Changing Habits

Changing Habits Is A Campaign, Not An Event – Better! Results Tip #13

Several years ago, my speaking coach asked me to bring what he called ‘game tape’ to our next meeting. So I looked through the video recordings in my files from recent keynote presentations, and picked the one I thought was best. Two cameras, full lights, great stage in Las Vegas, and about 600 in the high-energy audience.

At our next coaching session, he loaded the disk into the DVD player, adjusted the sound, and we sat back to watch.

Six minutes in, he stopped the video and gave me the feedback I wasn’t expecting. “I can’t take it any more!”

After remembering that I was paying my results coach for no frills advice, I swallowed my pride and asked him what was wrong.

He smiled and pointed out three specific distracting habits I didn’t even know I had. Yet he saw them right away (and now I did, too).

The good news: they were only subconscious behavior habits. Things I could control 100% and could adjust immediately when I present. And I told him so.

His reply, “No you can’t. You’ve built these habits over 25 years, and thousands of live presentations and practice sessions. It will take at least a year of concentrated effort to un-do and replace them. You’re going to need a system of reminders and you’ll be leaning on these reminders every day until new Better! Habits overlay the old.” In short:

Fixing flawed and broken habits

is a campaign, not an event.

And he was right. It took a year, and I still fall back into those old distracting behaviors if I don’t pay active attention when I present.

Better! Habits Action Suggestion

  • Give yourself the gift of one minute of focused thought right now.
  • Pick one habit you KNOW you bring to your work that’s holding you back.
  • State that habit specifically – with precision and clarity.
  • Now think of one cheat-sheet idea that you can use to remind you every day about the habit you’re working to replace. A laminated card in your pocket. Wear your watch on the opposite wrist so that it feels funny and you remember why it’s there. Post-It Notes in strategic places where you work – so that you see them every few minutes and are reminded dozens of times each day.

Work on that one habit you’re trying to replace. Not two or three. One. And work that change like the campaign it is. Every day for as long as it takes to become your new muscle memory and normal way of doing things.

 


John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events. Throughout his 38-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”