Adopting great habits

Remember when you were learning to drive, and you had to think about every single action you took to make the car go?  Remember how overwhelming that seemed at first?  Now when you drive, how much conscious thought do you devote to your physical actions when you’re driving (clutch, shift, brake, signal, etc.)?  Probably not much.  All those years of practice have paid off – now you operate the car subconsciously and turn your attention to more unpredictable matters like traffic!

How many other habits have you developed over the years?  Do you even think about how you brush your teeth or the actions of getting dressed?  Do you ever think about the mechanics of walking and the communication that’s going on between your brain and your legs?  Do you have a habit of procrastinating when it comes to doing things you don’t want to do?  Do you have conditioned responses to certain situations?

Habits are nature’s brilliant way of allowing us to operate without having to make any conscious mental effort to make it happen, freeing us up to think about new or unfamiliar things.  Habits are nothing more than actions repeated over and over until they become subconscious.  Just as we have motor habits (walking, for example) we also have thought habits.  

Thought habits can be beneficial, but they can also be very damaging to your goals.  Procrastination is an avoidance habit that your brain uses to prevent the possibility of harm.  Your brain’s main job is to keep you safe.  Take yourself out of your safe zone by doing things that are new, and your brain says “whoa, this could be dangerous!” and releases chemicals that create negative emotions about the new activity and entice you to go right back to where you feel comfortable.

But, as you know, you can’t get “there” by repeating the same behaviors that got you “here.”

So it’s time to bring out the whip and the chair and tame that unruly beast of a brain, right?  Yes – only it doesn’t need to be that dramatic!

Developing new habits (habits that actually serve you) is just as easy as developing bad habits.  You simply have to repeat certain thought patterns until they embed in your subconscious.   The problem lies in becoming aware of the thought patterns that need eliminating.  Can you listen to yourself objectively?  Can you see past your inner self-talk (designed to make you feel good about staying right where you are!) and deliberately make yourself think different thoughts?  This is not something that’s easy to do on your own.  Identifying the thought-habits that hold you back is much easier when you can talk to someone trained to spot your habitual negative thoughts and help you formulate a plan to move you past them.

Try an experiment for the next 45 days.  Every day, write in your journal the opposite of a belief and negative thought pattern you have.  For example, if you are shy about asking for money for your services, write in your journal, “People see the value in what I’m giving, they gladly pay for it, and I receive it gratefully.  This is how it should be.”  Or something like that, in your own words.  You have to write this every single day for 45 days.  If you miss a day, you must start over!  This is similar to experiments done by brain scientists to figure out the precise moment when a thought becomes a thought-habit.  It takes somewhere between 30 and 45 days for a new thought to become a thought-habit, and you must be consistent about it.  Stick to 45 days, just for good measure.

What’s going to happen at the end of those 45 days?  You will start feeling worthy of the money you receive for your services.  You will be bolder when asking for fair compensation.  You will actually attract more customers or clients because you will project confidence in yourself (and you will be perceived as having more to offer than if you short-change yourself!)

Building these new neural pathways takes time and persistence.  Your new thoughts will lead to new beliefs, and new actions.  Then, watch your results go through the roof!

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