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I haven’t written a blog post for a while. You may have seen on my social media channels that I am planning to start a podcast soon so that, and working with my money coaching clients, has been keeping me busy. Lots of exciting things going on in The Money Whisperer world but I wanted to jump in and reconnect on the blog here.
Today I am focusing on something a bit different to my usual content as we are halfway through January and those new year’s resolutions are failing by the wayside. Yes, this week’s blog post is motivated by my own failure on this front… It’s not money related but my learnings are relevant to anyone looking to make changes in their life. Including money ones! So do read through to the end to hear how I relate my learnings to making changes to your finances.
It all started with a conversation around the family dinner table with my husband’s family before Christmas. I was brought up in a family where we always had home cooked food which consisted predominantly of meat and two veg. I’ve always had a really varied diet; I love all foods and we are lucky to not have any allergies so we eat all sorts of meals.
But for me, a meal isn’t really a meal unless there is meat or fish on the plate. Shock horror?
How easy would it be to change that? To cut back on meat and fish? Well while asking myself these questions, I knew it would be pretty hard to do it on my own, especially as my husband was very against any sort of change to our meals so I’d be going at it alone!
We watched The Game Changers documentary and honestly, I was amazed. If you haven’t seen it, watch it; it will change the way you think about strong men! We have got really into our fitness over the past year and it got me wondering if a diet change would have any impact on my strength and endurance.
Going vegan for a month is on my list of #40thingstodobefore40 and as I don’t have any more Veganuarys before that big milestone, I decided 2020 was the year!
So on the spur of the moment at the end of December, I committed to going vegan for January and made it official by telling the world on Instagram! (You can check out my Instagram here)
View this post on Instagram
This morning I didn’t have any pound coins in my wallet for the girls to take in to school for the @bbccin appeal. No problem mum, said the 8 year old “we’ve got coins in our money boxes. Actually, I really want to give some of my own money this year. Other children need it more than we do”. #myworkisdone 💕
Luckily for me, January is also Veganuary – a month of support where people are inspired and supported to try vegan for January – and beyond. So I signed up.
If you’re going to make a radical change to something in your life – and giving up meat, fish, all dairy and eggs is pretty extreme for a die hard ‘meat and two vegger’ like me – you need a support system. The Veganuary movement is great because there is a Facebook group with other newbies and longer term vegans in there all offering support, meal ideas and suggestions for alternatives. You also get regular emails with loads of useful information, recipes and guidance.
You have probably seen all the vegan convenience foods being promoted this month in all the supermarkets. If you’re going to do it, the fact that there is so much hype around veganism this month means it is really easy to find plenty to eat and ease yourself in. The fake meats weren’t ever going to appeal to me though! Nuts, pulses, fruit and veg all the way thanks.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was really motivated to do this and enjoyed trying new recipes. My mum bought me the MOB Veggie recipe book (which has some great vegan recipes also) and my sister-in-law sent me the BOSH! cookbook. Both have amazing ideas which look and taste delicious. I enjoyed reconnecting with my kitchen, cooking new things and getting out of that food rut – you know, when you end up cooking the same things over and over because everyone eats them and they are easy.
But we’re now at the 17th of January – officially tagged Quitter’s Day as so many have quit their New Years resolutions by now – and I’ve not managed to stick with it.
Am I disappointed that I couldn’t manage the month? A little bit but not hugely. There are lots of learnings that have come out of having done it and which are applicable to anything in life, including make changes to how you approach your finances. So this is why I wanted to tell my story and share the positives of my failure.
Because failure is never failure, it’s only ever learning.
It’s really hard to make a big change in life without the support of those around you
Without those around you being 100% behind you on your journey towards changing your habits, it is hard! There’s no blame here, but the three other people in this house didn’t want to participate – fair enough – and made it known that they thought my meals were ‘yucky’! They weren’t 🙂
I had a client recently who has done amazingly well with changing her money habits, but she faced some very real battles initially from those around her who should have been her biggest cheerleaders. When she first signed up for coaching with me, she told me her husband had said to her that he couldn’t believe the irony in paying someone money to help her with a spending problem. Not hugely helpful!
As a life-long spender, her friends weren’t encouraging of her new motivations either when she told them. When someone is really committed to making a change to their lives, a harmless but negative comment can make you doubt yourself and cause those feelings of ‘am I really good enough to do this’ to creep in. And fester….
So if you are wanting to make changes of any sort in your life, bring others on the journey with you. Make sure they understand how important it is to you. Ask them to be encouraging!
And if it’s you on the other side of the fence, if someone says they are doing something differently because they want to be a better version of themselves, cheerlead! Don’t mock. Don’t be disparaging. Build them up.
We need to see more of this in this world.
A support network is great but ultimately, success relies on you and only you
The support of the Veganuary movement and the people who are already committed vegans was really good. When people accidentally ate something which wasn’t vegan, they just encouraged the mistake maker to learn and move on! (Who knew there was milk in some crisps and that not all wine is vegan??) Ultimately however, your success is down to you and no one else.
When I speak with potential new clients on a discovery call, I reiterate that a coach is going to be your biggest cheerleader when it comes to making the changes that you want for yourself, providing guidance, encouragement and accountability.
But they don’t do the work for you.
Your success is only ever down to the choices that you make to move forward with new beliefs, habits and actions.
Your Big ‘Why’
You also need to be 100% aligned with your end goal and the big ‘why’ when it comes to why you are making the changes.
For me, watching The Game Changers made me interested in veganism but if I am truly honest, I didn’t have a strong enough why.
Don’t hate on me but I am not passionate enough about either the environmental reasons or the animal cruelty reasons for veganism. I know these are what drive most die hard vegans and without that spurring me on, it was too easy to give in to my need for eggs in the morning. (I wonder how many haters this paragraph will drive out?)
You need to be prepared before you dive in
I decided to do this on a bit of a whim. I hadn’t prepped my cupboards well and done enough meal planning. My first big shop of Veganuary took me ages and I bought healthy nuts and lots of fruit and veg to munch on. But I did find times especially when I was out and about when, because I hadn’t really done enough preparation, there wasn’t a whole lot of choice beyond a piece of fruit to keep me going.
I annoyed myself with my lack of planning.
Relating this back to changes around your finances, understanding what you need to help you on your journey of change is crucial, and that necessitates some planning up front. Looking ahead to where you might fall down when things get hard is exactly what I help people to do; I’ve seen and heard all the reasons why people struggle. When you know ahead of time, you can do something to stop those challenges turning in to something which makes you quit altogether.
Same goal, different approach
Surprisingly, I found cutting out meat relatively easy. Cheese too. Both things I thought I would end up craving! It was eggs that was the really hard thing not to have in my diet. I eat eggs most mornings, and if not for breakfast, I will have an omelette at lunchtime. These were my downfall…
So it’s half way through Veganuary and I am back to being an omnivore.
But, if I go back to the questions which I asked myself before I started this journey, and see if I have moved forward, the answer is YES!
How easy would it be to cut out meat and fish? Surprisingly easy which is a big revelation for me! I’ve got recipe books and Insta feeds full of amazing tasting dishes which don’t contain meat and fish. Rather than eating meat or fish every day, I’ve committed to having 3 days a week without. That’s a big change to one month ago and a positive step forward. It’s also something we can do as a family which means I am bringing everyone along on the journey…
What additional changes can we make on our ongoing health and fitness journey? Well, I’m all about balance. Alongside our healthy eating and reduction in meat, I have committed to increase my HIIT training to 4 times a week from the 3 that I have been doing. Alongside yoga which I love, my body is the healthiest it has ever been. For me, a good balance of thoughtful nutrition and plenty of exercise is what works for me.
So all in all, lots of learning from the experience. I can still have the same end goal around a healthier lifestyle (it was never turning vegan in itself) but approach it in a different ways. Small steps taken consistently towards meaningful changes.