“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”

—Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

Image of the USS Nimitz anchor

Image of USS Nimitz anchor from wikimedia

The USS Nimitz aircraft carrier needed some maintenance a few years ago. As part of this effort, the crew had to move its 60,000 pound anchor, and its 57-link chain. Each link weighs 350 pounds. Doing the math, each 90-foot “shot” of chain weighs about 20,000 pounds! By the way, it takes twelve “shots” collectively to hold this anchor.

What are the heavy chains of habit you have yet to break? Consider past New Year’s resolutions that started with enthusiasm and petered out come February.

The good news in that, as in the case with the Nimitz, when the crew came together they were able to move the heavy chains and anchor to get the job done. So can we.

EXERCISE:

Who are the supportive and helpful crew members on your personal and professional ships? How can they help you notice and become more aware of your habits early on, when they aren’t so heavy a burden?

Make today so awesome that yesterday is jealous

“Make today so awesome that yesterday is jealous.”

—Author Unknown

Most mornings when I work out, if I’m not chatting with one of my fitness friends, I find myself watching ESPN’s Sports Center. I particularly look forward to the show’s Top 10 Plays of the Day, to see the awesome feats of athletic excellence.

Consider your life a sport. What awesome events and experiences would make your Top Ten list for this week, this month, and this year?

If your list is not quite as awesome as you would like, you are not alone. On a day-to-day basis, we all get caught up in our routines and habits. One day seems to run into the next, with few, if any, highlights.

EXERCISE:

How can and will you step up the level of awesomeness today, and perhaps make this effort a new habit, to make all of your yesterdays jealous?

Do Not Bite at the Bait of Pleasure

“Do not bite at the bait of pleasure till you know there is no hook beneath it.”

—Thomas Jefferson (Letter to Maria Cosway, October 1786)

Image of a brightly colored fish with an open mouth

Image from Unsplash by yu tang

Pleasure seeking and pain avoidance are two of the biggest drivers for most people.
Take a look for yourself at a typical day or maybe a full week to see just how true this may be for you.

Dig deep into your daily habits and rituals at home and work to explore your behaviors in the morning, mid-day, and into the evening. How do your habits and rituals differ heading into the weekend or even as you engage in the holidays and vacation time?

EXERCISE:

Generate a list of 5-10 behaviors or habits that have a considerable downside or hook beneath their initial pleasure. How would reducing or eliminating one or two make a meaningful difference in your life?

First we Form Habits

“First we form habits, then they form us.”

—Jim Rohn, late American Motivational Speaker

image of The Power of Habit Book Cover

How much do you like yourself?

To what degree do you give yourself the seal of approval for who you are and what you do?

These questions are intended to gain an objective perspective on your current habits because in many ways, we are our habits for both better or worse.

One way to get a clearer picture of your own habits is to observe others in your personal and professional communities. Who do you admire and respect? What habits do they exemplify in their daily pursuits?

Conversely, who are the people you dislike or feel critical toward? What habits do they have that cause you to feel this way?

EXERCISE:

What is a bad habit you want to eliminate or replace with a good habit? Which of your good habits could be even better?

Consider reading Charles Duhigg’s 2012 book, The Power of Habit, to help you form yourself into the person you aspire to be.

Leave the familiar

“Leave the familiar for a while. Change rooms in your mind for a day.”

—Hafiz, 14th Century Persian Poet

Image of a small boy walking on the beach

Image from Unsplash by Andre Mohamed

One of my favorite quotes is, “When patterns are broken, new worlds will emerge,” by Tuli Kupferberg. In a nutshell, it points to a primary reason the coaching process works to support all kinds of professional and personal change initiatives.

Unfortunately, this can be quite difficult due to entrenched ways of thinking and acting that have become habituated over many years.

The good news, supported through today’s quote, is that we all can begin to grow and change by taking baby steps rather than quantum leaps, to better our worlds.

EXERCISE:

Experiment today by intentionally deviating from the familiar in your thoughts and actions. Please consider replying to this post regarding what occurs when you change things up a bit.

The Gist of New Years Day

“The gist of New Year’s Day is: Try Again.”

Frank Crane, 20th Century American Film Director

Image of a woman holding a calendar

Image from Unsplash by Brooke Lark

If you ever established a New Year’s Resolution and came up short, you are not alone.

Statistics show over 90% of people have the same experience.

Studies have shown that even when doctors tell heart patients they will die if they don’t change their habits, only one in seven will be able to follow through successfully.

It appears that desire and motivation aren’t enough, even when it is literally a matter of life or death.

It is also clear that the status quo has a pretty tight grip on what Roger Kegan calls The Immunity to Change.

What patterns of thinking and doing would have your “Try Again” efforts work this time?

EXERCISE:

Beyond limiting your focus on fewer priority objectives, consider adding a wide variety of social and structural supports to bolster your motivation and ability to succeed this time.

For everything you have missed you have gained something else

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, 19th Century American Essayist

Book Cover Image

I have some bad news.

You can’t have it all, despite what the media and marketing industry tells you.

I also have an abiding faith that you can have many of the things you deeply desire if you recognize and embrace the concept John Maxwell calls the “Law of Trade-offs.”

As an example, I am an early-to-bed-early-to-rise kind of guy. Given this habit, I fully recognize that I miss late-night events many people relish for their daily efforts. What I gain is the rest and added vitality to wake up refreshed, go to the health club, and be fully present to the clients I am committed to serving.

EXERCISE:

Where can you apply the Law of Trade-offs to intentionally choose things you are willing to miss in order to gain even more of the things you value?

The Empire of Habit

“Powerful indeed is the Empire of Habit.”

—Publilius Syrus, ancient Syrian writer 42 BCE

Image of "Small Move, Big Change" book Cover

I wonder if Publilius Syrus was an influence in the creation of Yoda in the Star Wars series. Today’s quote sure sounds like a Yoda-ism!

Take a moment to examine your personal and professional empires. How satisfied, fulfilled, and generally happy are you in regards to what you have built through your daily habits?

How are things looking regarding your health, relationships, career, finances, community engagement, and spiritual pursuits?

If you are falling short of the mark, examine your current habits, which are the key to over 90% of our lives.

EXERCISE:

Daily microresolutions can help set you on a more successful course. You can learn about microresolutions through the work of Caroline Arnold and her book, Small Move, Big Change.

Are you following a path or blazing one

“Are you following a path, or blazing one?”

-Michael Bungay Stanier, Sr. Partner of Box of Crayons

Image of a path in the forest

Image from Flickr by Vinoth Chandar

We are all creatures of habit. Just take a look at a typical day to explore all of the routines and rituals that engage your time.

The good news is that habits are often extremely helpful in that they usually provide us the necessary momentum to pursue and achieve many of our goals.

On the other hand, new goals that we passionately desire rarely come to fruition because we continue to follow our current path, using familiar strategies and tactics.

EXERCISE:

Where and on what personal or professional goals is blazing a path the thing to do to achieve what you most desire? What new and different behaviors and attitudes will be required to do so?

Invest in Knowledge

“If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the highest return.”

—Benjamin Franklin, American Founding Father

A client recently shared with me a book titled Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals by Tom Corley.

From Corley’s years of research into hundreds of rich and poor people, I learned that of the wealthiest people:

  • 88% read for 30 minutes or more each day.
  • 63% listen to audio-books during their commute.
  • 94% read about current events.
  • 50%+ read biographies of successful people.

In contrast, only about one in fifty of those struggling financially engaged in daily self-improvement reading.

EXERCISE:

How can and will you invest the time and resources in your personal and professional development efforts to lead an even more richly rewarding life?