Stuck in the Same Patterns and Habits

Submitted question this week via email: "How do I end up stuck in the same patterns and habits?  How do I start and keep habits I deeply want?  I keep falling off track."

By the way, if you have questions, feel free to email me at 

Learning new skills(action), and breaking old habits, is a process that takes time to create a new neural pathway in your brain.  It's like hacking your way through a jungle; it takes time, effort, and energy to reach your destination (or achieve your goal and master a new habit).  However, you reinforce that same neural pathway in your brain every time you do a new action.  As it is supported(celebrated, feels good), it becomes easier to fire up those neurons again, and thus, it becomes easier to do the thing.  The jungle is still dense, but it is a little easier to follow the same path you created yesterday, and every time you take that path, it becomes a bit clearer.  Eventually, the behavior may become so automatic that it requires no effort to follow that path.

Every time you take that new path instead of the old one, the new path gets a bit easier while the old path "grows over".

I have many follow-up questions to the submitted question.  I love being curious, diving deeper into what it is they want and what the barrier is or creating the "falling off track" pattern.

In a one-on-one coaching session, I would really understand what habit they want to establish and maintain.  If the answer needs to be clarified and defined, we will spend time creating a clear and determining what it is.  Frequently the language used with a brand new client is all the things they don't want anymore, but that's keeping them stuck, for that's what the brain will focus on, the things they don't want.  This is a thought habit.  If this is the start of the conversation, they are often tongue-tied, unable to articulate really what they want, often because this is all they know, a state of being in a mindset of focusing on what they don't want.  This must shift to begin to make meaningful, lasting change. 

Often when I first meet a client, they have not just one goal.  They have an idea that basically sums up a complete overhaul of their life and personality.  But what I know about myself and working with lots of clients over the years is as human beings we cannot change everything all at once.  A significant change, or even one small change, our brain, often triggers fear. 

Whatever the change or habit needs to be sustainable.

Actions that you sincerely want to be a part of your identity.  Daily habits have to be something you can show up and do every day, which often means making space for this in your life.  We can only keep adding more and more to our plate if we take something off., Or we can only grow new branches if we prune back the old branches. 

Often when I start working with a brand new client, the habits that we begin with seemingly sound silly or stupidly small.  It's starting someplace, seeing how it fits in their life, like a science experiment.  Seeing what time of day works well, adjusting, and keep adjusting until it fits right feels good, and most of all, we can celebrate success. 

For example, if you want to become an avid reader, you may start reading one page daily.  It doesn't mean you just read one page a day and stop.  It's seeing the task as easy, simple, and doable.  If your goal is to read a chapter a day, that might load up thoughts of overwhelm, and days, weeks, or months may pass before even picking up the book.  

Or another example is if you want to walk more or be active, we may set the bar to putting the shoes on and walking for just five minutes.  It doesn't mean you walk five minutes a day; the hard part is finding the space in your day/life and time and putting the darn shoes on.  

I have experienced both of these examples in my own life and found that I mentally believed they are easy and straightforward, and I can do it, not much thought needed or entertained.  And once I get walking or reading, I almost always do more.  If I don't show up and do the minimum, I am proud that I showed up.  This further insulates that I stay true to my word, to myself.  This is important because if you broke your word to your friend daily, would they still be your friend?

Whatever it is, as a coach, client relationship, we create it together.

Whatever your goal, whatever the habit, it's something we agree to that's a start, and it must be something that you can do every single day even if you're sick, don't feel good, low on energy, or tired, what amounts to a starting small showing up feeling good about it being proud of yourself having a positive, healthy mindset about it.  A strong mindset can overcome the worst situations, even torture.  

Mindset and thinking positively about anything you're about to embark on or start is essential. 

Because if we have a negative story or belief about it or beat ourselves up about it because we didn't read that one page or walk five minutes that day, it's not sustainable.

Work with Katherine

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