Well, I never thought I’d be quoting a 17 yo rapper but Capital Steez has a point: You really never are too old for baby steps, as I’ve been finding out recently with my cold shower escapades.
3 years ago, almost to the day, I started taking cold showers after I attended Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within (UPW) in Sydney. As part of this, I also heard Wim Hof (aka The Iceman) speak. If you don’t know Wim, he’s a 61 yo Dutchman who has famously set Guinness World Records for the amount of time spent swimming in ice cold water, and the breathing technique that enabled him to pull it off.
The benefits of ‘cold therapy’ are pretty compelling, both physically and mentally. So after listening to The Iceman himself, I was keen to give it a try and started having a purely cold shower.
I know you’re going to be shocked (!) but the whole cold shower caper didn’t last long – I can’t remember how long now but it finished not long after it started, that’s for sure. I’m a big fan of actions being sustainable (which is why I don’t commit to going to the gym e’ry day, but 3-4 x a week, or why I don’t do 500 posts per day on insta because, let’s face it, only an ‘influencer’ can manage that kinda form right – yes, tongue firmly in cheek), and the thought of never having a hot shower again definitely wasn’t a winner for me long-term.
Then fast-forward to this month where I was listening to an interview series by Edwina Droomer-Murphy with Tara Garrison (Personal Trainer; nutritionist; coach; mum of 4 and woman extraordinaire!) and she was talking so much sense in terms of nutrition; exercise and (you guessed it) cold showers!
My take home message from listening to Tara was:
– start small
– take little steps
– stop trying to make it ‘perfect’, and
– build slowly
When I heard that Tara had started having cold showers by having a regular hot shower first and then turning it to cold for a few seconds, I thought “I can do THAT!”. Because let’s face it – who on earth wants to wash and condition their hair and shave their legs in freezing water, ladies?! Not me… yet 😉
At the start of the school holidays I told my kids that I was going to have a cold shower every day for the whole 2 weeks. (They were also supposed to have a cold swim in the unheated pool every day for the same duration, but the little slackers have dodged that for a couple of days in a row now, so don’t trust your kids to be your accountability buddies, if they’re anything like mine!).
Day 1: I started with 3 seconds of cold water (longer than it sounds, I promise you). I could have easily told myself it wasn’t long enough but I just started with what I could tolerate and then committed to increasing the amount of seconds I chose, day by day).
So I then did 10 seconds, then 15, then 30 and so on, building on the duration every day. I progressed slowly but in a way that I could sustain. By day 4, my panic breathing had stopped and my body had started to adapt.
So How Does This Apply To Business and Life?
Well, here are my 5 key learnings that will apply to any area of your life:
1. There’s more than one way to skin a cat (sorry, cat peeps).
After UPW, I started doing cold showers full bore. I went hard and then stopped. Then that was it for 3 years, despite knowing the benefits. Just hearing how one person (Tara) had changed the ‘rules’ to make it more achievable was enough to get me to give it another go, using her techniques for inspiration. The funny thing is that there are no rules. Not really. I was imposing rules on myself.
With my mindset coaching and mentoring clients I often explore ‘all or nothing’ thinking, which is when a client is only aware of 2 options. In this situation, I was doing it myself:
1) cold showers OR
2) hot showers,
when actually there are many other options as well.
Think about what you been avoiding doing in business or in life that you know would be beneficial but seems too painful? And what the self-imposed rules are around this.
2. Know Your Target:
You’ve probably heard the expression that you can’t hit a target if you don’t know where you’re aiming, and it’s true.
I committed to doing 14 days straight and have a choice about what I do at the end of that. I wasn’t committing to ‘forever’ without having given it another go and seeing if it was a good fit.
With anything new that you’re trying, commit to a certain timeframe so you know what you’re aiming for. That way you’re less likely to crumble when it starts to feel like a bad idea and the motivation has gone.
Maybe it’s a social media strategy; a newsletter; emailing people you’d like to connect with; networking (shock horror!) or even exercise or meditation.
3. Get Other People Along For the Ride:
There’s a reason why fitness; weight loss and nutrition challenges work:
– Because you can cling to the energy and motivation of others when your own is waning
– You can share your wins and success stories
– You have more accountability (compared with what you silently agreed to in your own mind and didn’t share with anyone) and you might even challenge yourself to achieve more. At the gym I like being around people who are fitter than me, because it inspires me to go a bit harder or faster, and this is the same.
– And in my mind, it’s just more fun! It’s easy to make everything dreadfully serious and it doesn’t really need to be
So, like Capital Steez says, “You’re never too old to take baby steps”.
It’s overall more important to be consistent than it is to have big wins early and then stop altogether.
So My Questions For You Are:
1. How could you tweak something you want to do but may have put off because it felt too hard.
Instead, how could you create bite-sized pieces rather than getting overwhelmed with the whole. This might require you to change the ‘rules’ that you’ve made for yourself, and ask yourself what could be done differently to make it more appealing and sustainable.
As an example, I used to have ‘rules’ about meditation which involved ‘clearing my mind of all thoughts’.
Ummmm, that wasn’t happening any time soon so I stopped meditating (ALL or NOTHING thinking).
Until I realised I could allow thoughts to come up and then let them go and that was just fine (which is something in between – are you seeing the pattern here?).
2. Who can you take along with you for the ride?
It might be a friend; your partner; someone in a group you’re part of; a coach; a mentor; someone in the same business community as you (but not in competition); your kids (beware, haha).
Share the love. I have a few people in my Love Your Life facebook group who have joined the challenge and some others from my networking group who wanted to give it a whirl as well. We share how we’re going; get tips from each other and stay accountable.
3. What are you aiming for (so how will you know when you’ve completed it)?
– How many days or weeks are you committing to?
– What does it look like specifically?
4. How will you celebrate when you’ve got to the end of your challenge?
Because celebrating when you’ve achieved hard things is crucial to feelings of progress; pride in yourself; and attaching feelings of pleasure to challenging tasks.
If you only ever focus on what’s ‘hard’, and then move straight on to the next tricky challenge, it’s really not that appealing is it, and you’re more likely to stop doing taking on new challenges after a while.
5. Have you given yourself the best possible chance to succeed with this?
When I told my husband what I was going to do, he said ‘Why don’t you just go in the pool?! That would be way easier’.
But I knew that would not be ‘way easier’ for me – I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t go and get my togs on and jump in a freezing cold pool – yikes!
But I would have a shower each day and so could easily incorporate into the cold water at the end. Maybe that will change in time (aka summer!!) but right now it’s the shower.
So stick to your guns and know what is best for YOU. Only you know what has the best chance of success, so do that.
I’ll keep you posted on further insights and benefits once I’ve been doing it longer.
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Kylie xTags: challenge Cold showers Small steps success mindset Wim Hof