Welcome to the June edition of “A Year of Personal Branding“, where I’ve broken down key branding concepts as part of a month-by-month guide to help you with each step of growing (and implementing) your personal brand.
As always, I invite you to use these monthly Year of Personal Branding posts as a map that will allow you to navigate all aspects of Personal Branding.
This month we will be doing a little more de-cluttering, this time of the habits that are holding you back from achieving the personal brand you want. This could mean something like having one too many nights out drinking with friends and waking up feeling tired and “off your brand” the following day, or perhaps a habit like perfectionism that’s slowing you down or leading to procrastination.
Here are some ways to help yourself get unstuck:
- Awareness is half the battle. You may not need to do too much digging to be able to spot the obstacles in your daily life, but some habits are a bit trickier to uncover. Becoming more aware of these unhelpful habits (where they come from and what’s maintaining them) will go a long way in helping you change them. Of course, keep in mind that dropping such ingrained self-sabotaging habits often takes time and plenty of patience.
- Add competing habits. Breaking habits isn’t just about stopping but substituting. Think about what you can add in (vs. just dropping the habit). So, for example, if drinking with friends becomes too regular, an alternative may be to suggest doing something else instead. This could range from nights out at the cinema to even a walk or run if you’re keen to replace a bad habit with a healthier one. Things like procrastination or perfectionism may require a little more work on the front end, but even leaving things at a good standard (vs. perfect) to get the job done on time can become a habit if you consciously practice it. Check out my piece on perfectionism here along with some strategies for addressing it.
- Pay attention to cues or triggers, in other words, things that make you fall into familiar patterns. Take the example of that chocolate bar after lunch. One way to address this is to initially just wait a few seconds when you feel the urge and try to assess why this has become a habit. What is the habit addressing or associated with? For example, is it a sugar hit? The walk down to the canteen or shop so you can get away from your desk? Something to look forward to in the afternoon? Once you know you can start to do something about it – be it get some fruit from the canteen instead or reassess what you’re eating for lunch so you don’t experience a sugar drop in the afternoon. Needless to say, if what you are struggling to kick is readily available, the harder the habit will be to break. Make it as hard as possible to succumb to the habit. For example, you might want to walk the long way home to avoid that corner store!
- Get support (and go easy on yourself). Think about getting a gym buddy, or having someone you can call (to support your abstinence at a party for example), or an online forum you can access when you those old urges start to creep in. Of course if you feel like you’ve done all you can and are still struggling, consider seeking professional advice from someone like a mental health professional. At the same time, remember to be a support to yourself. Breaking habits can be extremely hard stuff and most people struggle with it. Be kind to yourself and don’t get too down on yourself if (when!) you slip. This type of work takes time and patience…and it will be easier with a little self-compassion in the mix. And give yourself loads of credit, remember you are taking action here to improve your life!
- Build, build, build. By focusing on building healthy habits, old unhealthy ones can often get crowded out. I’ve had some fantastic guest bloggers recently post on this very topic. For example, Jo Dodds of powertolivemore.com has some excellent strategies to help with creating productive habits, and Rachel McGuiness of www.wakeupwithzest.com shares some great ideas for implementing good habits to boost your health. It will of course take time for new patterns to replace the old. So keep building and keep at it…patience and persistence is the name of the game here!