Know that if you do as you always have, you will get what you have always had. There is nothing wrong with this, unless you think there is.
What do you want?
How many times do we express frustration in our lives about “something” (you fill in the blank here) that will not change? It could be something physical that we are not satisfied with, a relationship that is not working, a job we hate, a child who will not listen, not being able to save for that vacation etc. etc. We complain up and down to anyone who will listen and continue to get more and more frustrated. Doesn’t sound like fun to me. Nor does it sound productive. When you truly want to have different, guess what? You are going to have to “do” different. This is work, which is why most of us would rather complain then get our butts in gear and do something about it.
Want to play a little here? How about you look at this as an opportunity to get curious? What habit(s) do you have that are getting in the way of changing what you have, to what you want? Keep in mind that not all habits are necessarily “bad” and even if they are deemed “bad” – think smoking, there is still something you are getting out of it – think deep breathing.
Habits, by nature, seem to lock us into a behaviour. It is so much easier to keep doing what our brain has “programmed” then to try and shift it. Our brains think in patterns based on previous experience: “if A happens then I do B” – when something similar happens, our brain looks for something similar in our past and attaches a pattern that has worked before to it. In other words, our brain can be a little lazy or you could say, it likes to be efficient, why exert extra energy when something has worked in the past? Habits tend to get results without getting the brain involved.
Here’s a little exercise to get those juices flowing and to maybe replace a habit that is getting in your way with one that may serve you better.
Grab two pieces of paper or a recipe card, whatever, something you can write on.
In the center of the first piece of paper, in block letters, write down one habit that you would like to change.
- Proceed to write as many words that describe the good you get from that habit – yep – you’re getting something out of it. For example – let’s say your habit is “procrastination” (okay, truthfully, it’s my habit!)– What might you be getting out of it? When I did this exercise here’s some of what I came up with: procrastination provided me with a “time out”; it helped to prevent me from rushing into things; sometimes, if I procrastinated long enough, someone else would do what I was avoiding!
Put the piece of paper aside and take out your new, clean piece of paper.
In the center of this piece of paper, in block letters, write down what you would like to replace this habit with. Yes, instead of focusing on what you are giving up, focus on something else you want instead.
- Now write down this new habit or behaviour and all that it can offer you. To continue with my own personal exercise, I wrote down “focus”. Here are some of the words that came to mind for me: purpose, results, success, direction. How cool is this?
The exercise does not end there. Once you have identified what you want instead, think about – what do I need to do to make this stick? Who do I know that already exhibits this behaviour or habit that I can emulate? Where can I find support for this change – could be a coach, a friend, some sort of accountability partner. How can I be patient and compassionate with myself and the change as I move through it? Know that you may take a couple steps back every now and then. Awareness and willingness to see the good in what the change is may help to keep you focused on the end result you are looking for.
What’s my point?
- Habits are powerful. Identifying what’s getting in your way is a start; replacing it with something else instead may be useful for refocusing your brain.
- Nothing is going to change unless you change something.
- A partner to support you through the change can be the difference between successfully changing and reverting back to old habits.
So – want different?