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In one way or another most of us have an excuse about some part of our lives. Maybe the excuse comes in the form of a limiting belief. Either way, we have them.
Some excuses are on the surface – those that we say and share with others.
Other excuses are deep down. Maybe we know of them but keep them to ourselves – maybe we don’t even face them – or want to……
We have excuses about work, love, life, money, relationships, health……
What are your deep excuses and beliefs? Be honest. It isn’t necessarily fun to think about but we need to do so.
Facing them and addressing them is a great step to take – right now.
Here’s a short article that addresses this subject well….
What’s Your “Secret Excuse”? by Frank Rumbauskas <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It seems like everyone has mental blocks that keep them from succeeding.
A few years back I began using the term “Secret Excuse” in my programs.
A Secret Excuse is, very simply, any excuse you make in your head that gives you a phony reason not to get out there and succeed.
Before I reveal the most common Secret Excuse for salespeople, here are the most common excuses people have for not getting off their butts and making something great of themselves:
– I wasn’t born into the right family
– I’m not “connected”
– I don’t have a college education
– “It can’t be done”
– Why hasn’t someone else done it already?
– I don’t have enough money
– I have a family to support
And so on and so on…
First – honestly identify at least one ‘excuse’ – a deep secret one.
Second – write a question that forces your mind to think otherwise – FOR EXAMPLE: if you think that you’re too old, you could ask yourself a question something like, “How does my age, wisdom, and experience give me an edge? Why does my age, wisdom and experience help me achieve my goals? In what ways do my age, experience and wisdom help me in my life?” – THEN try to answer these – write down ways that your age helps you, benefits you, and find positive references, achievements and such from the past. Do this often.
Third – repeat, and make sure you’re being honest with yourself!
…Fast forward a few years…..After our firm lost 90% of our income from the one factory going direct nationwide, I struggled a few years finding what the next step was and despite the fact that I was working full time I didn’t take any salary the first year after we lost the big chunk of income. I was working and acting on faith. I had saved and invested for the past few years and I’m glad that I did because I was able to live off that while I rebuilt the business. My father had retired and I was running the business full time.
I had to search and find companies and products that I could represent and sell that would start to replace that income. It was a scary and exciting time. It was easier perhaps, because I had few responsibilities. There were some ups and downs in the business and in the economy but life was good for a single guy.
I had a great group of friends from college with which I still hung out. We called ourselves the Dudes. Now, after college, life and work sometimes got in the way. However, we still found time for roadtrips, parties, and other fun things. I have lots of good memories of laughs, practical jokes, talking, hanging out, traveling.
So one summer, our next fun thing was the Jimmy Buffett concert. I didn’t even like Jimmy Buffett but it was a chance to hang out with my friends and to have some fun in the sun……in a parking lot somewhere outside of Pittsburgh. So we packed into my white mini-van and drove. We sat in the parking lot and tail-gated. Frankly I don’t think that I even went in to watch the concert……
So we were partying, having fun…. Just as you do when you tailgate, we were walking around, mingling, and others were coming around to our spot. There I saw Jill again. (Jill was a friend from college who was always nice to talk with … I knew some of the people she dated and she knew some of the people I dated during college)..For the past 2 years, Jill was away at graduate school in North Carolina. Now back in town, she was with her sisters at the concert.
The concert came and went. A few weeks later my buddy from Maryland asked the Dudes to a hotel in Pennsylvania while they were in town for a wedding. For whatever reason, I faxed Jill to let her know we were going there and she was welcome to meet us. (before texting and email, faxing was an easy way to communicate-AOL was still in the early stages) At that point I still thought of Jill as a friend and I wanted to include her with my other close friends.
Jill came and we all had a good time. The next day everyone went their separate ways. Jill and I decided to go have lunch at Wendy’s. I don’t know what was in the Frosty that day but we laughed and had a good time. I made dumb jokes and she laughed. Something had clicked from the evening before. Somewhere in there we decided that we were fond of each and we began to date.
It was a different feeling, it was an attraction, sure, but it was also a head and heart sort of thing. I recall saying to myself, “She’s pretty, smart, funny. We’re good friends, I respect her, I have a great time with her, we can talk about things, we have great families.” I hadn’t seen it before that moment but we were a great fit. We liked spending time with each other and trusted one another. We could talk about anything. There were feelings there. From what started as an immature relationship as friends in college grew to that of young adults taking on life together.
I never looked back after that point. In my younger years I had been fickle and immature with some relationships. But when I thought about dating Jill, I thought, “Yes, this works, this makes sense, this feels right.” The relationship hit all cylinders; my mind, heart and body. I no longer considered dating others and no longer became distracted.
I continued to work in the business and tried to find the right fit for a company to represent. I found another company with a great product but it turned out the owner was taking all the profits and buying boats, etc. and didn’t bother to pay the bills. It’s tough for a manufacturing company to run when you don’t pay for the machinery. That company closed and I again had to start over. I found another company with really good people but their product line was limited and they started having quality issues. Soon because of customer feedback and quality issues, I split with them. It all started to work away at my credibility, since I was switching product lines.
I learned a lot about people, perserverance and life during that time. Many people stuck with me because of my dad, some because of me, some because of the product and / or service. Others took off in a heartbeat after years of working together and after giving them lots of free consulting and help.
I confess that I took some of these things personally, and my ego was bigger then, so it was tough. Plus I suddenly was earning much less despite working long hours, traveling many miles, and driving a white minivan. (A mini-van wasn’t great for a single guy in his mid-twenties!)
Cool, neat, little things happened to us when we were together….for instance one time we got bumped from a flight while we were flying to Florida. We got free first class tickets to anywhere in the continental U.S. So we picked the farthest point that sounded great – San Diego. We traveled to San Diego and experienced lots of great things – with trips to L.A. and Mexico. We again had cool experiences together there. San Diego grew on us.
Jill and I dated for a while but we didn’t want to wait too long to be married. We also didn’t really want all the big ‘fuss’ for our wedding. You see, the year we decided to get married, there were 15 other weddings…..we were invited to all 15. Jill and I were in about 7 of them, including her two sisters. It was crazy! Just think, we spent at least $50 (usually more) for a wedding, plus hotel and travel. That was an expensive year! Most of those weddings were crammed into September-December.
At first we were going to elope to the Outer Banks and come home married. But we decided not to do so, our families might have had hurt feelings, etc. So we decided to have a much smaller and elegant wedding. We wanted to pay for it all ourselves. I got a second job selling alarm systems. One large project paid for some of the reception, another paid for most of the honeymoon. Jill worked a second job and saved money for the wedding and other things. Our parents still wanted to help, so my parents helped by adding and upgrading the food. Jill’s parents helped with the wedding dress and photography.
Still, it felt good to pay for most of it ourselves. I was self-employed and I had decided to start attending the evening MBA program at Pitt. I enjoyed it but the classes after work were a bit tough, as were the payments. I did take out a loan for some of it and I tried to pay for some as I went.
After about a year, my new wife and I saved some money, used a small gift from my parents, and built a small Cape Cod. It was nice and simple. The upstairs and basement were left unfinished to save on dough. We were happy.
The thing about all of it was this- we were tight financially for some time. I actually had to ‘lean’ on my wife for 1-2 years as I rebuild the business, she often made more during the volatile time for me. Then I kept growing it.. She believed in me and I in her. Jill and her sisters were running a large child care center that eventually would have 80+kids.
(At this point I began to think about something that I’d see observe and feel for the rest of my life – it seemed that I was reaching out for a job, an opportunity, something that I was definitely capable of doing well – but I was pushed back. I think in some way I was being pushed or pulled back to where I was supposed to go. Maybe something inside of me or part of me was guiding me. Maybe it was God or something else. But so many times we all experience it – ‘that job would be great and I can do it ‘ then you apply and get smacked back royally. Maybe there’s a reason….almost like we’re being guided back onto the right path….)
I found some stability with my own business and really started to enjoy the MBA program. Many cool things were happening in our lives. Small things like the fact we got upgraded to a Penthouse suite with 3 bathrooms, a dining room with 10 chairs, full kitchen, den, living room, and skyline veranda in Toronto…..Big things like getting pregnant – we were expecting our first child!
Then I had a chance to move onto a totally different career. I got a job as an intelligence analyst. I felt like Jack Ryan from Tom Clancy’s series. I started working for the U.S. Department of Justice and I liked it for a while.
Leaving a cushy job – a good idea or bad idea?……..
….so that fall I returned to college a new person….really I felt like a man for the first time ever. As I mentioned, people treated me differently. I had a new confidence and self-respect. I can tell you that my relationships, grades, and life were affected.
I went to the fitness center 4 or 5 times a week. I ate better. I worked in the office and carried a 90% load of schoolwork. My grades improved greatly. My professors noticed my change. I began to think differently.
My parents now went to Florida from January to April. They bought a small place there and had a great time – they deserved it. My dad played volleyball 4 or 5 days a week and softball once or twice a week. My mother and father rode there bikes around the park most of the day and they socialized. They looked and acted years younger.
Besides some basic challenges, the year went on well. My father had a minor set back the next year but recovered quickly. I continued to run the business mostly on my own, using my dad as a valuable consultant. I would bounce ideas and situations off of him and we’d work together. My father and I did travel together to some larger clients, some tradeshows and other business. I got to spend time with him as a boss, partner and for the first time friend. It was a great time and I am forever grateful for that time. As time went on, I began to inject more of my own ideas and personality into the business. I had much to learn.
The next year of college came and I continued to maintain the balance of work, school, and social life. I began to enjoy the bit of extra money that I started to gather. Life was good.
I began to really taste independence. When I say that, I mean it in a few ways….I tasted what it was like to earn money, to save money, and to invest it. I saw my money grow in my investments, so I understood the passive nature of investing.
By the nature of our business, we set up dealers, home centers, and distributors. They sold our products. We earned commission. That was pretty cool. We earned money whether we were golfing, driving, sleeping or whatever. Sure we had to offer support, service and coordinate deliveries….and yes set up new dealers, but it was cool when I understood that there was a recurring revenue of sorts happening there.
The other part of independence was that we were living one about 30 acres – about 10 acres of fields in front of the home and office, and the balance behind us in beautiful woods. There was a small hillside on the on side of the property so that we were in a nice little valley. Not far in the woods, we had a creek. You could sit in the office in mid-summer and open the windows to a great cool breeze. You could hear birds sing, hear the bubbling creek, and look out and see deer.
If you wanted to take a walk, go fishing, it was all possible. There was an independence so that we were not tied to a city building, hampered by a commute and traffic. We weren’t tied to one employer. We had the freedom of recurring income. The independence that all people experience when they first reach a certain level of income was there. Life was good.
Later in my life I got away from many of these things. I worked in the city and had a very long commute. I worked for controlling employers. I would spend years longing to get back to that independence – the feeling that I controlled my own life. I lost the recurring revenue and the almost passive nature of the income. For many years, sometimes on purpose, sometimes because of circumstances around me, I lost independence. I can tell you this, it is much better, in so many ways, to be as independent as possible. I’ve had it and in some ways, I lost it.
As with any life event, I learned lessons. Among others, I learned the WORDS TO LIVE BY: Independence. Being free to act on your own, free to live where you want. I encourage you, define what independence means to you and what types of it are important to you.
I really grew over a few years. I learned a lot. I took some risks. I made some mistakes. I had successes.
One of the companies was about 90% of our income. We were independent but when you looked at the finances of our business, we were very dependent on one company. It wasn’t by design but because that company had such a diverse nature of products and because of how the territory simply developed, we were tied to them.
One spring we got news that this company hired a new set of sales managers. We got the call that one was coming to our area and we had to set up some visits. We approached it with a great attitude but he was pretty tough to deal with. Even though he knew nothing of the industry, he came across as egotistical, typically interrupted people, and was not a pleasant guy to spend the guy with…..
….he came into town a few times that summer and he’d typically tick off clients wherever he visited. We’d ask for help solving problems but he never solved one of them. He often was late for appointments and was disrespectful to me and my father. Then one day he asked us to meet him somewhere far. So we got up at 5am, drove to see this guy and we got fired.
That year, that company let go of any and every representative like us across the country and they went with some in-house salaried people. (Within 12 months that company also let go that sales manager!) Things change. You must adapt!.
So we drove all the way home on that beautiful summer day. I could tell that my dad was very upset that suddenly the business had lost 90% of its cashflow and the legacy he wanted to leave was not going to be the same. We tried to enjoy the day and we discussed the exit strategy….we also began to think about what the next step would be………
(This is one of a part of a series of WORDS TO LIVE BY. This series grew out of a workbook I first made for my young daughters and discussed at the dinner table. These Words include values, good ideas, and Words to aspire to….and learn from….enjoy!)
According to Wikipedia; Confidence is generally described as a state of being certain either that a hypothesis or prediction is correct or that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective. Self-confidence is having confidence in oneself. Arrogance or hubris in this comparison, is having unmerited confidence—believing something or someone is capable or correct when they are not. Overconfidence or presumptuousness is excessive belief in someone (or something) succeeding, without any regard for failure. Confidence can be a self-fulfilling prophecy as those without it may fail or not try because they lack it and those with it may succeed because they have it rather than because of an innate ability.
Self-confidence does not necessarily imply ‘self-belief’ or a belief in one’s ability to succeed. For instance, one may be inept at a particular sport or activity, but remain ‘confident’ in one’s demeanor, simply because one does not place a great deal of emphasis on the outcome of the activity. When one does not dwell on negative consequences one can be more ‘self-confident’ because one is worrying far less about failure or the disapproval of others following potential failure. One is then more likely to focus on the actual situation which means that enjoyment and success in that situation is also more probable. Belief in one’s abilities to perform an activity comes through successful experience and may add to, or consolidate, a general sense of self-confidence.[original research?] Studies have also found a link between high levels of confidence and wages. Seemingly, those who self-report they were confident earlier in schooling, earned better wages and were promoted more quickly over the life course.
I was in my senior year of college. I decided to take an extra class just to give back a bit, to contribute. Much of my college life was pretty self-centered, immature, and mediocre. But when my father had a heart attack during my junior year, it woke me up. We had a family business that I had worked in before, to some degree, but like many things, I wasn’t giving 100%. Now I actually had to “run” the business. I made some mistakes, probably ruffled some feathers, and I started out rough. Many called it ‘baptism by fire’. In retrospect, it was the best thing that happened to me, since my father recoverd and actually seemed better after (a bypass gave him a new start).
So I had a new appreciation for things, gratitude, and I wanted to finally work a bit harder and start giving back, acting more like a man. So I signed up for a class on literacy – where we were to learn how to teach adults, illiterate adults, how to read. Pretty cool.
I hadn’t needed the credits to graduate so I signed up for a pass-fail class. I went to the classes and I was the only one from my graduating class that actually went to someone’s house and taught them how to read. My other senior classmates didn’t for whatever reason. I remember that the end of school came for grades and I got the report card, the transcript. As I mentioned, I signed up for a pass-fail. I just signed up for the class to do it, to contribute. But someone in the Registrar’s office must have hit the wrong button because I got a grade. I got a C.
To walk around with an ego is a bad thing. To have confidence in yourself is a great thing. Fred Durst
How was that possible? I attended all but one class, there were no tests, I participated in class, and I actually visited a home, assessed an adult and began to teach him to read. It was pretty cool. My senior classmates did none of this and they got B’s and A’s. I was furious. Why? How?
I tried to reach the professor but he went on a cruise. I went to the Dean, she said it was up to the professor. I wrote letters, got angry, and made noise.
But then I realized, I was a 21 year old who could run a small business, help a family recover from a pretty big family crisis, I could fix a water system, act as a general contractor, logistics manager, personnel manager and many other things due to my trials. And yes, now I could teach adults to read. It’s amazing how much self-assurance you can suddenly have when you remove your ego and emotions and look at the big picture. When I got back to contributing I felt confident. I felt happy.
We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot. Eleanor Roosevelt
One time I tried stand-up during an open mike night. I was terrified that people wouldn’t laugh at my jokes. My fears, it turns out, were well-founded. I bombed.
Shortly thereafter, I began doing presentations for business. I was so confident from the stand up, even though it was a failure, it didn’t matter that I was talking to some older, more successful people.
When I first learned to ski, a friend told me to fall properly. Falling was actually an option if I was going too fast or out of control. Falling was part of the process. So I felt more confident skiing because I knew that falling was OK and that I knew how to fall properly.
Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend. Non-being is the greatest joy. Lao Tzu
Learning how to fall in skiing, comedy, and business gave me massive courage where I had once been apprehensive. And this confidence-building technique applies in almost any challenging situation. I call it “The Antidote Strategy.” What’s the worst that can happen? What if you remove your negative emotions and your ego? Haven’t you done something before that was just as hard? Something that you never did before?
Being self-confident can help you get a job, win a new client, or get other people on your side. It can help you try a new hobby, lose weight, or even get a date. By developing an “Antidote Strategy,” you can guarantee that you’ll be at your best when attempting to succeed at just about anything.
What I’ve finally learned in life, and I’m still working on actually putting into action, is that self-confidence mostly has to do with how or what I focus on, and how I manage my own emotions! It sounds simple but it is true.
Think about it. If you focus on past successes and strengths, you have references and you’ll feel confident. If you look at this fall as another failure, you won’t have confidence.
If you let panic, desparation, or fear come into your mind and heart – and allow it to stay – your choices, communications and actions will reflect that state of mind – and you will not be confident. If you relax, focus on what is working, focus on what you want, focus on action steps and build momentum, even small baby steps, you’ll be more confident in whatever it is.
Here are some other ideas….
Self-confidence brings one a sense of power and certainty in the moment. It seems to produce a certain “knowing” that one has the capacity to handle whatever is being thrown at them.
Eliminating self-sabotage and building self-confidence will provide the breakthroughs so you CAN begin to put this cycle into effect while you build momentum. Being able to control your emotions will enable you to operate more efficiently.
There are 3 primary ways to create any emotion.
1). Physiology plays a huge role affecting our emotional state. How we move, our breathing patterns, our facial expressions, etc. actually cause chemical cascades in our brains that cause specific emotions based on what chemicals are released.
So, the quickest way to instill the feeling of self-confidence is to radically change your breathing, gestures, movement and facial expressions.
Here’s some fun you can try: Get up and walk around your room as though you have all the self confidence in the world! Strut, swagger, play with it. Keep it up for a few minutes. Really.
How does that make you feel? When I did it, I took a kitchen apron, slung it around my neck so the apron part was like a super-hero’s cape. I felt fantastic! (I was also still in my pink fluffy robe and pajamas.) What a picture I must have made!
2). Second, Control your mental focus. By asking questions like, “What’s the best way to complete this project now?” or “What’s the best way to get this done and have a blast doing it?” You will find better answers by asking better questions.
Consciously choosing what questions to ask has also worked wonders. We’re already asking questions in our heads all day long, so we might as well ask GOOD ones!
3). Finally, pay attention to what you believe and whether or not your beliefs are empowering. Have the courage to change any core beliefs that do not serve you to improve your life. Change from “I’ve never done that before, so I can’t do it now,” to “If I can imagine it, then I can achieve it.”
You can add these questions as well;
If I am committed, there’s a way to do it.
If I need help, I can get help.
If it doesn’t work out, I can learn something and try again.
Recall five of your greatest successes and write a paragraph describing each one.
Use these examples to remind yourself that there are always options and that knowledge can help to strengthen your self-confidence.
Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.” – Unknown
“When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things.” – Unknown
From Inc.com – a GREAT article!
Be Happier: 10 Things to Stop Doing Right Now
Sometimes the route to happiness depends more on what you don’t do.
Consider, for example, what happens when you stop doing the following 10 things:
People make mistakes. Employees don’t meet your expectations. Vendors don’t deliver on time.
So you blame them for your problems.
But you’re also to blame. Maybe you didn’t provide enough training. Maybe you didn’t build in enough of a buffer. Maybe you asked too much, too soon.
Taking responsibility when things go wrong instead of blaming others isn’t masochistic, it’s empowering–because then you focus on doing things better or smarter next time.
And when you get better or smarter, you also get happier.
No one likes you for your clothes, your car, your possessions, your title, or your accomplishments. Those are all “things.” People may like your things–but that doesn’t mean they like you.
Sure, superficially they might seem to, but superficial is also insubstantial, and a relationship that is not based on substance is not a real relationship.
Genuine relationships make you happier, and you’ll only form genuine relationships when you stop trying to impress and start trying to just be yourself.
When you’re afraid or insecure, you hold on tightly to what you know, even if what you know isn’t particularly good for you.
An absence of fear or insecurity isn’t happiness: It’s just an absence of fear or insecurity.
Holding on to what you think you need won’t make you happier; letting go so you can reach for and try to earn what you want will.
Even if you don’t succeed in earning what you want, the act of trying alone will make you feel better about yourself.
Interrupting isn’t just rude. When you interrupt someone, what you’re really saying is, “I’m not listening to you so I can understand what you’re saying; I’m listening to you so I can decide what I want to say.”
Want people to like you? Listen to what they say. Focus on what they say. Ask questions to make sure you understand what they say.
They’ll love you for it–and you’ll love how that makes you feel.
Your words have power, especially over you. Whining about your problems makes you feel worse, not better.
If something is wrong, don’t waste time complaining. Put that effort into making the situation better. Unless you want to whine about it forever, eventually you’ll have to do that. So why waste time? Fix it now.
Don’t talk about what’s wrong. Talk about how you’ll make things better, even if that conversation is only with yourself.
And do the same with your friends or colleagues. Don’t just be the shoulder they cry on.
Friends don’t let friends whine–friends help friends make their lives better.
Yeah, you’re the boss. Yeah, you’re the titan of industry. Yeah, you’re the small tail that wags a huge dog.
Still, the only thing you really control is you. If you find yourself trying hard to control other people, you’ve decided that you, your goals, your dreams, or even just your opinions are more important than theirs.
Plus, control is short term at best, because it often requires force, or fear, or authority, or some form of pressure–none of those let you feel good about yourself.
Find people who want to go where you’re going. They’ll work harder, have more fun, and create better business and personal relationships.
And all of you will be happier.
Yeah, you’re more educated. Yeah, you’re more experienced. Yeah, you’ve been around more blocks and climbed more mountains and slayed more dragons.
That doesn’t make you smarter, or better, or more insightful.
That just makes you you: unique, matchless, one of a kind, but in the end, just you.
Just like everyone else–including your employees.
Everyone is different: not better, not worse, just different. Appreciate the differences instead of the shortcomings and you’ll see people–and yourself–in a better light.
Criticizing has a brother. His name is Preaching. They share the same father: Judging.
The higher you rise and the more you accomplish, the more likely you are to think you know everything–and to tell people everything you think you know.
When you speak with more finality than foundation, people may hear you but they don’t listen. Few things are sadder and leave you feeling less happy.
The past is valuable. Learn from your mistakes. Learn from the mistakes of others.
Then let it go.
Easier said than done? It depends on your focus. When something bad happens to you, see that as a chance to learn something you didn’t know. When another person makes a mistake, see that as an opportunity to be kind, forgiving, and understanding.
The past is just training; it doesn’t define you. Think about what went wrong, but only in terms of how you will make sure that, next time, you and the people around you will know how to make sure it goes right.
We’re all afraid: of what might or might not happen, of what we can’t change, or what we won’t be able to do, or how other people might perceive us.
So it’s easier to hesitate, to wait for the right moment, to decide we need to think a little longer or do some more research or explore a few more alternatives.
Meanwhile days, weeks, months, and even years pass us by.
And so do our dreams.
Don’t let your fears hold you back. Whatever you’ve been planning, whatever you’ve imagined, whatever you’ve dreamed of, get started on it today.
If you want to start a business, take the first step. If you want to change careers, take the first step. If you want to expand or enter a new market or offer new products or services, take the first step.
Put your fears aside and get started. Do something. Do anything.
Otherwise, today is gone. Once tomorrow comes, today is lost forever.
Today is the most precious asset you own–and is the one thing you should truly fear wasting.
OK, New Year 2013 is here and many people have made resolutions. (also many have already broken those resolutions)
I have had a tough time in life breaking bad habits and making new ones. But once in a while I’d almost immediately stop doing something, break a habit and/or build a good habit almost overnight – but I didn’t know how or why.
For a long time, probably like some of you, I kept trying to change some of my habits — eating healthier, waking earlier, writing, exercising, getting out of debt, other things about dreams and life — and I kept having a very tough time breaking the bad and starting the new.
In retrospect, I now know that I approached things in the wrong way. Many of us set ourselves up for failure, and that’s what I was doing. One could say that I was ‘building a habit of failing at habits’.
I recently read a great blog about changing habits and here is a helpful excerpt. It is written by Leo Babauta is the owner of ZenHabits.net.
“How to Fail at Habits
I failed at creating new habits repeatedly. Here’s what I did, and what most people also do:
- Take on multiple habits at once. We have lots of things we want to change, so we try to change them all at once. Of course, this spreads our focus and energy thin, so that we can’t give our entire focus to any one habit. Habits are hard to change, and spreading yourself thin is a good way to make sure you fail.
- Bite off more than you can chew. Whether you do one habit or many at a time, try to do as much with each habit as possible, so that it takes up a lot of energy and seems really hard. Don’t run for 5 minutes, try doing 30. That way it’ll be a big chunk of your day that will get pushed to tomorrow when other urgent things come up, it will take a lot of your physical and mental energy, and it’ll be something you dread doing because it’s so difficult. Don’t meditate for 5 minutes, meditate for 60. Do 90 minutes of yoga. Change your entire diet all at once. These are excellent ways to fail.
- Tackle habits you don’t enjoy. Because habits should be something you do for moral reasons — they’re good for you! And so it doesn’t matter if you hate them, and if you dread doing them after awhile, because you’re going to be disciplined. That works extremely seldomly, so it’s a great strategy.
- Keep it a secret. Don’t tell anyone you’re changing your habit. That way, if you mess up, it won’t be embarrassing. This means that you secretly think you’re going to mess up, which is another excellent way to fail.
- Jump right into it. Decide today to start running, and just do it! This way you are treating it as if it’s nothing, and not a big commitment. You don’t plan for obstacles, don’t set up a support system, don’t give yourself rewards, and treat the habit change as lightly as you do putting on your socks. And when you quit doing the habit, it will be no problem either.
- Don’t worry about how others have succeeded. Why read the success stories of other people? You know better than them. You can do it without learning from them. That’s what I used to think, at least.
- Don’t motivate yourself. You don’t need motivation if you have discipline. Discipline is something you have or don’t have, but motivation is something you can actually do.
- Give yourself plenty of opportunities to give up. Trying to eat healthy? Have your cupboards and fridge filled with junk food, and have it surround you at work, and go to restaurants filled with fried foods and sugary sweets. You’ll definitely have the discipline to ignore those.
The eight steps above are a sure-fire recipe for habit failure, and I recommend you try all of them if you’re looking to fail. Of course, if you’re looking to succeed, you might want to avoid them and possibly try the opposite.”
Another great resource is the book ‘The Power of Habits” (charlesduhigg.com) . Great insight and studies how we build habits; individually and as a large organization. Great examples, stories, etc.
I also wrote a blog about the book and habits with some good ideas at http://wp.me/p2mGFu-3r