Breaking bad… habits that is
Why is it so freakin’ hard to eliminate bad habits?
I love reading the stories of so many internet gurus who say how easy it is to create a new habit or eliminate an old one. “All you have to do is just DO it for 21 days or 66 days or however long they decided”
Bullshit. That would be fine if it was EASY to DO that thing that you want to create everyday. It’s not about simply pegging it to another activity or setting a reminder on your phone to do such and such a thing. Beating procrastination
The reality for me was that this was freakin hard. I’ve spent the past year working on my daily habits to create a win every morning for my mental, physical, emotional, spiritual bodies and my business. That’s been going quite well and has proven incredibly valuable to me. I meditate for 10 -20 min, exercise with qi gong or tai chi, email, text or call my kids and mother, write down 10 new ideas about a topic that’s on my mind, and review a business book or business training for 15 min-30 min. That’s how I start my day.
And it feels great.
Yet I was still stuck on my business. I wasn’t posting as often as I wanted, publishing blogs or reaching out to my network as often as I wanted. I would start to write something, then table it unfinished as I was called to the next part of my day running a retail business, or creating a meditation retreat centre, or volunteering with a community arts program. Or I would be tired and go home where living off the grid means chopping wood, carrying wood, lighting fires (otherwise there’s no heat or hot water in the morning as we have 2 wooden stoves that run all the infrastructure in the house.
All that doesn’t really matter anyway as I don’t have a reasonable enough internet connection to post my blogs, send out emails, or do any of the things I am addicted to when I’m back in the States and wifi is everywhere and you can’t shut it off.
Oh the joys of living in the middle of the forest overlooking the ocean.
I love my life except when I get so freakin’ frustrated with the lack of internet/phone service that I completely lose it. Not that that ever happens.
Except it did happen.
Just last week.
I had been trying to finalize a significant investment and generated a wire transfer from my US bank in NY to a bank in Texas. The internet gods were a bit fickle at that moment, and I was able to get a clear internet signal to log on, but oh wait, I couldn’t log in because every time I log in with a different computer or different browser my bank automatically thinks someone’s hacking my account and makes me dial in on the phone for them to reset my connection. Another 20 minutes later I’m back into the system and I easily create a wire transfer with their super updated online software. I hit confirm and tell my partners, “I’m in on the deal, money’s been sent.”
Oh, except that it hasn’t been sent and the next day I get an email saying I need to call the bank to confirm security details to be sure it was me sending the money. Well, by that time it was nearly 8 am in the morning in Australia but 6 pm NY time. Long past the time the wire department goes home.
The saga continued endlessly for nearly 10 days with the Memorial Holiday thrown in as well to keep things interesting.
Voice messages the bank would leave me were time stamped 1 am Hobart time. I had written to them to tell them that I don’t have telephone or internet signal at that hour, but no, they kept calling then.
More phone calls and transfers through the cyber jungle of lost callers as I was repeatedly sent to a voice message that said “please key in the extension of the person you are trying to dial”. I was losing it more and more as each day passed.
My shear and total frustration was beyond belief.
None of my mindfulness techniques was helping me to stay calm when I was on the phone with the bank being transferred endlessly to nonexistent numbers and unable to get back to an operator.
And then finally 10 days in, I called again and a human answers the wire desk extension. I answer all the questions for security and get the thumbs up.
Until an email arrives in my box the next morning to say that I needed to add a reference number.
What part of spending the last 10 days trying to confirm every minute detail had them leave out requesting this info from me?
Well that did it. I was in total and complete breakdown.
It actually made me question everything in my life.
I couldn’t stop crying.
It made me just want to give up and go hide under the covers and never come out again.
It brought up all the anxiety of all the other things I was having trouble finishing no matter how hard I tried.
I was in full on crisis mode.
It made me question everything I believed in.
It made me question what in the world I was doing living in such a remote place without clear telephone or internet lines. Who does that?
And why was that making it so hard for me to create a new habit of getting all my work done in one hour or less?
I know that if I could totally focus I could get my work done in that short amount of time, I could enjoy all the other free time and spending many hours just watching the sun rise and set. But that one hour I set aside for internet doesn’t leave any room for reading or responding to bulk emails or playing on facebook. Seems that distracting onself with facebook is one of productivities new mega-nemesis.
I have been trying for ages to add this one habit. ONE solid hour advancing my business goals. But It’s been incredibly resistant.
I thought maybe my “why” wasn’t enough.
Maybe I’m just not good enough.
Maybe I really should just quit trying to help people.
I thought about what would happen if I did quit the coaching/mentoring business what would change? And the answer is nothing. But I still felt this giant hole where I know I could help a lot of people eliminate their overwhelm and create the business of their dreams so that they could create the life of their dreams.
I know how stressed and overwhelmed everyone is with being on 24/7. I know very few people who actually know how to turn off the phone/laptop and step outside just for the heck of it. To create that whitespace in your calendar where you don’t have to DO anything.
Yes of course we teach what we most need to learn.
And I learned that lesson the hard way.
I fought through pneumonia, quitting a high paying job, and creating my own business.
Then my own business turned out to be a slavedriver and I choose to leave that!
I now run 2 businesses and 2 not for profit community groups and I feel very fulfilled, except for my lack of reliable internet connection and the lingering doubt that I must not be good enough, because I couldn’t advance as quickly as I wanted in this one area.
So I looked again at how to create a habit.
How could I make sure that I was in the right frame of mind, with the right amount of energy to hit my current business goal; grow my email list to 1000 subscribers.
To do that, I’ve decided to wake up 1 hour earlier and dedicate that hour to my business.
Sounds easy, but I was already getting up at 5/5:30 so that means setting the alarm for 4/4:40 am. I’m actually ok with that. But it also means laser focus when I do get into the office where I have an internet connection. It’s not fast, but it’s a heck of a lot faster than the excrutiatingly slow overburdened satellite connection at the house.
For the first 2 days I got out of bed easily fine, completed my other 5 daily habits in, yet still struggled to finish my full 60 min of attention on my current business goal: increase my email list.
And so I started looking to see what other people are using to create new habits and eliminate bad habits. Some people like to call them unproductive or unhealthy habits. More BS politically correct speaking.
Let’s just call these cravings, addictions, procrastinations what they are bad for me. They might not be bad for you, but they’re bad for me.
Two main schools of thought appear: The carrot approach and the stick approach.
We’re all pretty familiar with the carrot approach. Do it through positive positioning and awareness or mindfulness to place the new good habit in a spot on your calendar and “peg” it to a current routine. People say they like this approach a lot. Think of all the good things you can do and will feel when you’ve installed/added this good habit.
Now the stick approach: Seems many people say they want to be motivated by positive desires, but many people actually respond better initially to the stick. The fear of what happens if you don’t do this thing. The pain that NOT creating or eliminating this habit will bring. And so we have a new gadget called Pavlok which beaks bad habits via zaptic feedback. Yes, that pavlovian bell-ringing technique to make dogs salivate can now help you eliminate your bad habits. This zap through is actually designed for you to shock yourself. I’m having a hard time imagining that I would WANT to do that. If you want to check it out, Amazon’s got it on sale with free shipping for $199.
This device was created by Maneesh Sethi, brother of mega entrepreneur Ramit Sethi of “I Will Teach you to Be Rich Fame” and it’s garnered a whole lot of attention with an Indiegogo crowdfunding to launch the product. They shipped 500 units on their first launch. So clearly lots of people are resonating with this tactic.
Pavlok is described as a coach on your wrist creating positive punishment to help you with things like: wasting time online, sitting still for too long (video games), going to fast food restaurants, biting your nails, pressing the snooze button, walking 10,000 steps/day, working out 4 x /week at the gym.
I’m not sure why that works better than a rubber band snap on your own wrist when you start biting your nails, although it is a lot cooler and looks more like a fitbit.
I’ve seen testimonials of numerous people who used it so that they could sit down to write for 1 hour, or to eliminate coffee drinking in 5 days or to stay off facebook when they should be working. These are all plagues of the solopreneur and modern day small business owner.
How DO you stay focused with so many cool rabbit holes slide down all over the net. So much info you might miss out on if you don’t click on that link.
I have lots of techniques and tips to get around the email and facebook tabs, but the real issue for me was sitting down for 1 hour to do something that isn’t urgent but is very important.
Tony Robbins has always said this is where your true growth comes from and where you should spend at least 80% of your time doing what is important but not urgent. If you’re stuck in always doing everything that’s urgent especially if it’s only urgent for someone else, you will NEVER get the important things done in your life.
Grow my business form the ground up by providing tons of value and testing out my ideas to see if anyone else is also interested in them.
In the past I’ve tried websites where I have to make a charitable donation to my least favorite cause.
That’s a big motivator!
For example: I’ve created my own punishment by emailing myself that I will create 1000 new email subscribers by July 31, 2016 or I will donate $100 to Donald Trump’s campaign. This is something I absolutely do not want to do. So I have the incentive of getting done what I want to get done (the carrot) and the disincentive of not completing my goal (the stick).
Well, that’s what I’ve got for today.
Breakdown to breakthrough.
What’s your worst habit?
And what are you willing to do to break it?