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Trading Up: How to Trade a Bad Habit for a Healthier One

Struggling with dropping a bad habit? Wondering how to keep the change permanent? The good news is that there’s a simple way to achieve both: Trade Up. Let’s dive into how you can begin trading up from bad habits to good ones that will help you lead a healthier, more productive life at home and at work.

When it comes to changing culture, improving performance, or just growing into a better version of yourself everyday, one of the simplest ways to make progress is to come up with two lists: a Start Doing list and a Stop Doing list.

It’s fairly self-explanatory, but a “Start Doing” list consists of writing down a few actions, behaviors, routines, etc. that you want to begin doing. These are things that will help you become healthier (eating healthier), more productive (actually using your CRM system), more present with family and co-workers (using GiANT’s “5 Gears” system), or more liberating in your leadership (setting intentional times to invest in employees).

However, as much as we all keep an informal tally of things we should be doing, it’s just as important to build a list of things we could benefit from by no longer doing them. Now, a “Stop Doing” list isn’t about guilt or perfectionism, but merely approaching the goal of living a healthier, more productive life from a different perspective. It’s a process of detoxifying our everyday routines to get rid of the harmful habits that undermine our influence, health, and productivity.

Finding the One Habit to Break

Today we’re going to focus on the Stop Doing list, then bring in the Start Doing list to round out a process we call “Trading Up.” The journey to breaking the habit begins with a simple baby step: choosing the one habit to break. Not 3, not 5, not 10. Start small and learn the process, then you can begin tackling a whole list of Start-doings and Stop-doings. That’s a bit more manageable, right?

Great! So, how do you actually decide which habit to target for detox? Here are a few questions to help you get thinking about your daily routines and pinpoint a habit you might be better off without:

  • What is keeping you from bringing your very best at home or at work?
  • Do you worry too much about things you cannot control?
  • At times do you tend to speak badly about people rather than speaking to them directly?
  • Is there a vice in your life that is helping you be lazy?

We could go on with a million more questions, but you get the point. Reflect on your day-to-day activities and focus on figuring out which habit is keeping you from being at your best.

Trading Up: Create a New Rhythm

Once you have identified the one habit that most consistently or most deeply hinders your health, productivity, and influence, you must make a plan to address it. Change rarely happens through declarations of intent or “do-better-at-it” approaches that involve merely planning to just say “no” to the habit when the familiar action comes calling. Real, lasting change requires intentionality and a plan to confront not only the habit you need to get rid of, but also the triggers and barriers that either spark the habit or prevent you from saying “no” to it. Oftentimes, trading one habit for another is an easier solution than “going cold-turkey.”

For instance, some people struggle with the habit of smoking or biting their nails. When the urge occurs, try “trading up” to something less harmful or nerve-inducing, such as chewing gum or a mint. In fact, trading one thing for a better thing tends to provide the best strategy for breaking habits since it gives you an alternative to embrace rather than leaving a tempting void where the old habit used to be. At this point, you must create a new rhythm – a new habit. Based on research, the process typically takes 21-days to cement a new habit in place of the old.

Our Challenge to You

That’s where the intentionality part comes into play. If you simply take a reactionary, case-by-case approach, you are far less likely to maintain the new habit for the duration required to firmly solidify your new habit. However, if you adopt an intentional approach bolstered by a tangible, specific plan for managing triggers and removing obstacles, you will set yourself up with your best opportunity for success.

Armed with our earlier questions and a focused plan for “trading up,” our challenge to you would be to identify your one habit and then work on breaking it by the end of the year. Below is a quick summary of 4 steps you can take to break your One Habit:

  1. Identify the One Habit.
  2. Make a plan to trade up to something better when the urge hits you.
  3. Create a new rhythm for 21-days.
  4. Tell other people about it so you are accountable to others and to your word.

The mark of a true leader is someone who constantly seeks to renew their mind and grow in their own self-leadership first in order to bring their best to others.

Let’s get to work!

If you’re interested in learning more about how to trade up for healthier habits, we’re happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let us know!

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