It started with a simple question: “How does your day start?”
“Well,” he responded, “The alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m.”
“But,” he continued with head bowed slightly, “I hit the snooze at least ten times…every single day.”
Prior to this, we had been talking about how as a company, he and his team were committed to growth and results. And as an individual, he was committed to success. He was a good and honest leader, admired by many.
And yet, despite the commitment, team buy-in, and support, he was not doing those things to which he had committed. He could not understand why he was not seeing results.
And that is when I asked the question, “How does your day start?”
I called him out on it. “You’re feeding the enemy,” I said. “He’s smiling because he knows that your morning habit is keeping you from making progress. He has you right where he wants you…snoozing through life.”
The realization of the morning habit he had developed and how it was affecting not just his morning, but the rest of his day as well, was a light bulb moment. He realized that this one habit was also violating one of his core values – that of being true to his word.
It was a tough realization, but I am thrilled to report that shortly thereafter, I began getting emails from him, letting me know that he had gotten up at 5:30 a.m. and was working out. He even texted me pictures from his office one morning to show he was working early and getting a great deal done before anyone else came in.
Practicing this new habit to replace the old one was a small step that carried major impact.
He began to feel better physically from working out, which had a direct and positive effect on his productivity and outlook. And the more he accomplished toward his goals, the more energized he became.
Changing just one habit generated the cycle of energy needed to start reaching goals and getting results.
How do you break one bad habit that is holding you back?
Identify the Problem
Think about your goals, both personal and professional. What goals did you set for the year? Are you on track? For many, the answer is a regretful no.
Then take the next and even more important step – ask yourself why.
WHY haven’t you reached your goals?
Your first answer will likely be an excuse.
- “My team is not committed.”
- “I don’t have time.”
- “Circumstances prevented me from reaching my goals.”
Here’s the key: don’t accept your first answer.
Dig deeper. Ask why repeatedly until you get to the bottom line.
The bottom line may be that you don’t communicate well with your team, took on too much to start with, didn’t have a plan to execute the goal, or simply that you have procrastinated.
The closer you get to the bottom line, the closer you get to personal responsibility.
Identify the Bad Habit
Now consider the bottom line you have determined. In the example above, it was procrastination. What habit or habits were feeding that bottom line? Sometimes is as simple as hitting the snooze alarm.
That was the underlying habit.
Now you’re getting somewhere. You have gone from blaming circumstances you can’t control to habits you can control. And that is a powerful step.
Create a Plan
The first part of your plan is to ask what you will stop. In this case, it was simply to stop hitting the snooze alarm.
But stopping a bad habit is not enough.
You must replace it with a good habit. And for that, you need a plan.
Instead of hitting the snooze alarm, this coaching client determined he would replace that time with a morning workout. That one step had overarching benefits that extended well beyond his physical well-being.
But he knew he needed one more step.
Establish an Accountability Partner
If you have ever gone on a “diet,” you know that willpower has its limitations. It’s been proven that those who have a trainer stay in the game and get better results.
Do we have the ability to change habits and reach goals on our own? Of course, we do. But we are also human. The truth is we love potato chips, and we don’t like to exercise. Sitting on the couch and eating chips is “comfortable.”
This is why you need an accountability partner – you need someone to supportively kick you off the couch.
When I started getting texts, emails, and pictures from this client showing his new habits, I knew he was on a strong path to success. He was being accountable for his actions.
I challenge you this week to ask yourself what one bad habit is affecting your productivity, your energy, and your values. Take an honest assessment…then take action! You will be amazed at the results.
Dave Ferguson is “The Leaders’ Coach”, an internationally recognized executive leadership coach, speaker, facilitator, and author. Are you interested in talking to Dave about coaching or having Dave speak to inspire and motivate your team? “ASK COACH DAVE” at 704-907-0171 or at Dave@AskCoachDave.com.