From Challenge to Daily Habit: How a Simple Pledge Changed My Life

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Hey! I am Neyssa Lee, mother of six, planning & Disney obsessed, and a Seattle area photographer who has been in your shoes trying to grow a business. I now use my super power of time management to help fellow photographers take control of their businesses. Learn more by heading to my ABOUT ME page.

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Neyssa Lee with how to form a daily habit

When my friend challenged herself to a 20-minute Peloton workout every day last July, I was intrigued. Not one to back away from a challenge, I found myself inspired to join her. I had wanted to increase how consistently I was working out. Little did I know then, how this simple challenge would transform into a rewarding daily habit that would revolutionize my life.

Before the challenge, I had been working out, albeit irregularly. The idea of committing to something daily seemed daunting, but the small time commitment of just 20 minutes a day was a convincing argument. So, I took the plunge, and the rest, as they say, is history.

When July ended, I found myself reluctant to break this newly formed habit. Moving my body every day for at least 20 minutes had become an integral part of my routine. Plus I hate to “break the chain” as James Clear calls it in his book Atomic Habits*. It was no longer just about the physical workout, but also about the mental clarity and emotional stability it offered.

In the spirit of continuous improvement, I decided to up the ante and committed myself to the habit for a whole year. Yes, you heard it right – 365 days of at least 20 minutes of exercise. It wasn’t easy, but the sense of accomplishment was unmatched. The sweet triumph of completing a full year has now fueled my enthusiasm to work towards 30 minutes each day for the second year.

The magic, it seems, lies in consistency. Over time, I realized a few things that helped this challenge become a daily habit. Here are some lessons I learned that might inspire you to build your own transformative daily habit:

Small Changes, Big Impact for Your New Daily Habit

When it comes to adopting a new habit, setting realistic and achievable goals is crucial. The 20-minute commitment was small enough for me to fit into my schedule without overwhelming me. The idea is not to shock your system into a new routine but gently coax it to adapt and adopt. Remember, significant changes come from small changes made consistently over time.

I also did not put strict regulations on it that would cause me to fail. Instead, it was simply, at least 20 minutes of moving my body, tracked with the Peloton app. It could be a ride on the bike, a yoga class, a strength class, or a walk outside with the family.

Again, by keeping the goal something that pushed me, but not too far, it meant I was able to maintain it.

Neyssa Lee, Photography business coach standing against the sky

Accountability Matters When Forming a Daily Habit

Another important aspect of this journey was having an accountability partner. In my case, it is my husband. He decided to join the challenge, too, and has yet to miss a day.

It is easier to stay motivated when you share your journey with someone else. On days when my resolve waned, he was there, cheering me on, and I did the same for him. We celebrated our milestones together, and the shared joy of accomplishment strengthened our resolve further.

My kids, while they did not join in the challenge, they knew about it and held us accountable. They’d be cheering us on, asking us if we got our workout in each day.

Even if you don’t have someone who has the same daily habit goals, having an accountability parter is still helpful.

Celebrate Small Wins

One thing that kept me going was celebrating the small wins along the way. Every single day of completing my 20-minute workout was a win. These daily mini-celebrations boosted my morale and motivated me to continue this journey.

Flexibility is Key to Daily Habits

While consistency is essential in building habits, being flexible helps maintain them. Some days, I couldn’t fit in a workout during my usual morning slot, but I made sure to squeeze in 20 minutes of exercise later in the day. The goal was to maintain the habit, even if it meant straying from the routine.

Adopting this daily habit of exercising has transformed my life. It’s not just about staying physically fit but also about the mental and emotional benefits. The discipline, resilience, and commitment I’ve developed over this year are spilling over into other areas of my life (like my photography business).

The 20-minute challenge that began as an experiment has now morphed into a lifestyle. It’s a testament to how something that seems small and insignificant can wield immense power when consistently practiced.

So, if you’re sitting on the fence about starting a new habit, I encourage you to take that leap. Remember, it doesn’t have to be big or drastic; start small. You might be surprised at how these small changes can profoundly impact your life.

As I continue my journey with 30 minutes of daily exercise this year, I can’t wait to see how this habit further enhances my life. But until then, here’s to small changes, daily habits, and monumental transformations!

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