On this ask Katrina, the question is:

“Katrina, how do I stop falling back into old habits?”

Isn’t this a timely question?

At this point in the new year, most individuals have been working hard trying to commit to their New Year’s resolutions. Habits have been top of mind this month.

Hopefully, you followed the plan we put out last month called “Preparation Season.”

If yes, then you’re trucking right along. You’ve got clarity and therefore momentum.

That type of planning is very different than New Year’s resolutions.

But let’s say that you made resolutions or say that you missed out on preparation season.

First, you can go back and listen to it now that will help you. Check out the first episode here.

Second, let’s answer the question about habits.

I have a few questions for you to help you find your answer.

First, what do you want to do that is very different than your old habit?

Why do you want to do this new action?

What and Why Are the Crux of Your Habits

You see, many times what happens is when we make a decision, and we focus on wanting to be or do something new, there are a couple of things that happen in that “want”, or that focus.

Number one, we say we want something, but we’re still not super clear. We have very little clarity on exactly what we want. It’s still sort of nebulous, it’s gray.

The problem here is that our “want” lacks detail but we actually don’t realize that’s the case. We actually think we have clarity, because we’ve called it out.

We said, “I want this!”

Think about it like this, “I want a new car.”

That feels really good, right?

I want a new car. Woohoo! I know what I want!

Well, we both know that there’s a whole lot more than just wanting a new car.

That statement is still extremely vague.

What kind of car do you want? What brand? Do you want an SUV? Do you want a sports car? Do you want a truck? What style of vehicle do you want? What color do you want? Does it need to have leather?

Just in this short exercise, you can see how vague this statement is. Yet this is the exact thing we do each time we think we have set a goal for ourselves that requires us to show up and be different and do different things.

This is part of the reason why we fail to create new habits. It’s because we don’t have clarity on exactly what that new habit needs to be.

Once we have clarity and specificity, the second part of this process comes in.

We must understand why we want this new habit, action, result, tangible item, relationship, etc. that we just clearly defined.

Why is it a must for you? Why must you have a new car?

You see, a lot of times we want to create new habits and break old habits, but our “why” for making the change isn’t big enough and it’s not clear either.

This means it’s going to be super easy to not adopt the new habit.

If we say I want a new car because a family member is sick and I must have reliable transportation to take him or her to the doctor every week, that is a big why, that’s much different than me simply wanting a new car because I’m bored with the car I have.

The point here is that your “why” must be big enough to make your change in behavior a must.

You must have a clear what, and you must have a clear “why” to change a habit.

That’s the case for any change we’re trying to make.

Whether we’re trying to make a new change and do something new, or trying to take make a change in order to stop doing something.

What we’re doing and why it’s a must, are two pieces that have to exist with clarity and specificity.

When we don’t have clarity on either or both of those other things, we’ll never understand how to make it happen.

That’s the other part of the problem. When we’re focused on breaking or making new habits most of us jump immediately to “How do I do it?”

Again, let’s go back to the car analogy. “I want a new car. how am I gonna get it?”

Well, you’re jumping to the end of the process. You’re trying to solve a problem that you haven’t clearly defined with the what and why.

Without the specifics, your brain can’t formulate the “how” because the problem you’re asking it to solve is too abstract and there is no motivation to solve it.

Then you get frustrated and overwhelmed, and you give up.

Do you see this now?

Once you find the what and the why the how is super easy.

Without the clarity and specificity of “what” and “why” we will not change.

So if you’re trying to figure out how to break a habit or keep a new habit, especially at the beginning of this year, get really clear on your what, get really clear on why it’s a must for you, and then define your how.

If you feel like you’ve missed the mark in January and are giving up on 2023 being your year, stop.

There are 11 more months left! You can start anytime you choose so just choose not to wait and apply what you have learned today and going forward.

It’s never too late!

If you’re a newly promoted, female corporate executive and you want support in creating new habits as a means of creating and strengthening your professional brand, schedule a call with the team and let us tell you how we can help you! Schedule a call here.