How Can I build new habits?

By Angela Cox

August life lesson

Every month I host a goal setting workshop with my members in the Project Me Academy. I was starting to bore myself taking about my long-term goals so at the start of the year I decided to try a new approach.

One school of thought suggests intensity and frequency helps make habits stick so I decided to dedicate a month at a time to one goal and I treated it as a big experiment. No desired outcome, just a ‘see what happens’ type thing.


No heat on my hair for a month.

I have the unruliest hair which has been damaged through 20 years using bleach and heat.

Not using heat means a bird’s nest resides on my head. I decided to persevere and moved from frizz ball to beach waves within a few weeks. It’s been a game-changer. I now use heat once per week and my hair has improved immensely.


Read from a fiction book every night.

Having ADHD, I struggle to switch my brain off at night. I also struggle to read books unless it’s something I’m enjoying. I can read the same page over and over and it doesn’t go in. If I read something I am interested in I can become absorbed.

I decided to try reading as a way to calm my brain at night and it worked wonders. My sleep app showed sleep scores over 90. I read 11 books in a month and even joined the library. I have now continued this habit, reading a few times per week and aiming to finish at least one book each month.


Walk to and from work.

I love walking but I don’t like how long it takes. My office is just over a mile from home and it takes 20 minutes to walk there. Finding that time on top of everything else can be a challenge.

I decided to give it a go. I enjoyed incorporating a walk because it gave me time to think but I did feel pushed for time quite a lot and found myself a bit flustered. I haven’t kept this one going which is partly due to the time pressure and partly due to moving office in April. The new one is along a main road which I don’t enjoy as much as walking along the canal. This is a good lesson though as it shows an experiment doesn’t always have to result in continuation. I have the option to walk sometimes which feels good.


No Spend Month

I always love doing this as it helps me temper my impulsive nature. I am a sucker for purchasing anything Trinny wears on Friday Twinning, or the latest skincare products that Caroline Hirons talks about. Not spending anything means I save a chunk of money which I used to pay for a lovely evening away with Mr Cox. To help with no spend month I removed payment details from my apple pay so I couldn’t click and pay.


Cold shower every morning.

Inspired by Wim Hof’s TV programme I decided to embrace the cold shower. Being a person who feels the extremes of hot and cold more than those in my family, this wasn’t easy. I’m one of those who inches into the swimming pool while my husband dives in. I started with warm water and turned down the temperature for short periods, building up to 90-seconds over the month. I loved the feeling of being uncomfortable but in control. It’s a real resilience builder. This is a habit I have continued with, though some days I forget which is okay.


This was morning mindset work and exercise before 7am month. I am not the biggest fan of an early morning alarm and I love that I don’t start work till 09.30am. I did find it hard to stick to this one at first but soon realised I felt amazing post gym and that it was nice to have the training out of the way. I encouraged Mr Cox to do this one with me so I wasn’t leaving him in a nice warm bed. The trick was to leave the alarm clock on the other side of the room. I now do this routine 3 times per week.


Green Juice every morning

I love green juice and always feel better for having it. I find it’s one of those things I can get out of the habit of and I wanted to change that. It’s a faff to make it which discourages me so I found a company online that prepares juice. This convenient step made it easier to incorporate. The more we can remove the resistance blocks when it comes to habit forming, the more successful we become.

Through these experiments I have been able to celebrate success because the achievement is evident. It has been easy to build the habit and then sustain it or choose to let it go. Experiments can have multiple outcomes.

It is worth considering as a way to create intentional focus on the things you would like to achieve.

Next up for me, sea swimming. A biggie for me given I am not too fond of water.

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