Changing Bad Habits: Obstacles and Dealing With Them

If you’re running your own business, or making preparations to, then trying to change your bad habits can seem like something that isn’t urgent and that can always be dealt with later. This is one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make! Leaving your bad habits on the back-burner has a huge impact on how successfully you get your work done and how effectively you manage your company. It’s because of this that getting a more in-depth understanding of your obstacles and how to deal with them is of the utmost importance.  Your success in business is the extent of your good habits vs your bad habits,.

Why Are Habits So Hard To Break?

If you think you’re the only one having a hard time making the necessary changes in your life, think again! Don’t let the resistance you face get you down, it’s actually a completely natural and exceedingly common issue that can be explained by a process called homoeostasis.

Homoeostasis refers to the control of the conditions within your body. The function of this process is to maintain a consistent internal environment by controlling and limiting the impact of external influences on the desired “normal” conditions. For example, if your glucose levels are too high, your pancreas will secrete insulin to absorb the excess glucose in order for your body to return to its optimal condition. Physiologically, we need homoeostasis to survive; psychologically though, it can pose major limits on what we are able to achieve in life.

How Homoeostasis Can Affect The Success Of Your Business

As an entrepreneur, you’re bound to have many firsts – you’re highly unlikely to be fully prepared and ready for every single situation that may arise! Your new experiences will require that you adapt and change some of your negative habits in order to succeed in this new chapter of your life – you want to be able to change, and yet, homoeostasis will result in you staying stagnant and inflexible.

Any successful entrepreneur will tell you, the ability to change and adapt is a crucial element to achieving success. For example, if one of your daily habits is sleeping in and having a late breakfast, imagine the state you’ll be in at an early morning meeting with your employees! Fortunately, the many success stories available for us to see today, show that bad habits can indeed be changed and that the bonds of homoeostasis can in fact be broken!

The Five Phases Of Habit Change

No matter what habit you’re trying to change, research shows that in order to successfully do so, you’re likely to go through five main phases. The psychology behind the five phases dates back to the 1980s and is still being used today in a wide range of behavioural studies. The method was created when researchers at the University of Rhode Island, James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente, examined the way habits and addiction affected smokers. They created the Stages Of Change (SOC) model based on the idea that it does not take just one simple step to change habits, but rather that it requires the five phases below:

1. Precontemplation:
At this stage you may not even be aware that you have a self-sabotaging problem, and even if you are, you may be uninformed about how it truly affects your personal and professional life. You may even think that other people are simply over-exaggerating the problem. People in this stage usually experience the “Four R’s”, Reluctance, Rebellion, Resignation and Rationalisation.

2. Contemplation:
People at this stage are aware of their bad habits but are still ambivalent about whether they really need to change or not – an honest self re-evaluation needs to take place. This phase usually lasts a relatively long time because this is where you may be considering the pros and cons of changing your habits, and what such a change could mean.

3. Preparation:
If you’re finally ready to make a change, then you’re in the preparation phase! By now you’ll probably have some sort of plan for action and will likely benefit from an action-oriented program, whether it’s joining a new health club or seeking professional productivity advice.

4. Action:
This is the phase in which you actually implement your plans. Here people usually work on reinforcement management (for example, discovering the rewards that encourage specific behavioural patterns) and stimulus control (this usually involves identifying habit cues and either changing or eliminating them).

5. Maintenance:
At this stage your main focus is on maintaining your new habits and making sure that you do not relapse into your old ones. This can involve continuously working on your mindset and implementing various productivity techniques.

Placing yourself in the above stages is a great way to keep track of your progress and to get a better understanding of what exactly you’re experiencing and how best to cope with the challenges.

From Precontemplation To Transcendence – It Really Is Possible!

Do you identify with any of the above stages? What’s important to keep in mind is that these five phases do not always go so smoothly, expect that. The SOC model actually considers relapse to be normal and expected – you’re more likely to experience a habit relapse than not to. How you deal with the relapse however, is what matters – it is crucial that you do not feel too discouraged to make any further attempts at change!

Once you go through the above stages and manage to break down the barriers of homoeostasis and to loosen the control that it has over you, you’ll finally be able to achieve what the SOC model refers to as “Termination” or “Transcendence” – these are stages in which you’ll achieve self-efficacy and your newly learned habits will become second nature. The journey from Precontemplation to Transcendence won’t be easy, but it’ll definitely be worth it!

Here are some of the habits you want to adopt for productivity

To your Success

Kirstin ODonovan

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