Are Your Habits Doing You Good — Or Doing You In?
Achieving success or struggling depends on many factors, but habits go a long way toward determining either outcome. They are the patterns that, over time, create the results in our lives.
Habits themselves are neither good nor bad but rather serve us in what we desire to create or hinder us from moving forward on what we intend for our lives. They are the mechanism between intention and action.
Breaking habits that no longer serve us and cultivating helpful ones can be difficult, and willpower alone isn’t enough.
It is a natural desire to want to create new results and move forward in our lives. To do so, it is important to gain awareness of the patterns that drive us to shift the ones that are no longer helpful and build new ones.
You can’t create the life you want unless you replace bad habits, and that happens by developing a new mindset. These are new thought processes that are linked to your new clarity of the vision for your life.
Thoughts and emotions are the initial triggers for actions, and they are what ground habitual actions. To shift a habit, you have to identify the initial triggers and thoughts to change the habit at the core. It doesn’t happen overnight because the patterns have been grounded over time.
Usually, some sort of stimuli triggers our habits. Breaking a habit requires changing the action that we take when the stimuli appear. Repeated over and over, these new, more constructive thoughts and resulting positive actions automatically become the new habit.
This does take some time — likely not as long as it took to form the habit, but it does take some dedication and commitment. Standard convention says it takes anywhere from 30–120 days, but it is not a matter of time.
There are two ways to break a pattern: either through a strong emotional impact and intensity or through repetition. Forming new patterns is a matter of commitment and intention, rather than time. Life these days is busy, and we do not always have all the time in the world to commit to forming new patterns, so repetition is our friend here.
The following tips can help to transform bad habits into good habits that lead to success.
Clarify your life vision. Reassessing what we want out of life can provide a more efficient roadmap of goals and how to reach them. Translate your longings and discontents into an actionable, crystallized vision that propels you forward.
If you feel stuck, a powerful vision that’s in alignment with your core values is the most critical first step in liberating yourself and creating the results you want. Good habits flow from an energizing new life vision.
Don’t let doubt or worry hold you back. Distinguish between believing if you deserve to live your dream life and whether or not it is possible. You don’t want to talk yourself out of the vision you have crafted for your life based on whether or not you think it is possible.
It is possible, because if you can imagine the outcome, then there is a way. Knowing that, your new habits stay consistent.
Replace negative beliefs with positive, empowering thoughts. Habits that hinder success often stem from negative thoughts. Some common ones are beliefs about ourselves, other people, money, and success. People think, “I’m not good enough, not smart enough,” or, “Other people will deceive me,” and, “Money is scarce and hard to earn.”
Changing our beliefs to be more positive is what will allow us to access ideas and allow new, positive perceptions to enter our consciousness.
If we recognize that a thought doesn’t serve us, then we can choose to think differently when a stimulus to think negatively occurs. Over time, it becomes easier to think differently because new neural pathways are strengthened with our persistence.
Analyze your stories. Stories are how we live our lives. The way we each live is guided by our beliefs, habits, values, and emotions. It becomes destructive when patterns repeat in our lives that we do not desire, like always having problems with money or the inability to have a fulfilling relationship.
If similar patterns play out that we do not like, we can identify what the underlying beliefs are by taking an objective look at the story.
Give it time so you see results. When we first push back on a habit, there is disbelief, and it seems awkward. We want to commit for at least 90 days, and it will become second nature over time. Building support, accountability, and ways to motivate ourselves for this extended period are what distinguish success.
Over time, through repeated effort, there will come a day when it becomes completely normal and the old actions seem out of character.
It is when your beliefs, thoughts, and emotions completely align with the person who is living your new, clarified vision that the life you want becomes possible. New, good habits become second nature, and while success is never automatic, good habits make it far more likely.
Ngan Nguyen is a leadership coach and the CEO of the executive coaching firm Cintamani Group. She helps entrepreneurs and business leaders bring their greatest vision to life and become the leader they’re meant to be. She is the author ofSelf-Defined Success: You Already Have Everything It Takes. For more info, visit www.nganhnguyen.com.