For those of you out there who have been to one of our workshops lately, you will notice that we focus quite a bit on the idea of making and breaking habits. One funny thing about “breaking” habits is that it is actually a bit of a misnomer. Once the brain has habituated something, the neural pathway exists in your brain for the remainder of your days. So, really, there is no breaking of a habit but only the start of a new one.
We all have things in our head that we want to do for the first time. We want to start really getting healthy for the first time or commit to reading a book a month or start making more sales calls. We have clients right now that want to start a marketing database or desire starting to get 8 hours of sleep a night, deepen certain relationships, or maybe even go skydiving for the first time. Logically, we know that we should begin some of these things, and there is even a part of us that desires to start some of these things but yet, simply put, we don’t.
Today was not an easy day. Good things happened today, but it was not easy. Here’s the story:
A few months ago, we published an article about not quitting something that you start. This article detailed one man’s amazing quest to finish an Iron Man race that he started even though the odds were thoroughly stacked against him. As we learn about how others persevere through challenges, we can gain insight into ourselves and how we may develop similar perseverance. From the feedback we received on this article, we gleaned that the idea of “not quitting” resonated with many of you.
My daughter, Julia, is working on changing some of her homework habits and last night she asks me “Daddy, it takes 21 days to create a new habit, right?” I spared Julia the half-day workshop that we do for business people on changing and creating success habits. Instead we chatted about 6 of the basic items that successful people carry along their journey to changing habits and achieving great things (even ones that may have seemed impossible at one time). Here are those items:
What a year it has been!
Make more money, have more peace and get almost anything you want with this one uncomplicated action:
The pull to repeat old patterns in our businesses and lives is as pervasive as gravity. Starting something new is so very difficult. Part of the reason for this difficulty is that to start something new is also to lose something old and we simply don’t want to let go of the old ways. And this is understandable -- up to a point. We talk about this often in our workshops and keynote addresses: there's a certain amount of familiarity and habituation that is desirable and serves your work well. Just think if you had to start from scratch every time you wrote an email. The internal dialogue might go something like:
The sweet, delicious corn that our family has been able to enjoy during our Summer dinners this year has been nothing short of spectacular. Just seeing the hot, steaming corn dripping with butter next to a mountain of hard shell crabs or beside some perfectly steamed green vegetables makes my mouth water. As I tell my wife Amy how great the corn is, I'm reminded of the hard work that went into making that corn on my plate a reality. It was work that started months ago with the tilling of the soil in the fields, planting the seed corn, watering, weeding, watching, etc.
The pull in our businesses and lives to repeat old patterns is as pervasive as gravity. Starting something new is so very difficult. Part of the reason for this difficulty is that to start something new is also to lose something old and we simply don’t want to let go of the ways of old.
When it comes to getting somewhere that we want to go in our work or in our life, very often we need to stop something that we are currently doing. And the things that we are currently doing are sometimes the patterns of our life. These patterns can include our habits, our relationships, and for sure include our thoughts and state of mind.
I have a client (we’ll call "Danny") who recently set a specific day to stop smoking. Danny has been smoking for 23 years and made the decision the other day that enough is enough. He has told his family and friends the date that he will be quitting, got himself all the necessary gums, and has a plan of what to do with the extra time and money that would have otherwise been spent on smoking. He is working with Rewire and a "quit smoking coach" from his company-sponsored health insurance plan to help him along this path. In other words, he has done all the things one is supposed to do when one wants to quit smoking.
Most of us will easily relate to the challenges associated with changing a habit. You try to drop the soda or give up the smokes and just the thought of it sends you into a full-on panic attack. That my friends; is a well-worn habit.
I’ve got this client we’ll call "Jim." Jim is a self-described HUGE fan of the band Phish. In fact, he is such a huge fan that he has gone to at least one Phish concert per year since 1996! And when you've done something once a year for multiple decades, I think it's safe to say that’s a habit. Jim has created neural pathways in his brain that essentially make him call for tickets every time he hears that Phish is coming to town. Until the other day...