We see it all the time at our leadership training events in Denver; our participants are hard-working, intelligent, and they have a strong desire to improve. Yet, they struggle to get new habits to stick. They want to blame themselves. These teams come to us thinking if they worked harder or were more intelligent they’d fix the problem. But they are not the problem. The reason they struggle –the reason we all struggle with developing better habits– is because of the approach. We tackle a new habit thinking that we are the problem, but the problem is actually the thing we are trying to accomplish. We all ask, “How can I get this new habit to stick?” Implementing a new practice is a system and the devil is in the details. You are fully capable of becoming the person you want to be if you are willing to take a good hard look in the mirror. Here are some recommendations for getting new habits to stick:
Jumpstart the Process
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
– Mark Twain
Renowned author J.K Rowling has always prided herself on her ability to write anywhere, anytime. She told Oprah in 2010, “For years and years and years I would just go to a café and sit in a different kind of noise and work.” But when it came time to start on her most anticipated novel, the final book in the Harry Potter series, the noise hit her like a wall. All the pressure that swarmed around her during this process was overwhelming, so after trying and trying she decided to make a grand effort of commitment by ‘moving in’ to the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh where she stayed until she had completed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was not just the quiet that had helped her, it was the effort itself. She had proven to herself that she was willing to uproot her life if necessary to finish the novel. She jump-started the process.
This is one reason our leadership training events are so successful. Simply by showing up to the event in Denver, you are making 100% more progress than someone who doesn’t. You are demonstrating to yourself that you are willing to invest the time and effort in your own growth. All subsequent lessons are amplified by this show of commitment and your success rate is astronomically higher because of it. A jumpstart provides a well of motivation to draw on when things get tough. And trust me, things will get tough.
Add new habits to old habits
At the start of 2019, I set the goal of reading a book a week knowing full well that I had no time in my schedule to accommodate this. Conventional wisdom teaches us that we must get rid of an old habit to make room for a new one, so I planned to replace my nightly Netflix ritual with quiet reading. I did so not realizing I had just doubled the difficulty level of getting my new habit to stick. I still had to adjust to the discomfort of reading for hours and now I had to fight the urge to turn to Netflix, a routine that I was comfortable with and had come to rely on. I didn’t even view my television watching as a problem. I enjoyed it and didn’t want to get rid of it, yet I thought I had to. Safe to say the habit didn’t stick.
So I tried the opposite. Instead of looking at my schedule to get rid of something, I looked for places in which I could add reading. Although my schedule was packed I realized that I could listen to audiobooks on my morning runs and since I had already developed this habit into a pattern, the only thing I had to do was press play on my book when I started. My new habit had the power of benefitting from an old one and I was able to turn a supposed weakness (my current habits) into a strength.
Make It A Pattern
Josh Waitzkin is a world-class performer of many different disciplines. He was an eight-time National Chess Champion in his youth before moving on to martial arts where he holds several World Titles in Thai Chi Push Hands. Josh now spends his time teaching the world’s top performers how to perform at their peak, consistently. Here’s what Josh has to say about the importance of patterns:
“To have success in crunch time, you need to integrate certain healthy patterns into your day-to-day life so that they are completely natural to you when the pressure is on. The real power of incremental growth comes to bear when we truly are like water, steadily carving stone. We just keep on flowing when everything is on the line.”
This is part one of our three-part series on how to develop better habits. If you are interested in jumpstarting your growth into a better life, check out the leadership training events we host around Denver. Leadership training is great for anyone who wants to take on more responsibility at work or at home. It’s also a great way to show yourself and others that you are ready to make a change in your life. Click here to speak with a specialist today.