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Breaking Bad Habits – 3 simple steps

Wednesday 13th December 2023 - GMT

Your habits drive your behaviour.

We all know it.

But do you realise just how powerful habits are?

They are the most powerful driver of behaviour there is.

More powerful than emotion.

More powerful than logic.

More powerful than … anything.

For example, we all know people who want to give up things – lose weight, stop smoking, stop drinking, work less hard, etc. But – despite their best efforts – after a few ‘good’ days, they slip back to old habits.

And at work, it’s the same:

  • Weekly team meetings that everyone hates … we’ll have another one next week!
  • Last week’s proposal that didn’t win the sale … we’ll just use the same proposal template for our next sale. Even though it lost last time!
  • At the end of last week, we were so devastated by our endless back-to-back meetings, we vowed “never again!” … only to have another week of back-to-backs this week

My favourite inspirational quote relates to this. It’s from the author, Octavia Butler. When asked how she was so prolific, she replied …

“First, forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. It will sustain you whether you are inspired or not.”

Now, I realise that most people don’t have this as their #1 inspirational quote. Especially since it starts “First, forget inspiration”!

But her point is bang on – get in good habits, and you automatically do the right thing.

So how can we improve our all-important habits?  Well, it can be pretty complex. But, however you do it, there are three critical steps – PRIORITISE, DIARISE, SOCIALISE:

  1. PRIORITISE – Prioritise what you want to change. What new things do you want to do more of? What existing things do you want to do less of? Be crystal clear on what you want to stop/start
  2. DIARISE – Schedule time in your diary/calendar, to start/stop these things. For example, if you want to get in the habit of preparing better for meetings, schedule time every week to prepare for next week’s meetings. And when the diary reminds you to do it, do it! Do not press “snooze”. Do not press “delete”.  Just do it at the scheduled time
  3. SOCIALISE – Of course, it’s all-too-easy to press snooze/delete. So, tell someone – your manager, a colleague, a friend, a coach, etc – about the changes you want to make. And ask them to check-in with you every week, to make sure you did the new thing, at the scheduled time

When you do all three of these – and you and your Accountability Partner stick with it – your habits will change.

But if any of them is missing, you’ll slip back.

And if they’re all missing – and you’re relying on wishful thinking only – you’ve no chance!

This is such powerful knowledge! Imagine if you could permanently improve the one thing that mattered most to you. That would be lifechanging.

And fortunately, there are only three things you have to do …

Action Point

Do the three steps above!  And keep with it, until new habits stick.

After all, as Octavia Butler says, once you have nailed this … you no longer need lots of inspiration, energy, motivation, etc. It just happens automatically.


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Breaking Bad Habits – 3 simple steps

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