If I had more time I would…[fill in the blank]. Most people have had an unprecedented amount of time on their hands the last month due to quarantine situations around the world. How are you doing? How have you been using your time? Are you trying to change the things you’ve wanted to change for some time? Are you trying to create those new habits you wished you’d already started?
So much of your life is driven by habit. You learn something, repeat enough and before you know it, you’re doing that thing without thinking.
During our quarantine time my wife Jane added new shelves to the pantry. That meant removing the trash can from its long standing spot and getting a new one that now stands next to the kitchen isle.
The panty looks great and has lots more storage room. The stainless steel trash can also looks great because it matches our refrigerator and other kitchen items. Life is good! Well, except for the fact that both Jane and I keep opening the darn pantry door to throw out our trash. We’ve lived in our home for 30 years so breaking that old habit might take a good bit of time.
Have you ever experienced something similar where you mindlessly kept going back to the way you’ve always done something? Maybe you moved the toothpaste from the bathroom cabinet to a drawer, got a new coffee maker and still act as if you had your old one, or perhaps you changed jobs which means driving to work a new way. In each case you might have found yourself reverting to the old way of doing things without thinking.
Fortunately, I’ve not tossed any trash inside the pantry but I’ve opened the door countless times with that intent. I decided I needed a prompt to stop me from doing that. My prompt to help create the new habit more quickly is posting a yellow sticky note – NOT TRASH – on the pantry door to stop myself as I reflexively move in that direction. So far so good.
What prompts do you need to stop old behaviors? What prompts could help you start new behaviors? If you’re looking for great resources on habit formation check out my good friend John Millen’s LeaderMotiv site.
Change is never easy so give yourself a break when you catch yourself falling back into old habits. Knowing it’s not easy, don’t give up either. Something got you into the old habit and probably did so over a long period. The good news is, something can get you out and probably won’t take as long if you remain focused on change.
To Do This Week
Ask yourself three questions:
- What’s going well? Keep it up!
- What do I want to change? Commit to start immediately.
- Use a yellow sticky note. This might prompt you to engage your new habit.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.
Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was a top 10 selling Amazon book in several insurance categories and top 50 in sales & selling. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world!