Breaking a Habit

Breaking a Habit

Habits are hard to break. This is a universally accepted idea – in fact some research suggests it takes 21 days to eliminate a habit or create a new one. And yet, we often hear stories of individuals “reinventing themselves” by changing their life goals and outlooks. When we look closely, have their habits really changes or have they just changed the venue in which they function?

Here’s an example from a story I recently read.

A young woman set a goal to achieve top grades though middle and high school with the goal of getting into a top college. Once in college, the same young woman set a goal to maintain academic excellence and earn a prized internship at a prestigious investment banking firm. From there, she had a goal to have a top-level career in investment banking. You can see how her habits are to set academic achievement goals and pursue them to a very defined result.

Along the way, a semester of study abroad left her wondering why she wanted that job. She found the international study and the opportunity to visit different countries exhilarating. After the internship ended, she reflected on her life path and the exhausting and stressful efforts to reach her goals. After years and years focused on the particular goal of academic and professional achievement, she decided to reinvent herself. A top-level career in investment banking was not going to be her career path. Instead, she decided to see the world.

She set a new goal: To visit every country in the world and do it in, literally, record time as the first female to visit every sovereign country in the shortest amount of time.

Changing Habits

We can all agree, she made a career change from investment banking to traveler. But the question I wonder is this: Did she make a life change? Did she really reinvent herself?

Reflecting on the description of her goals, she started relentlessly pursuing individual achievements in grade school which continued through college. It appears, her travel record became another relentless pursuit using the same habits developed years before. She changed the venue of pursuit, but she did not change the habit.

This is important because it is the habit that could be the primary contributor to her exhaustion and stress.

How we refocus ourselves includes an understanding of who we are and our habits. If the way we are working and/or living is exhausting or we find it causing stress or angst, a change in circumstance is necessary. Self-understanding leads to the freedom to be ourselves yet reinvent ourselves. The habits we develop do not necessarily reflect our natural way of doing. Consider changing your habits to improve your life. This provides the opportunity to enhance your work and personal life.

Understanding Habits

Habits are learned behaviors that can be changed in 21 days with intentional focus. Understanding habits necessitates self-review and seeking perspective of others. Further, consider a tool like the Kolbe A Index to understand your natural way of doing. Kolbe helps you understand instincts as opposed to learned habits. Greater understanding of you provides the opportunity to change habits that cause your stress and exhaustion.

I see business leaders and businesses themselves remain stuck in the habits developed that no longer contribute the value sought in life or business. Take the time to re-evaluate your current state. Consider the need to change habits to achieve further growth. Seek assistance from advisors who have been there and have assisted others.

hb&k is a consulting and advisory firm assisting businesses and their teams strategically prepare for growth. We help you understand your current state and provide future focused coaching. Let us help you change your habits.

Headshot of Dennis Sherrin


This blog was written by hb&k’s managing shareholder, Dennis Sherrin.  Dennis focuses on consulting for businesses on vision, strategy, business transition, & organizational development to effectively utilize the collective talents of its people.
Connect with Dennis on LinkedIn.
Follow Dennis on Twitter.