Busting Through Unwanted Habits

Many of us have a strong desire to make positive change in our lives.  This change may take on the look of wanting to change our diet, clutter, careers, finances and even our relationships. 

We most often know in pretty exact terms what life would look like if we were able walk and live in this new light.   “If I can lose 10 lbs or exercise 3X per week or move from screaming daily at my son about his dirty bathroom.  If I could save $200/week or if I can shift to a new role in 12 months or if I can complete my degree?”

Why then is it so difficult to make a shift when our goals are clear?   

While it is difficult and complex to know all of the reasons, a large portion of the answer resides in the slow motion of our habits.  It is often in the root of our day to day tasks and activities.  

I’m a recovering shoes and clothes shop a holic.   It’s been one year now since I’ve made the shift from shopping for the XXXth pair of shoes to living with less volume.   It’s been a remarkable shift for me.  The change didn’t occur however until I took a deep dive and analyzed my habits and actions in really, really slooooow motion.  The intervention that shifted me closer to my goal was stopping me at the trigger point that initiated the urge for me to make a purchase.

Perhaps you can choose 1 habit this week that you’d like to shift to get you closer to your goals.  Try these steps and share your results with someone in 4 weeks and every 4 weeks after that until you have this new habit down for 90 days.  I’d love to hear your successes and failures.  And oh by the way, I am now working on personal change #2 – how to rid of mounds of paperwork.   My approach to this shift will be the same. Treat the challenge at its root,  be honest with myself about what I’m giving up by not making this shift and get moving toward the desired change.

 Step 1:  Acknowledge the habit you wish to shift and be clear and honest with yourself about why.  What’s bringing this to your attention right now?

Step 2:  Write down the cost to you if you do not shift away from this habit.  Answer this question. What’s the impact to me now if I do not change anything about this habit?

Step 3:  Visualize what success would look like and how you would know you are being successful?  I always like to celebrate wins too.  Be sure to include recognition goals for yourself as well.

Step 4:  Enlist the help of an expert, coach or consultant.  For ex, in my case, I utilized a closet organizer. We made some key agreements on the # of shoes I’d commit to only having, # of black pants, etc. etc.   This was a huge learning for me. Sometimes you just can’t go at these things alone.  You may want a personal coach or trainer as an example for expertise and added accountability.  

Step 5: Slow down and really think about what is triggering you to sustain this habit?  It will be easier to keep doing the same old same.  Begin journaling your thoughts in the moment.  For ex.  Every time I get the urge to buy another pair of shoes, I stop myself, review my goals of being clutter free.  Before buying something new, I am now automatically thinking through the item to throw out.  I operate under buy 1 item, throw 1 out.   You’ll be amazed at what you learn about yourself from this process.

 So, give it a try and keep in mind that one key to breaking an unwanted habit is to become closely connected to your thinking.  Increase your ability to focus in slow motion and with a big microscope at the habit’s point of origin.  This will aid you greatly in busting through an unwanted habit.

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