“To change ourselves effectively,
we first had to change our perceptions.”
― Stephen R. Covey,
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Habits have a way of holding a person back from living their dream.
A couple of years ago a woman came to me because she had been dreaming for years about opening a business. Whenever she thought about taking action on her dream, she had 2 problems that held her back: no spare time and short of money. She would swear to starting saving, but each week it was her habit to shop for clothes, shoes or something for her house.
Although she looked great, this obsessive shopping was working against her desires for a better future. “How can I break this bad habit?” she asked with tears in her eyes. She felt out of control. In her mind, she was “the type of person that couldn’t pass up a good deal”. Her self-worth and self-image were caused by her self-beliefs.
We worked together on changing her beliefs and how she identified with them so that she would be able to change her habit.
Her previous attempts to save money were failed because they involved sacrifice. She was trying to throw all her willpower at fixing a problem. When those attempts failed, she felt even worse about herself, which led to an even bigger shopping spree.
Rather than sacrificing or using brute willpower, beliefs are changed through the acceptance of new ideas. It’s simply a matter of raising awareness and making a choice.
My recommendation to her was to read a book that I first read back in the mid-70’s, which had a profound impact on me. I’ve re-read it many times over the years. The book, Psycho-Cybernetics, authored by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, is a guide to changing your beliefs.
I first heard about it when I was starting out in my sales career. As soon as a friend told me about it, I studied the book daily and used the ideas in changing some of my own beliefs. That book played a huge role in my successful career in sales.
Dr. Maltz was a cosmetic surgeon and he realized the power of limiting self-beliefs with many of his patients. Each one of them were certain if their physical issue was fixed, their confidence would change allowing them to achieve anything from a better job to marriage or even fame.
However, Maltz quickly found that changing the physical image did nothing to change the psychological viewpoint. Some of the patients were so stuck in their self-beliefs, thought patterns, they couldn’t even see a difference in their before and after physical image. When Dr. Maltz began helping people to change their self-beliefs, they actually made progress in changing their lives.
His book has assisted over 30,000,000 people and it can help you change any area of your life.
I remember using the ideas in the book to quit smoking. Initially I was using the sacrifice and willpower method that somehow get me through the day, but once I went home and relaxed, all my resolve went out the window. After 2 weeks of doing this, I realized that I was looking at myself in the wrong way. You see; I saw myself as a smoker struggling to quit.
Whether it’s trimming down your size, getting out of debt, quitting smoking, eliminating coffee or whatever, these new habits all begin with a change in how you see yourself. When I started looking at myself as a non-smoker, it became easy. Who I was with and how I spent my time changed as non-smokers don’t hang out with smokers. Any temptation was completely removed as there were no reminders.
Each day my new identity as a non-smoker increased. As Maltz says, this isn’t a “fake it ’til you make it” approach. It’s based on your belief and you know you can do it. Then it’s just a matter of time to turn that into a new self-image.
This is the first step to make a dramatic change in your habits with ease. Every positive new habit begins with the belief that you can do it.
When this woman started looking at herself as a saver instead of a crazed, out of control shopper, things changed for her. Once she changed her belief, she began to see other benefits. As she was now spending less time in the shops, she decided to enroll in my course on how to start a business.
By becoming a saver and learning more about starting a business, she soon saw herself as a businesswoman and within 6 months, she started her first business. Belief comes from behavior. It all started with her belief in herself. And that’s where your better behaviors will start, too.
Susan Bagyura, a leadership coach and Amazon best-selling author, works with leaders to create healthy, sustainable businesses by inspiring success from the top down.