment. Connecting with that, in the moment experience of the stark contrast of the near freezing temperatures on my skin is that in the moment experience of the warmth of the sun on my face, the like close up view of the sunrise, or the sunset at eye level, if I’m looking out over the horizon, like for me, the experience of cold swimming really connects me with a deep sense of appreciation for being present. And I think that experience of presence as you pursue new habits is a really powerful way to get out of your head to get out of your own intellectualizing of a goal, or your own ego identity of what it means about you whether you’re fulfilling or failing on a goal. And it allows you to get into your heart to get into your body, and to connect with those really vivid in the moment sensations of being present, of being a human, of connecting with those, in the moment joyful or contented or wondrous, or intending moments of pursuing something that you love. And that is so crucial in, in really stepping outside of that ego identity that wants to define who we are, or place some external validation on, on ourselves and on our own inherent worthiness based on what we achieve or what we do or what we accomplished. And when we can really do kind of surrender that externally driven mindset. And really connect with that in the moment experience that we want to curate or cultivate more of in our everyday lives. That is so key to really incorporating a new habit, and transforming it into becoming an expression of who you are, rather than something that you simply do. Now, earlier this year, I took a six month course, on mastering presents. And for me, that was such a powerful course, that supported me deeply in really connecting more and more with this, this very core conversation around focusing on who we want to be rather than what there is to do. And if you’re a coach or consultant, and you’re looking for more continued education credits, I’d highly recommend this course we’ll add it in the show notes. But it’s offered by coaches rising, and I really love it. So that’s number one, really connecting deeply with the experience of life that becomes available through committing to a new habit, rather than focusing on the achievement that will be the result, or accomplishment of fulfilling on that habit, or the goal connected with that habit. It’s not to say goals aren’t useful when developing new habits, and we’ll chat more about that in the upcoming weeks. But really, when we can start with the experience. Number two, the number two mindset change that I think will really set you up for success in building consistency around a new habit is ensuring that your habit is intrinsically motivated, rather than extrinsically driven. Now, this certainly builds off of what we talked about in the first point. But I think it’s a little bit different because I, I had a client several years ago, who really wanted to become a morning person. And she had a reputation in her family for being a night owl, and unable to rise at an early hour. And for her becoming a morning person was so deeply important, because her family thought that she was incapable of it. Now, that is a total setup for disappointment for failure, because it is an extrinsically Motivated habit. It’s something that she wanted to accomplish, to prove her family wrong to, to prove that she could. But it was more to prove to them that she could rather than something that was deeply inherent and deeply inspiring for her. So when we really assessed the motivation of her habit, and really looked at what was a what was the habit that was intrinsically motivating for her. We connected with this idea that enjoying her morning cup of coffee, while she read the news, or journaled was something that was deeply satisfying for her. Now, even just that mindset switch of of assessing something that is for her versus either for other people or to prove other people wrong. You’re already setting yourself up for more success now, in our unbounded mastermind, right now, we’re reading find your unicorn space, reclaim your creative life in a too busy world by Yves Brodsky. And she has a really lovely question to assess for your goals or habits in this case to determine whether they are extrinsically driven or intrinsically motivated. So here’s the test. If you were on a deserted island, would you still pursue this goal or habit in this case? And I think that that is just a really simple but powerful framework to help you assess for yourself your your habit, and its motivation. So, last but not least, I want to leave you with the third mindset shift. That will really get you started on a powerful new foot as we approach the new here, and this is something that we talk about a lot, so I’m sure you won’t be surprised by it. But it’s the idea of accountability. We all need structures that we are accountable to in our lives. And we are so much more reliable and accountable to external structures, rather than to ourselves, when we are starting out on a new habit, when we are committing to a goal that is outside of our comfort zone that we have never done before. And I’ll just say that, the more important the habit, or the more important the goal is, the more likely we will be to sabotage the habit and being consistent towards it. So the more necessary, external accountability becomes. Now I will say that as you become more self accountable, external accountability becomes less important. As you become more consistent. As you gain more self trust with yourself, I will admit that external accountability becomes less necessary to follow through. But I’ll add, like when I started, my daily, cold swims last month, I decided that I was going to post on Instagram on my stories, a picture of the ocean, or a little share around how the cold swim went every day, because I knew that I needed a little external support or encouragement as I was getting started. And honestly, this was more of a kind of a subconscious decision versus a intentional structure. But I think because I’ve been in the, in this framework of developing new habits and setting myself up for success, so So intentionally so purposefully over the past decade that this process just kind of flows naturally at this point. But now that I’m on a more consistent, and I’ve been doing this reliably for the last 27 days, I’ve noticed that I’ve started not posting every day on my stories, I’ll post every other day. But when you’re starting out, external accountability is key in setting yourself up for success. And that’s for a couple of reasons. Like when we declare a goal to our family, or friends or a partner, we don’t want to let them down as much as we don’t want to let ourselves down. Because when we know we have other people rooting for us or holding us to account or being inspired by our own consistency, like then the habit is becoming bigger than ourselves. And we’re not just doing it solely for ourselves, we’re doing it because we promised our coach that we would or we don’t want to let our our family or our children down or our team or if we’re posting daily on social media, we don’t want to be embarrassed or have to fess up that we that we weren’t that we we we fell through on one day. So I think that that external accountability can be just a game changer in the beginning as we’re developing that muscle memory around and towards consistency. And then as you become more self accountable, I do notice that that there’s kind of this natural shift away from external accountability. And it becomes less necessary as our new habits or our goals become more ingrained, and a more intrinsically focused expression of who we are or how we show up in the world or how we behave or who we be, as we’re approaching the holiday season. And as you’re thinking about, you know, what are the new habits that you want to cultivate and bring into the new year? Or maybe you want to start right now like I really invite you to consider what is the experience of life that is available to you from fully committing to this new habit? That’s the first mindset shift. The second is what is the intrinsic inspiration or reason for committing to this new habit rather than the externally driven one, which is typically in a Go quickly focused goal or habit. And what is that external accountability? What are those support structures? sure that will make the difference and setting you up for success. If today’s episode resonated, I would love for you to come on over to Instagram and message me or follow along share with me what you’re noodling on or what are the new habits that you are thinking about committing to in the New Year. I hope today’s episode was helpful, and I look forward to continuing the conversation over the next couple of weeks. Thank you so much for listening today to this episode of the prosperous Empath podcast with me Catherine would make sure you subscribe and leave a review so you don’t miss an episode. And so more empaths just like you and me can find the show. As a thank you each month one lucky reviewer will receive a 60 minute coaching session with a member of our unbounded potential team. You can find all the show notes and bonus resources over at unbounded debt Thank you so much for listening and locking arms with me to bring empathy and prosperity back into the world of business.


Get the Essential Reading List for Ambitious Empaths

Snag a copy of our favorite confidence-building + intuition-honing business, money mindset, and leadership books to help you embrace a holistic approach to your success. Grab a cup of tea and let's reverse engineer your life, removing the hustle and grind and replacing it with more joy and leisure.

Navigating Neurodivergence: Energy Hacks for Empaths with Regina Carey

Regina Carey joins me on The Prosperous Empath® this week for a truly heart-centered conversation about neurodivergence and how it is often interconnected with being an empath and/or HSP. Regina is a special ed teacher turned Executive Coach who has spent the last three decades educating, empowering, and advocating for those who feel stuck, yet long to take that next great leap. Recently, she returned from an adventurous trip to Machu Picchu and shares her experience of how saying yes to physical challenges has helped her balance intense emotions as an empath. But something I deeply appreciate about this conversation are Regina’s insights on neurodivergence, especially ADHD, and the importance of managing energy and advocating for oneself. Regina reflects on her upbringing and the influence of the women in her life, emphasizing the need to break patterns of burnout and dis-ease to live authentically. This episode is for anyone who is neurodivergent (or loves someone who is) and is seeking energetic balance in their life. Tune in for actionable steps on thriving more as an ambitious empath.

Visit this episode’s show notes page here.

The Prosperous Empath® Podcast is produced by Heart Centered Podcasting.

Check out this episode!


Download The Book List Now