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How to Develop Good Habits that Propel You to Success

by Pamela Dunn
High Performance/Business Coach, Professional Speaker
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Did you know that 90 percent of our normal behavior is based on habits?

Most people don’t consider the significance of their habits. But they should because habits determine your future … your level of success.

A habit is something you do over and over again. Eventually, your repetitive actions become easy and automatic. Take, for example, learning to drive a car with a standard gearshift. At first, it can be difficult managing to synchronize the clutch with the accelerator so you don’t jerk or let the engine die. But with practice, you learn to change gear smoothly. And eventually, you can do it without even thinking about it.

You can change bad habits!

Your habits are a product of your environment. Fortunately, you can reprogram yourself and change bad habits into good ones. But be prepared to be patient. It can take days or weeks to break a bad habit, depending on how long you’ve had it. There’s an old saying that it can take 21 days to break a habit. However, I’ve found with my clients that if you’re really determined you can change it a lot faster - even in a day!

Here’s a list of bad habits people commonly have. Do you have any of these habits?

  • Not returning phone calls
  • Being late for meetings and appointments
  • Not attending to paperwork quickly and efficiently
  • Allowing bills to go unpaid, resulting in late penalties
  • Talking instead of listening
  • Taking home work with you
  • Not taking enough time off for family and fun – guilt-free
  • Procrastinating about everything
  • Not spending enough time with your children
  • Forgetting someone’s name within 60 seconds of being introduced

How to change your habits
So how do you successfully change a habit? Using smokers as an example, here’s a simple, step-by-step formula to help you:

  1. Clearly define your unproductive habits- You must think about the consequences of your bad habit. The impact of smoking may not show up today, tomorrow or next month, but it will certainly impact you years down the road.
  2. Define your new successful habit - Motivate yourself by thinking of all the benefits and rewards for adopting your new successful habit. You will have better health and feel more physically fit.
  3. Create a three-part action plan – Apply three steps that can help you stick to your new habit. A smoker, for example, could use hypnosis therapy, healthy snacks and exercise to help kick cigarettes.

Here’s another example, using one of my clients we’ll call "Tom".

  1. Unproductive habits - Tom was in sales and wanted to start calling a list of leads to generate more business. But he allowed interruptions, procrastination and lack of focus to prevent him from reaching this goal. If his behavior continued, his financial well-being would suffer.
  2. New successful habit – If Tom became more focused and consistent with his prospecting, he would make more money.
  3. Three-part action plan – Tom obtained a target list of people to call. He blocked out two hours every morning to contact them before he became sidetracked by other tasks. He also asked his assistant not to interrupt him with non-urgent matters during his cold calling time.

Once you stop a bad habit, you must replace it with another habit for it to become your new normal behavior. Remember this saying: “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.”

But by systematically improving one behavior at a time, you can dramatically improve your overall lifestyle. This can include anything: your health, income and relationships. So start working on your bad habits today!


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