Fight habits with habits by opening upWritten by Tom Richard | | email@example.com
The night before my dentist appointment is often spent flossing, brushing vigorously and gargling aggressively. It seems silly to spend so much time cleaning my teeth before I go to have my teeth cleaned, but you probably do the same thing.
As we spend this extra time cleaning, we remember how we promised the dentist we would floss regularly, brush three times per day and not wait so long between cleanings (and we meant every word of it).
In fact, we probably did floss more right after the appointment, but then at some point we fell right back into our old habits. Then, a year later, we once again find ourselves staring at a cheap poster on the ceiling while the dental hygienist works on our mouth like it was some kind of science experiment.
After the appointment, we will once again vow to perform all the hygienic sundries that the dentist recommends. However, no matter how badly we wish to change our habits, we fall right back into our old patterns.
Old habits die hard, but they can be killed if we fight fire with fire. Yes, we need to use our bad habits to break our bad habits. In order to use our bad habits, we need to start by identifying what we know about them.
Whether we’re talking about flossing our teeth, keeping our office organized, or spending more time preparing for our client presentations, we know sheer willpower alone will not create new behavior. We know this from experience.
If you know you cannot simply use willpower to change your habits, then ask yourself what situations bring out the behaviors and actions you want? Are these the behaviors and actions you wish were your normal habits?
Perhaps you wish you spent more time preparing for a sales presentation, but you always seem to wait until the last minute. Do you prepare more when you know that your boss is going to be listening to your presentation? Do you put more effort into your work when you know your colleagues are counting on your performance?
If so, then you know how to bring out your best behavior, even if you need to put yourself into a seemingly undesirable situation.
Having your boss around for a presentation in order to bring out your best work is no different than me flossing the night before I have a dentist appointment. I floss because I know I will have strangers staring in my mouth and evaluating my dental hygiene.
Habits are nothing more than patterns. If a stream flows through a field for 50 years, the water slowly carves itself a channel, changes the landscape and wears down even the toughest terrain. Your habits are formed the same way, they are deeply rooted, and no matter how badly you want to change them, you cannot just wiggle your nose, blink your eyes, and expect them to change magically.
To change your habits, you need repetition, repetition, and more repetition. If you want to floss more, and you know you floss more the night before a dentist appointment, then schedule more dentist appointments. It may seem silly, but you’re creating a situation where you are flossing more; you’re creating the repetition needed to create a new pattern.
Eventually, you’ll be flossing out of habit alone and not because you have an appointment the next day.
If you want to spend more time preparing for your appointments, and you know you prepare more when your boss or colleagues are present, then invite them to as many appointments as possible.
Tell them you are trying to create better habits and that their presence helps bring out your best work. They’ll support you.
It may seem embarrassing, but your ego is a small price to pay for being able to create new habits. Repeated actions, when repeated often enough, become habits. Do whatever you need to do to yourself to bring out your best actions and they will become your best habits.
For more examples of fighting habits with habits, visit the Web site www.boltfromtheblue.com and enter the word FLOSS in the blueprint box.
Tom Richard is a Toledo-based sales trainer, gives seminars, runs sales meetings and provides coaching for salespeople. Visit www.boltfromtheblue.com, call (419) 441-1005 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.