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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The Waiting Game

When you find yourself waiting, what are you doing? Checking your phone? Tapping your foot? Pacing? Getting irritated?

What could you be doing instead?

I recently had a conversation with a friend who took her young daughter to the pediatrician. While in the waiting room, she handed her daughter a coloring book and some crayons. The receptionist said, “I think you’re the first parent I’ve seen in weeks not just hand a phone or tablet to their kid while they waited.”

Though we both celebrated the fact that we must be doing something right if others are noticing our actions, we also both admittedly became pretty judgmental: “what are these other parents even doing with their kids?” We listed out things that parents and kids could be doing together while waiting, like coloring, playing a game, telling a story, sharing a memory, inventing something or just talking about life, to name a few.

And that’s when it hit me. Though I may be good at inventing opportunities to keep my kids engaged, I’m the first to pull out my phone when I’m in a waiting room alone (pot, meet kettle). Whether it’s at a doctor’s office, waiting for my car getting serviced or something else, I’m quick to fill the void with something to distract me.

But choosing to zone out with my phone means I’m missing the opportunity to tune in to what’s going on around me. I could miss the opportunity to speak with the woman sitting next to me who has so much wisdom to share. I could miss the opportunity to learn about a deal or discount available if I opt in for a short, extra service while I’m already there with the car. I could miss the opportunity to share what I do as a life coach with someone who is looking for some guidance to figure out their next step in life.

Instead of thinking, “this is going to be such a waste of time,” consider asking yourself, “how can I use this opportunity to connect to those, and the world, around me?” Or even, “what am I not seeing that would be worth seeing?”

Take Action
Consider this quote from our Power Within email on September 23, 2019: Today, I will be humble enough to know I am not better than anyone else, and confident to know that I am just as good. We all have great value.

Instead of tuning out when you find yourself waiting, imagine what life could present to you if you choose to tune in. Try it. You never know who you could meet, what you may learn, or what opportunity awaits you. We all have great value if you use the waiting game as an opportunity to discover yourself and your world.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading The Post-It Note as a Mindfulness Tool

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The Way to a Great Life? Tune in, Reflect, Then Respond

By Jay Forte

Most of us move through life in a hurried and habit way. We rush through our days, rarely taking the time to actually stop and notice ourselves, how we feel and what is going on around us. We eat lunch and dinner without really even noticing or tasting our food. We have conversations during our days that we can’t even remember we had later the same day. We don’t really know what we like or are good at. The reason? We haven’t learned how to tune in, reflect and respond.

Your world is filled with information that is shared with you in each moment. This information has the ability, when used and reflected on, to improve your next moment, decision or response. This is the process of awareness and mindfulness – of tuning in, reflecting and responding in an intentional way to improve your outcomes.

Let’s use this thinking and look at your relationships, work and life.

Tune in, reflect and respond in your relationships. What if you actually looked at someone when you spoke to them, instead of also trying to multitask? (Newsflash: Multitasking is not a success attribute. Your brain can only process one thing at a time, so the more you try to do multiple things once, it actually shortchanges the impact of each thing you are trying to accomplish.) When connecting with someone, pay attention to them – what they are saying, feeling, thinking and saying. Then reflect on what they said, felt, thought or felt. Only by doing this can you have a more meaningful and intentional response.

Tune in, reflect and respond in your work. How much of your work day are you in habit mode, doing the same things? What if you tuned in and reflected on what you do, and asked yourself “what could be better here?” Make time to reflect on what, why and how you do what you do to determine if you can improve your performance and connection with customers or clients. The impact could be profound for you and for your workplace.

Tune in, reflect and respond in your life. How much time, effort and energy do you give to living a meaningful life that fits you, your abilities and your interests? What effort do you put in to learn what makes you different, unique and amazing? How often do you make time to reflect on where in today’s world are the opportunities that need what you do and like best? The more intentionally you approach the world – to go out and live it on your terms, not on the terms of the loud voices around you that are generally more interested in your compliance to their beliefs than to help you discover, develop and live yours – the more remarkable it can be. As poet Mary Oliver asks in her poem, The Summer Day, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

It’s a profound question.

What’s your answer?

Tune in to notice who you are and what is going on in your world. Reflect on the opportunities to connect the real you to the places in work and life that need what you do and like best. Respond using your greater clarity to live and work as it fits you, making a most amazing life and a better world in the process.

Take Action

Practice tuning out to tune in. Give yourself 5 or 10 minutes of quiet two times a day. Practice becoming aware. With awareness comes mindfulness, the ability to make informed decisions based on information about you and your world to make your next moment better.

 

Consider reading Tune Out to Tune In

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Moving in Autopilot

By Kristin Allaben, Executive Assistant & Strategic Communications Specialist

I remember the first time someone told me to “be aware.”

I was 16, sitting in my driver’s education class. My instructor played a short video, showing a driver’s view as they drove a car down several side streets and took a few turns before parking. My instructor shut off the short 15 or 20 second video and asked the class to identify the first road sign the driver passed.

I had no idea. I remember feeling stunned into awareness. I was watching the road but certainly wasn’t paying attention to the things within view of the drive, like the road signs.

This alarmed me to the things going on around me that I may be missing by moving through life in autopilot. If you are in autopilot, you will miss what’s happening around you – all the information and opportunities your world has to offer.

The next major awareness wake-up call happened for me the year after I graduated from college. Working full time and going to graduate school online at night, I had a routine. Get up, go to work, come home, go for a run, eat, go to class, go to bed. Repeat.

I vividly remember working on an assignment for one of my courses when I realized the content being taught went against what I was being taught on the job. Awareness. Enlightenment. My wake-up call. I had a moment of clarity that pointed to the fact that the program was not for me. I chose to leave the program and focus on my career instead.

If I had been moving in autopilot, focused on just getting the work done vs. being tuned in to the information I was reading, I may have missed this critical moment to decide if the degree was worth the investment (both time and money).

Moral of the story: catch yourself when you’re moving in autopilot, but don’t confuse it with routine. Routine can be healthy and help you stay focused. Though you are in routine, you are still aware and still making choices on purpose. But when you’re in autopilot, you tune out much of what’s happening around you. You do things out of habit and risk the chance of missing some of the greatest opportunities life can present to you.

Be mindful of what’s happening around you. Tune in to be aware of the opportunities that come out of every situation. Life has a funny way of surprising you. Get out of habit and autopilot. Get into being mindful, aware and ready for life’s opportunities.

 

Read Tune Out to Tune In

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