Last week I posted a personal development riddle and promised to give the answer today — along with some tips for making it work for you instead of against you.
I must say, all the answers were great, and could certainly apply (as I’ll explain in a minute).
But the answer that the author of the riddle had in mind is “habit”.
Habits can be good, or habits can be bad. They can empower you, or they can bring you down. As one commenter said: “First, you make your habits. Then, they make you.”
Two people got that answer: Tara Needham and Mark Kemp. Because of that, I decided to give an unannounced prize of a little plug for each of them.
I’ve actually used Tara’s services; she’s a transcriptionist, and an excellent one at that. I’ve used a lot of transcriptionists for interviews, and I’ve been frustrated with the inaccuracies from many of them.
Tara has a great attention to detail, so if you do interviews or other audios for teleseminars, podcasts, webinars, or info products, and want to increase the value of your offering by including transcripts (or making it into a book), see what Transcription Team can do for you.
I’d never met or heard of Mark before, but his website sells unique gifts: recordings of messages from loved ones, burned onto CD, for a special occasion (wedding, birthday, anniversary, graduation, or whatever you want to commemorate).
I remember a few years ago a marketing brethren was hospitalized with a brain aneurysm, and some of us did something similar in a makeshift way; apparently hearing all our voices helped his spirits and memory. So this could be pretty powerful: check out Priceless Memories to record friends’ and family members’ voices for presentation and posterity.
Now, about those other answers, and some tips for making habit your friend…
The other answers I got were “beliefs,” “mindset,” “subconscious mind,” “intuition,” and “me.” All very profound, and great guesses.
Now, “me” might seem too basic at first; “My constant companion is me” goes without saying. But it also covers all the other answers, because we are made up of all that. The “me” that we are is a combination of our mind, body and spirit. So yes, it is true… and I think the emphasis in that answer was on the non-physical “mind and spirit” part, as were all the other answers.
How do they relate to habit?
Our beliefs form our habits. If you believe that “it takes money to make money,” you’ll avoid any opportunity that doesn’t — such as one that requires creativity instead. But if you believe the opposite, you’ll build a habit of looking for ways to use your creative side.
If you believe it’s impossible to get in shape if you’re over 40, you’ll refuse to work out. If you believe it’s very much possible, you’ll create a habit of doing fun exercises and eating healthy foods.
Our mindset feeds our habits. If you have a lazy mindset, you might choose to lie on the couch watching soap operas instead of starting an eBay store to sell your homemade funky knitted scarves… which could be just as much fun, not to mention much more profitable.
Our subconscious mind creates our habits. You could say that mindset is from the conscious mind, and beliefs can reside in either the conscious or subconscious mind; but the subconscious mind certainly is responsible for many habits. Ever notice how a smoker will absentmindedly light up without even knowing it? They don’t believe it’s good or healthy, and they don’t have an unhealthy mindset; it’s simply a subconscious habit (whether or not it’s a physical addiction pushing that subconscious habit is often debatable).
Our intuition can steer our habits. If you learn to listen to your intuition, chances are it will steer you toward healthy, empowering, good habits rather than unhealthy, limiting, bad habits. So for the most part, I see that as affecting the positive aspects of the riddle. But, I suppose, if you don’t listen to your intuition — as many of us don’t — then you can find yourself on the negative side of the coin.
Anyhow, I was really pleased and impressed with all the answers. Thank you to those who took part!
Now, here are some ways you can make habits work for you and empower you:
Replace a bad habit with a good habit. If you smoke because you’re orally fixated, put a carrot stick in your mouth instead. If you eat ice cream after every dinner, substitute yogurt, which can be every bit as satisfying and delicious (seriously!) Always pick a new habit that’s attractive enough to stick with, or this technique won’t work.
Some say it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, and others say it takes 30, but either way… you should be able to instill a new one within this time frame if you’re consistent.
Avoid temptation. If you know you have no ability to drive past McDonald’s without stopping for some fries, take another route home. Out of sight, out of mind. However, if you can be happy with just a small bag of fries instead of the large combo you used to order, that could be a valid substitution.
Reward yourself. Come up with something you like that’s not related to the habit you’re trying to break (obviously, don’t use chocolate if you’re trying to avoid sweets), and give yourself the treat when you’re successful to keep your motivation going.
Use a trigger. I’m pretty sure this trick comes from NLP: when you find the urge to do something habitual that you’re trying to break, do something like snapping your fingers, clapping your hands, or even taking a deep breath. That should help you avoid the old pattern and go for the new one instead.
Write it down. Often committing something to paper helps us both define it, and make it happen, whether that’s a goal, dream, desire, or new habit. Use a journal if you like, or stick a note paper up somewhere you’ll see it often.
Limit your indulgences. If you’re trying to break a TV-watching habit, don’t do it cold-turkey; but only let yourself watch between 6 and 7 p.m., for instance. Or only smoke if it’s on a “special” uncomfortable stool, between a certain time frame.
Make it public. You’ll be less likely to be okay with failing if your friends, family or Twitter followers know about it. Give a friend $100 that they’ll return to you in a month, but only if you break the bad habit… or publicly announce that you’ll give something away, shave your head, or instill some other penalty if you can’t make it happen.
Get a coach. Okay, it doesn’t have to be a hired professional; you just need somebody that cares about you to encourage you when you’re succeeding, and gently remind you when you fail. It also helps if that person has broken a bad habit of their own (maybe the same one) so they can offer you insight and guidance.
It takes a little work, and a bit (or a lot) of determination, but so does anything worthwhile. If you truly want to turn bad habits into good, and join the ranks of the truly successful, you can do it.
By the way, if you’re looking to build new financial habits, and could use some good guidance from investigators who have been there, done that, and know how to help you… The Wealth Vault can be instrumental in making it happen.
Keep Unwrapping Your Success!