To Change A Habit, Try Something Different

As a coach, I find the best service I can provide to my clients is to help them learn to see any situation – whether an opportunity or a challenge – from a variety of perspectives. When they learn to see it differently, they can try different things. This can amplify an opportunity or remove a block or a challenge, frequently resulting in a better outcome. The major reason is because it challenges a habit.

Most of the time, we look through the same lenses at the events, relationships and circumstances of life. We approach a challenge in the same way, frequently disappointed with our inability to solve it or to find a way around it.  We use what we know even though it doesn’t give us the result we really want. The same goes for opportunities. Sometimes, we approach an opportunity in the same way we always have, preventing us from truly taking advantage of all it can offer.

Why do we do this? Because habits are comfortable, and we rarely change what we’re comfortable with, even if it doesn’t give us the results we want.

Habits can help us, but they can also be the reason why we feel stuck, disappointed and unproductive. Consider these frequently unconscious habits:

  • When your kids get you upset, you raise your voice. It’s your habit, and I bet if you habitually raise your voice when you are challenged by your kids, you likely do it with your employees or colleagues, or even when someone cuts you off on the highway. After all, it’s a habit.
  • You avoid having a difficult conversation because you are non-confrontational. You don’t address what needs to be said or dealt with because of the discomfort of dealing with them, so you put up with an unproductive or unacceptable relationship with a spouse, friend, neighbor, manager or colleague. It’s a habit.

To start to undo an unproductive habit, do something different. At first it seems challenging. After all, we do the things that feel comfortable – even if they are unproductive. Tell yourself to try something new in handling the situation to see if it improves the outcome. In the process, you’ll start to see that you are more able, capable and talented than you initially thought.

You don’t know until you try.

So, consider what could change when you challenge your habit behaviors. What if you eliminate raising your voice for anything for a day or a week? No yelling at anyone for any reason. As you remember this, you force yourself to solve or deal with the situation in a new way. Many times, you will find you have other more successful abilities that help you create a better outcome.

What if you make a commitment to say what is on your mind, lovingly and with care, but you still commit to saying it in a situation with one person you normally avoid saying what you feel or think? Start by offering your perspective about something small or minor. Then notice how you did with it. How did you feel? Could you see that you have the ability to do this, and it was just habit to avoid it?

Take Action
Identify an unproductive habit you have. This week, whenever you would normally do this habit or behavior, do something different. Notice what outcome it creates, as well as what new abilities you notice in yourself.

You are more talented and amazing than you know. Ironically, it’s your habits can hold you back. Do things differently and you will start to see how much more talented and amazing you are. Start small, but start.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Here is Your Permission Slip

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To Do Something New, Make it Difficult to Do The Old

By Jay Forte

You say you want to change. You want to eat better. You want to be more fit. You want to read more. You want to get more sleep. You want to save more money. All are noble. And if they make life better for you, great. I hope you do them. But even when you say you want to make these changes, how committed to those changes are you really?

The reason so few of us actually stick with making those changes is simple: our habits stop us.

Our brains default to our habits. It takes a lot of energy to run our brains so the brain is always looking for ways to be efficient; doing things out of habit is efficient. However, this locks us into some behaviors that don’t align with what we say we want or need to live wisely, safely or intentionally. Knowing this, a way to interrupt an unproductive default habit is to make it difficult to do.

Take grocery shopping, for example. Each week, you buy a couple of bags of chips, possibly unaware you’re even putting them into the cart. Then, once home, you have a supply of chips easily accessible to you, making it hard to eat better.

Another example: working out. You say you want to work out before you go to work each day, but when the alarm goes off, you hit snooze several times. By the time you get out of bed, there is no time for a workout. And now you’re rushing to get to work on time.

So how can you make these default habits difficult to do?

If there are no chips or junk food in the house, it is more difficult to default to mindless eating. If the DVR no longer has hours of recorded shows for you to watch, you have time to do other activities, such as working out, reading or going to bed at a more reasonable hour. If you have money deposited directly from your check into your retirement or savings account, it is not available to spend.

Look through your life and identify the unproductive habits. As you find behaviors that take you away from where you want to be, assess what changes you need to make. Then, start by making what you currently do so difficult that it naturally forces you toward better and more successful behavior.

Important Questions from a Coach:

  1. What is one unproductive habit that you need or want to change?
  2. What could you do to make doing this behavior more difficult?
  3. What is the first step you will make today to shift to a new and more productive behavior?


Consider reading The Energy Funnel Explained: Level 5

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