Make Your Habits Work FOR You

Everyone has habits. Some work for us. Some work against us.

Creating habits that improve our lives, our businesses, our communities, and the world around us is a worthy endeavor. Agree? Want some tips for changing your daily habits?

First and foremost, please recognize that we control our habits . . . not the other way around. 

For example, let’s say (fictitiously, of course) that I’m tired in the morning and have the habit of swinging by my local coffee place to grab an iced caramel macchiato. 

This delicious dose of caffeine and sugar may serve as my “reward” for going into work and, simultaneously, give me a perky disposition. 

By the time I arrive at my workplace, my mood is (at least temporarily) enhanced and I’m ready to start my day. 

This can be a hard habit to break because there may be more than one cue that is triggering this behavior and multiple rewards experienced! 

Is the indulgent coffee stop occurring because:

  • I’m tired and need caffeine and sugar to get me going?
  • I’m not ready to go to work and want to extend my commute time? 
  • I like chatting with people at the coffee shop and consider this a social stop as well as a coffee stop?
  • The special coffee – made just the way I want – makes me feel cared for and I need that some mornings?
  • All of the above? 

Hey, it’s complicated. 

But it is under my control. 

In order to feel more powerful and self-determined in the face of a compelling habit, I need to determine if it is working for me or against me. 

Let’s say, I’m actually ok with the expensive and sugary coffee habit as a treat, but think it has gotten out of control.

Once a week, I can “treat” myself, but going every DAY is insane. Of course, making this rational decision is not the same thing as actually taking action. 

How can I curb this strong habit? 

I need to create a new mindset – one that is consistent with my strengths – which helps me to create new habits that work for me and improve my world. 

  1. Mindset shift: I am not Maximizing my time, my money, or my nutrition with this bad habit. Excellence is my goal. This habit is wasteful. 
  2. Mindset shift: I am not Achieving as much as I could each morning by taking this long detour to stop for coffee. 
  3. Mindset shift: I’m high Competition. In the past, I  convinced myself that the coffee was giving me “an edge.” Moving forward, I must realize that this coffee habit is hurting my overall health and long-term wellness.

I need to create new (healthy and helpful) habits that ignite a new habit loop.

  1. New habit: I want to have habits that benefit others. I can harness my Significance strengths to shift my thinking about how this small change in my life can greatly impact another person’s life. What needy cause could benefit most from my “weekly coffee money?”
  2. New habit: I like to jump in, get things going, and get others on board with my Activator strengths. What if I got a few of my work friends to join me? We would raise a considerable amount of money if we pooled our money and created a “weekly coffee money” fund! Each week the biggest contributor to the fund could choose the non-profit who benefits! (This should also trigger my Competition strengths!)

Of course, the mindset shifts and new habits look different for each person depending on their strengths. What’s important is that these changes are consistent with way each person naturally thinks about things and creates more meaningful habits. 

Make sense?

Do you have a habit you love to hate? A guilty pleasure you’d like to break? Share!

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