How to Break Bad Habits: The Samurai Way

how to break a habit

Last week on my way to a networking event downtown, I found myself observing the behavior of passerby’s. As I made my way to the hotel that morning I saw the exodus of people from the train station slowly making their way to their offices. Some were smiling, others expressionless, nevertheless to many just an another day at the office.

As I thought about it, I wondered how many of these people did something different or will do something different that day? I bet most will go through the day on auto pilot, fumbling through the same routine they have done for years. There are a few who strive for excellence each day. They make it mission in life to do something each to be worth remembering such as showing ownership of their job at the office, or creating a difference in the world.

Research studies reveal that 90% of our behavior is habitual. Yes, that is correct! That means from the time you get up in the morning until you hit the sack again, there are hundreds of things you’ve repeated year in year out. You take the same route to work, you dress the same, you buy your coffee at the same store each day, or socialize with the same circles.

These habits have been firmly entrenched in you for years, it is a ritual you have turned into a routine to help you get to your current level in life. Creating a habit frees up mental capacity allowing you to operate day to day without thinking. For example, your drive to work barring traffic is probably pretty straight forward. You know the exact route to take, you know the busy intersections to avoid, and you don’t require a GPS. On most, days it’s stress free.

Now let me ask you this question, what happens when there is a traffic accident or construction you were not expecting along the way? How do you or the majority of people react? Probably cursing or stressing out. Why? It’s because your daily habit that you’ve become so comfortable with has now been turned upside down, literally taking you out of your comfort zone.

Having habits is great for freeing up mental space to think about other things but it is also works against you if it’s a bad habit. Many of our habits have created our situation in life. Let’s take for example your income. If you’re a constant complainer at work, unmotivated to put your best effort forward each day, you cannot complain about why you haven’t achieved financial success. It is your own doing that got you to where you are.

Successful people such as CEO’s, high performing athletes, or business people are constantly re-evaluating their decisions every day in order to continually push themselves to the next level. They never rely on yesterday’s successes. In fact, every day they seek out challenges which will give them an edge over others who mire in mediocrity.

When I’m leading a class through new techniques at the dojo, I noticed these two traits that are present in the students. The first type is constantly challenging themselves each class, asking questions, seeking out the toughest students who will push them not stroke their ego. The ones who find greatness inside and outside of the school apply the principle of correcting their bad habits, and replacing them with new positive ones. Most importantly they accept being uncomfortable for a while because they know in the end it will reward them for their efforts, transcending their game to a level of excellence.

Now understand that there are students who are also good but they on work on the habits that just keep them slightly above the mediocre. In team sports we call those people role players. They are great at one thing, but never the one counted on to carry a team when it matters the most.  To be truly great, you need to flush out ALL your bad habits, working them until new good habits replace them.

The greatest ones in anything in life are always honest and true to themselves. They never let success put blinders on them because they know greatness is an ongoing process. For that they are in constant motion towards personal excellence. They become well rounded competitors not one trick ponies. They are the superstars on the team.

If you are not happy with the results in your life, it’s time to re-examine how you are currently approach things in life. Which habits are holding you back from becoming your best? Repeating the same series of habits over the years have not helped you get to the level of success you desire so let’s change that today.

I would like you to pick one new success ritual to implement for the next 90 days. Researchers discovered if you stick with a new ritual for 90 days you will have made this habit a part of your life forever. The habit doesn’t have to be big, just go out and execute it.

Here are some examples…

• Make 10 sales cold calls a day
• Meet one new interesting person everyday
• Smile more
• Meditate for 5 minutes a day
• Start returning phone calls
• Stop wasting time watching TV, instead read a book and learn something new

Create 4 new habits every 90 days for the year. Just think of all the great success you will have after 5 years! That would be 20 new positive habits! How would that impact your life and the people around you?

You have one life to live, make it a work of art you can be proud of. Make it monumental.

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