Last week we took Key Steps To Identify ‘Bad’ Habits. What did you notice? What habit are you going to be replacing this week? You might be surprised to notice how much you have already done just by bringing it into conscious awareness. Awareness is the gateway to self-management and the foundation of emotional intelligence. So, let’s keep going and complete the remaining Key Steps and really…
‘be the difference that makes the difference.’
- Identify the price of maintaining the status quo. What is not changing costing you? Maybe drinking too much coffee gives you heartburn or keeps you up at night. Maybe excessively long work hours keep you from your family. Maybe multitasking drains your energy and is actually counterproductive (that’s what the research shows). Procrastinating stops you from achieving your goals. Taking on too much leads to dropping balls and disempowers those around you. Committing to do something and then not following through erodes people’s trust in you. Giving your clients more attention than your loved ones make them feel unappreciated. You get the idea?
- Be honest about the price of making the change. What will making the change cost you? Going to bed before 10pm every night might mean skipping some Netflix series or tapping back on work. Saying NO might cost you the feeling of being needed and indispensable. Or – in my case – it costs me peace and quiet, but I know having firm boundaries with Mila and managing through some tantrums is the best thing for her in the long run. It’s just not the easiest or most peaceful option in the short run. Exercising might cost you an extra hour of sleep in the morning. Stopping analysis paralysis will require effort and energy. Once you’ve identified the price of making the change (and there usually is one), then it is important that you…
- Make sure that the perceived benefits are worth it for you. For example: Stop smoking = better health. Say I love you more often = healthier and happy relationship. Delegate work = empowered team. Stop analysis paralysis = better decision-making. Follow through on promises = deeper trust. Have more meaningful conversations = improved relationships, commitment and results. When examining certain behaviour, some examples have cut and dry benefits. But some don’t. For example, I take an Omega supplement despite feeling no real benefit by taking it. I take it because sound data shows the long-term benefits, and many credible experts advise it as a good way to protect my brain. In other words, I’ve weighed up the costs vs. benefits and made a decision to form a habit that I believe is good for me. And it is low cost with likely very high benefits. Stopping smoking was the same for me; I didn’t feel any immediate benefits. In fact, I initially felt worse but knew it was worth it, so I made a decision not to smoke anymore. Was it hard to stop? Yes! Am I still a non-smoker 14 years later? Thankfully, yes! This was a high cost but a very high benefit too – to my health and my pocket. If changing is a high cost and you perceive the benefit to be low, you won’t sustain the change. So, weigh it up, and if you can really see the value (remember it might be indirect) then…
- Make a conscious decision to do change (and then just do it). This requires a deep commitment and choice until the new habit is as well ingrained as the old one was. The truth is that this seldom takes 21 days but more like 60 to 90 days. The good news is that by early next year, your new habit will be well on its way to being permanent. Here’s some ideas to assist you:a. Break the new habit down into manageable chunks. This is especially important if you are feeling overwhelmed. For example, to eat healthy every week, all I have to do is follow my grocery list and meal prep on a Sunday. Then the habit of eating healthy is very easy, despite my hectic schedule.
b. Create a reminder to assist in reinforcing the new habit. For example, you could set an alarm to remind you to stretch, stop working at a particular time, drink a glass of water every hour and so on. I ensure that all my priorities are in my diary, or I know they might not happen in my busy schedule. In other words, schedule your priorities and don’t rely solely on your memory, especially at first, as your old habits are so hardwired. You need to deliberately and consistently interrupt the old pattern.
c. Don’t just try to stop something but rather replace your destructive habits with something good for you. Because Because life is conducive to repetition, the same behaviour that created your old habit might help you replace it. For example, put a 2 litre of water where your kettle is and then when you make coffee (or instead of coffee), drink a large glass of water. Don’t buy sugary snacks but replace them with healthier ones instead – I find online shopping make this easier to do and I am not standing in a queue next to loads of sweets. Swap refined carbs for low GI ones or sugar for suitable alternatives. I have such a sweet tooth; there is no way I could stop eating sweet things but I have had to find suitable replacements for whole slabs of chocolate! 😊
Just start one day – maybe one hour – at a time and champion the change because living your best life is worth it. Being true your highest purpose and deepest potential is worth it. Because you are worth it. And if you are struggling or falter, know that you are normal – very normal. When making certain life changes, we all need help at times. Me too. There have been many changes, like being hard on myself, that took work with a professional coach to really shift. Getting a coach, whether it is a gym coach, dietician, life coach and/or business coach, isn’t a sign of weakness or failure but a sign of wisdom. It’s the clever thing to do. Having an accountability partner and someone to support you through the transition can accelerate change and/or ensure sustainable change so you can keep taking the Key Steps needed to…
‘be the difference that makes the difference.’
NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free weekly ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.
About Dr Sharon King Gabrielides
Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 20 years’ experience in leadership and organisational development and transformation. She is a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner. She is also one of only three women in South Africa to hold the title of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – it’s the Oscar of the speaking business.
Sharon’s PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that has been published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of Henley Business School and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. Sharon has become known for her practical approach, useful tools and genuinely caring manner. She is really looking forward to working with you and taking Key Steps to ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’