As a business consultant, one of the most common challenges I face is clients who are stuck in old unproductive (or even destructive) habits. Frequently, these are issues that must be addressed first before progress can be made in helping leaders grow their businesses to the next level.
I have found the 10 most common habits that keep people stuck are:
1. Attempting to do too much, pushing too hard
2. Perfectionism: Never feeling anything is good enough
3. Procrastination: Lack of accountability and commitment
4. Heroism: Focusing all energy on other people and problems
5. Denial: Ignoring problems and pretending they are not happening
6. Excessive need for control
7. Caretaking and people-pleasing
8. Disorganization: Lack of planning and avoidance of making decisions
9. Pessimism: Negative/distorted thinking. Lack of enthusiasm and direction
10. Avoiding conflict at all costs
Here are six steps I use to help people deal with these habits:
1. Identify the one habit that is undermining your goals, self image and/or relationships. It is important to believe you can change if you don’t like the results you are getting. It starts with recognizing that you adopted this habitual behavior based on some belief you had at the time. You can choose to change the behavior once you accept that it no longer serves the original purpose. Everything you want to achieve now is outside of your comfort zone, so be prepared to feel uncomfortable about changing how you act.
2. Visualize the future without this habit. How would your life be if this behavior changed? How would you behave instead of what you have been doing? It is important to take the time to create a well-developed image of what would be different for you.
3. Whenever you feel stuck ask yourself these questions:
• How does that work, when I…? What’s the process I follow?
• How is this behavior helping me achieve my goals?
• What happens when I get triggered to repeat the same self-destructive behavior?
• What was I thinking and feeling just before I get a bad habit urge?
4. Take 100% responsibility for what you are saying to yourself. All action is born in thought.
5. Change what you focus on. Start filling your mind with positive, empowering and life enhancing thoughts. Erase the negative self talk cluttering up your mind.
6. Ask for and accept help from your support system. Who in your life will offer genuine support? Who will help you monitor and change the behavior patterns that block you from getting ahead?
7. Set small, reasonable goals and reward yourself for each achievement.
The Bottom Line
The sum of these steps are:
• Your positive, empowering thoughts will become your words.
• Your words will become your deeds.
• Your deeds will become your new more positive habits.
• Your new habits will become your successful life.
Dealing with old, well-set-in habits is difficult work and may be painful to change, but it is a small price to pay for making positive advances toward the person you would like to become and the life you want to lead.