Habits …


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 WE SPEND A LOT OF ENERGY AND DOLLARS ON HABITS …

I know this because of all the books you can find about habits, especially in relation to the process of change.  Authors such as Charles S. Duhigg have enjoyed commercial success by writing masterfully about the Power of Habits.  Robert Thompson, in Hooked On Customers, identified five habits of “Legendary Customer Service Companies”.   Of course, any discussion of habits must include acknowledgment of Stephen Covey and his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

If you really want a deep dive into Habitology, here is a list of 27 excellent books on this subject, including my personal favorite:  Changing for Good: A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward by James Prochaska, John Norcross, and Carlo DiClemente.  As a therapist, counselor,  and coach, this has been a primary source to help me understand the process of change and the role of habits in that process.

HABITS CAN BE GOOD OR BAD, AND ARE OFTEN BOTH AT THE SAME TIME.  

My coffee habit is an example of a bittersweet (literally) daily habit that both troubles me and comforts me.

The dual nature of habits is common.  Otherwise we would be talking only about getting rid of habits, and not replacing them.

Remember that “personal favorite” book?    In it, Prochaska and company create a clear focus as they describe the process of change – replace bad habits with good habits.

If your bad habit is two cases of beer every evening, replace that less than ideal habit with something more healthy, such as fruit juice or water. If you are abrupt in your communications with others, become more gentle.

Sounds simple enough, but anyone who has ever struggled with a deeply entrenched habit knows that the grip of our original negative habit is often very strong.  Understanding the nature of change and habits is critical, both for leading others and for leading yourself.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO REPLACE BAD HABITS WITH GOOD HABITS?  

A few thoughts, in no particular order …

VISUALIZE POSITIVE OUTCOMES …

if you can imagine a thing, actually doing or reaching that thing becomes more real and appears doable to our brains.  Athletes, musicians, and performers often use visualization as part of their practice routines.

ACKNOWLEDGE THE STRENGTH OF BAD HABITS …

At one time, people believed that overcoming habits was simply a matter of willpower.  If you were strong-willed, you would be able to change, and if not, you were weak.  Now we understand the strength of our habits more clearly.  Acknowledging their power over us actually strengthens our ability to change.  Self-Help groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, get this …

PLAN TO CHANGE …

 … or you plan to fail, as they say.  Not a big fan of this overused saying, but it does hold a truth.  WIthout intentional action to name and take specific and measurable steps to change, you will probably fail.  

Habits are strong … otherwise, we would call them affectations and discard them with ease when they proved troublesome.  As in business, time spent planning is essential and valuable time.

BE HOPEFUL …

Another overused, but ultimately truthful saying:  When you expect to fail, you will fail.  Change is a mental game and our own expectations will either help us courageous and push forward, or crumple into Dying Spider mode when the change becomes uncomfortable.

... and real change ALWAYS becomes uncomfortable.  That’s how you know it is happening.

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS ESSENTIAL TO CHANGE A BAD HABIT?

Except for my coffee, I am changing whether I feel like it or not in the Heartland …

John

Image:  Gratisography.com

 

 

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