Welcome to episode #162 of the Own Your Best Life Podcast. What does it take to stop perpetuating the habits that you no longer want in your life? We often want to change our habits and create new ones to help us finally do the things we want to be doing. When we find ourselves going through life with the same behaviors and realize that it’s time for a change, we often find it hard to stay consistent. How do we actually create new, healthy habits? Today’s podcast will help you understand what is keeping you from being as consistent and what will help you keep making progress on your goals.
When I coach individuals and groups on new behaviors, what I often find is that right after the training or session, people are primed to make changes. They’re excited, they believe in the reasoning behind the change, and they start taking action. What ends up happening, however, is that a month to 3 months or so in, motivation starts to falter and some people keep going while others stop. What makes the difference?
The biggest difference is the expectation of what change will be like. If you expect it to be easy and not have setbacks in terms of progress or consistency, you will see the one missed workout or the tough conversation as a sign that this doesn’t work and a reason to give up. If you expect progress to be challenging, you will see one missed workout or tough conversation as a sign that this is why you need to not give up.
Everyone has patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. Your patterns may have come from a myriad of different places – including your childhood, parents, societal norms, cultural expectations, organizations and formative experiences. These patterns dictate how you react to certain situations. For example, if you want to have fun and celebrate – you might associate that with food and drinking. Another example might be that if you are stressed and irritated, you might work more and control things to try to feel better. The list goes on.
Creating new, healthy habits requires self-awareness of these patterns. It requires you to rewrite certain unwritten rules that you’ve been following that don’t keep you happy and healthy. In order for that to happen, you need to see that what you’ve been doing is a choice. This ability to see choice may be the hardest thing you will ever do in terms of creating new, healthy habits. Yet, it can be the only thing that is keeping you from taking new patterns towards a new way of living.
For example, when I was burning out and finally decided that I wanted to change this behavior – it wasn’t because it was the first time I was burning out. It was the first time I was aware that it was a choice. It was the first time I saw myself not as a victim of the situation I was in but as someone who willingly chose these types of more intense work situations again and again. I wanted it and yet, I didn’t. That’s confusing for us as humans. We want to feel right and that we’re not purposefully choosing behaviors that harm us, yet we’re complex beings. We can have parts of ourselves that want to have more time and space for work, but also parts of ourselves that want that more intense pressure. Which part wins?
On any given day, you will likely default to the most practiced part that wins. My most practiced habits were working a lot and more. Of pushing. I would force myself to pretend I didn’t care about the endless emails and deadlines to try to not over-work or get stressed, but it didn’t work for the long-haul. I would find myself back in similar stressful situations, again and again. Why? Because I kept saying yes to the choices I had between work that felt intensely challenging and thoughts that felt like I had to push harder/faster. I knew that I could change jobs but I would take myself everywhere I go.
The true unlock is when I embraced that part of me that liked to push and be challenged – and use it for me versus against me. I started seeing that what was more challenging wasn’t just doing more, but doing less but more. It wasn’t by telling myself that I wanted less from life. It was telling myself that the way to have the richer and deeper experiences I desired was from a different way of working and living. I used that intensity for my own good.
You have something in you today that keeps you going back to the habits that you don’t want. That part of you is a strong, driving force. Use it to form the newer, healthier habit you desire. If you keep seeing food and drink as the ultimate source of release and celebration, what part of you do you need to embrace even more? It’s that part that likes to have release and celebration. Don’t stop that part of yourself – just give yourself even more release and celebration so that you don’t only find it in food and drink.
If there’s a part of yourself that likes to push towards big goals but keep riding the burnout cycle, use that push part of yourself to work towards the ultimate big goal: hitting your biggest goals without burning out.
There is always a way to take the driving parts of you and make it work for you. Instead of diminishing who you are, you can claim and refocus the innate strength you have and bring it forward in such a way that you will end up seeing yourself as someone who has what it takes to live your life the way you want, now.
You don’t have to wait to become better to create new, healthy habits.
You can take one small shift today, to identify that part of you that is driving what you no longer want – and aim it towards what you do want. Give yourself what you need and want – just in a way that works for you.
If you find yourself regressing in your habits, know that you’re not alone and this is exactly what progress looks like. One step backwards, two steps forwards, two steps backwards, one step forwards and even when it doesn’t feel like it’s working – just take one small step at a time – and reach out for help.
Remind yourself of these things:
You are more supported than you realize.
There are always more people rooting for you than you realize.
This isn’t the end of your story.
This is what you came for.
You don’t have to do it alone.
I’m giving you what you need to give yourself: a lot of support and empathy.
It’s not always easy to create change, but I promise it will be worth it.
If you like this blend of both practicality and mindset, you will love coaching. You can schedule a consultation at www.mayempson.com/contact to learn more about working together and joining this community of like-minded, open and curious seekers. It is the powerful group and private coaching hybrid experience for achievers who want to expand their vision of what’s possible. Twelve months of support, individualized guidance, community and retreats. We will help you build your confidence, trust your intuition and make decisions that you love.
I’ve also just created a free masterclass for you. If you’re ready to figure out what’s next, you’ll want to sign up for the replay of my most recent masterclass, “Figuring out What’s Next.” Go to the link here to sign up and learn the three phases of where you’re at in your career/life crossroads and what to do in each phase.
That’s it for this week. Have an amazing one and I’ll talk to you next time.