What To Do With Habits that Refuse to Die

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Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

 

Shortly after his 90th birthday, my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Six weeks later, he passed away.

 

Knowing that our father was dying, I resolved that I wouldn’t argue with my brother about anything relating to our dad’s care and burial. We had argued over so many details when our mother died that I was determined we would do it “right” this time. I felt confident – after all, I coach people in how to handle difficult, stress-filled situations.

 

I was going to coach Peter and myself through this ordeal. . .

Ah, but I’d forgotten that old habits die hard!

 

Within an hour of my landing back in New Jersey, Peter and I were pressing each other’s buttons with ease. That is, until we looked each other in the eye and said “no – not this time.”

 

More than anything, we wanted to work together so as to be together for our father in his last days.

 

When Peter and I were growing up, our father always told us to “keep your eye on the ball, kid.”

 

Given that Peter and I never played sports, his advice made little sense! Eventually, we figured out he was quoting some famous sports person (still don’t know who) and what he was trying to say was that if you stay focused on what you want, you can have it.

 

Sitting by our father’s side in the nursing home, Peter and I kept our “eye” on the ball, supporting our father and each other in all ways caring.

 

While old habits may never die, this time they did not take hold as in times past. What happened?  Peter & I were able to laugh at our own selves and at each other.

 

“You know you’re being controlling, don’t you?” 

“No, I’m not!” 

“Then, what do you call it?” 

Pause.

“Controlling!”

 

We didn’t allow old rituals to stranglehold us. We quickly (okay, “somewhat” quickly) caught ourselves when we fell into old patterns and moved on to a more honest, more engaging place.

Old habits may die hard or they may never die.

 

The real issue, though, is this – we can change our relationship with old habits of talking and relating.

 

Awareness + desire = change

Well, actually, awareness + desire + skill + practice = change.

 

Here are some questions to help you become more aware of the rituals that trip you up at work and in your personal life:

 

  • What is a recurring situation in which you respond in familiar, knee-jerk fashion?
  • What triggers are being pressed?
  • If the old ways of responding are not working for you, why do you persist in using those ways?
  • What would you like to see happen differently?
  • What would you have to do for that “different” to happen?
  • What’s holding you back from doing that “different”?
  • What can you start doing to make it easier for you to do what you want to do?

 

Remember

Old habits have only as much power and control as we give them!

 

Do you want to learn how to confidently break the old habits that keep tripping you up –

so as to develop and nurture successful professional relationships?

 

To explore how business skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence – and joy

please contact me

  [email protected]

818-415-8115

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