THE BLOG

Breaking Bad Habits

09/05/2013 05:31 pm ET | Updated Nov 05, 2013

What's stopping you from achieving your dreams? Is there some habit or behavior that you keep repeating and all the while continually complaining about it? There is strength in recognizing our weaknesses and power in changing them. If you want to make a serious change in your life for the better, identify your so-called "bad habits."

For some, when the pain gets too intense, the loss too great or they can no longer tolerate a situation, then they'll do something about it. I get like that when I hear myself whining and complaining about the same old thing over and over. That's when I must make a change. The more I can't stand something the more motivated I am to change it.

So being honest with ourselves is an essential first step. When I coach people on the obstacles that may be slowing them down or even sabotaging their dreams, often it comes down to behaviors that can be easily corrected. But it begins with honestly assessing and recognizing what it is.

Common bad habits often include: over scheduling, over thinking, over analyzing. Other behaviors that may stop you include procrastination or never completing anything, saying yes when we mean no and vice versa. The next step is to choose to change or break the habit. Once you choose to change it, you can create a "personal practice" to help you.

A personal practice is something that you can easily do with the intention of changing or eliminating what no longer serves you. I also recommend these practices to develop or strengthen your "Achilles heel" or weak spot.

Here's an example. One of my clients is a talented artist who complained that she never had time to paint. She lamented that she couldn't stay focused and often felt distracted.

I suggested a simple practice where for one week, one hour every morning, whatever she was doing, she would complete before she moved on to something else. That meant if she was checking her email and the phone rang, she wouldn't answer it. At first she thought this was crazy and that this would stifle her creativity. Nonetheless, she agreed to give it a shot.

The first day she couldn't stay focused and was quite upset. The second day she noticed she was having all kinds of self-judgment, bailing and making the practice wrong. She questioned her own willpower, but even more than that, her own personal value and worth. Was her dream worth making a priority? By day three she lasted almost the full hour. By the end of the week, she was enjoying it. She claimed to be feeling freer and breathing a little easier.

She decided to expand this personal practice to 30 days. At the end of the month, she was receiving so much value from her new found clarity, that she expanded the length of her practice to the entire morning. Mornings are now office time and every afternoon becomes quality time to paint. After three months, she had completed more art then she had in the previous year. At the end of six months she had sold many new pieces. She was on track with her dream of being paid for doing what she loved. A little structure actually allowed for more creativity. That's often the case.

Here are three easy ways to break a bad habit you have been struggling with:

1. Identify what bad habit you are ready to transform.

2. Create a simple practice that you can do every day or a few times a week to stop the habit.

3. Recognize and celebrate your success, however small.

For a free Visionary Kit to help you achieve your dreams, click here.

For more by Marcia Wieder, click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.