The term “breaking a habit” is such a part of our culture that it seems an upstream swim to semantically take it on, but I like a good swim.
I answered a query this morning about the best way to break a habit. Here’s what I said:
“Broken habits repair themselves. Habits outgrown leave town for good.”
Broken habits suggest willpower which is the weakest agent for change on the planet. It’s a sprinter in a marathon world.
President Obama admitted recently that he still smokes occasionally. Putting your politics aside for a moment, I think most would agree that he’s a pretty bright guy with a lot of discipline. His brilliance and his willpower aren’t enough to break his habit.
If he’s like the hundreds of thousands of smokers I have presented my seminars to, he’s made extraordinary willpower attempts in the past to break the habit. I wonder how likely he is to grow out his hair like he wore it as a teenager. He’d probably laugh at the suggestion. He won’t be doing that because he’s outgrown the pattern. It doesn’t make sense to him anymore.
When you outgrow something, the gravitational pull is suspended and your habit floats away.
Here comes my broken record message again: Noticing a habit, while you are in the middle of it, is the routine that puts you at the doorstep of change.
Replication of this noticing routine weakens the hold of the pattern and presents the opportunity to grow into a new way.
Outgrowing the old way and growing into a new way is a process. It may look like a break for someone who makes a permanent change quickly like we see in hypnosis, but upon deeper inspection it’s a progression from the old to the new.
Outgrown habits are like faded memories – they just don’t have the allure to attract us anymore.
Think of anything that you’ve outgrown, and in retrospect, you’ll notice the process. More to the point, you know at the deepest level that it doesn’t make sense to you anymore. It’s no longer important.
If the quality of your life is being interfered with by a recurring routine, it’s time to take notice. The more often you notice, the less likely you are to repair a broken habit.
All the best,
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