Breaking Bad (Habits) to Step Into Your Greatness

If you were a fan of TV’s Breaking Bad you probably remember how painstaking it was to watch Walter White
continue his lucrative bad habit of making drugs even when he had tons of money and it brought him and his family tremendous grief. 

In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg, points out habits aren’t all bad.  In fact, habits are neutral.  A habit is a routine that helps us simplify our life.   It can lead us to results we want, or don’t want.  In my opinion, a habit is “bad” when  you’ve had enough already, you’re feeling stuck and you desperately want a different result (kinda like Walter White).  A “bad” habit can be hard to see because we do them over and over again unconsciously, like constantly complaining about your job to a spouse, friend or coworker so much it ruins your relationship.  A habit can be obvious, like eating more than you really need or want, or smoking, or it can be a behavior you don’t want to admit like procrastinating when you know you should be looking for a new job.

Habits aren’t always easy to change.  A recent study found even the threat of death didn’t motivate some heart patients who were told they’d die if they didn’t change their habits.  The study found only one in seven will successfully follow through and make the necessary changes.  (Immunity to Change, by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey)  For most of us habits get changed when we’ve hit rock bottom and we feel we have no choice but to do something different.

Why wait until you’re in dire straights to change a habit when you can choose to do it and have a better life?

Its a new year and the perfect time to take the steps to put some positive habits in place.  Here are 5 tips for breaking habits that hold you back and putting some new, positive ones in place to move you forward:

First, decide you’re going to make a change and make it your intention to do so.  An intention is a powerful statement that includes thinking about the purpose for the change as well as the results you want to achieve.  A statement of your intention may go something like this:  “I intend to get a new job (eat healthy, lose weight, start exercising, make more money, etc.) so I have more joy, fulfillment and freedom in my life.”

Second, identify the habit you want to change.  A habit doesn’t have to be as dramatic as Walter White’s.  It can be anything that is stopping you from achieving what you want in your life.  For example, you may choose to break the habit of complaining about your job to your spouse and get busy on an active job search or change your attitude about your job.  Or, it may be your intention to put a good habit in place, like exercising instead of sitting on the couch after work.

Third, once you’re clear on the habit you want to change, figure out how you’re being rewarded by it.  Charles Duhigg uses the example of wanting to stop a cookie habit.  He was going to get a cookie each afternoon and in the process ran into fellow journalists and spent time talking with them.   During his exploration into how his cookie habit rewarded him found out it was visiting with colleagues that was the reward.  In his book he says to change a habit, “you must keep the old cue (going for the cookie every afternoon) and deliver the old reward (satisfaction from meeting with friends), but insert a new behavior or routine.

Fourth, release any fears, doubts, limiting beliefs, patterns, attitudes, etc. that can keep you stuck. We’re often unaware of the fears, beliefs, attitudes that we hold.  For example, if you want a relationship in your life you may decide to change your habit of sitting home alone on Friday night and start going out to meet someone instead.  Even though you changed your habit, if you have a fear of being in relationship, you may not be successful in getting one.  Identifying hidden or underlying beliefs that can hinder your progress is another important step in successfully changing a habit. It isn’t always easy to identify our own often unconscious beliefs.  A good coach, friend or therapist can help you identify them and release them, which will clear the way for putting new habits in place.

Fifth, practice the art if kaizen, which is making incremental changes by taking one small step at time.  Habits develop over time and we can be in such a habit of expecting immediate results we can sabotage our own success.  Don’t take too big of a leap all at once or give up when the results don’t come quickly.   One small consistent step at a time leads to greatness.

Changing habits can take some attention, will power and a desire for a different result, but if you put forth the effort, you are rewarded with more of what you want in your life.

To learn more about shifting habits and stepping into your greatness in your career or life, contact Linda for information about her Dream Accelerator Package – 90 Days to Positive Results.  A program helps you identify the positive changes you want to make this year, release what keeps you stuck and gets you moving forward for positive results.