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Habit Forming. Habit Breaking. Hold the Chips!

By Tim Deuitch  |  July 18, 2014

I’m 6 weeks into my New Years commitment. Not a resolution, a commitment. I’m pushing away chips for 2014. Potato, tortilla, and corn chips. Why? I have the habit of consuming a ‘serving’ of 11 potato chips quicker than it takes me to realize I’ve eaten them. At 160 calories per serving per day (actual conservative pace) this commitment will save me 58,400 calories in 2014, the equivalent of 17 pounds of chubby hubby. At this writing I’ve saved over 6,500 calories. Some say I’ll replace chips with Oreos. No. It’s the unconscious chip-eating reflex I wish to curtail. While I never push away Oreos, I know how many I eat.

Why am I sharing?

My chip eating commitment parallels the skill-building challenge. It’s about changing current (often unconscious) habits to more productive ones. It’s hard. The new skills initially feel unnatural if not clumsy. As a result skills that can produce undeniably better results often fail to be implemented in favor of the familiar. The ramification is that our ability to differentiate and earn new support often hangs in the balance if we don’t improve our skills. In work and life I’ve observed two major barriers to forming new habits; belief and preparation.

Belief: The Intangible

When it comes to skills that enhance competitive edge, most habits don’t have job threatening consequences if they remain unchanged. Our skills got us this far and anyone reading this has plenty to be proud of. The challenge lies in believing the new skill is an essential next step in your success. The gravitational pull of ‘no change’ is significant. To overcome this power we must believe that the subtle new skills used in single moments will produce truly better results over time and are worth the strain of change. Improving the experience of a single supporter or co-worker is nice. Improving such experiences every day for a year? Awesome! Believe.

Preparation: The Tangible

Creating a new habit takes thoughtful and repeated action. For instance we know that most constituent visits involve preparation focused mostly on what you’ll tell or sell the supporter. Imagine taking a few extra minutes to be sure you create a mutually satisfying experience for both parties. Consider the advantage you gain when your experience stands out in their minds. You’ll get a better result, and you’ll likely need less planning time as the new habit takes hold. We’ve all felt the confidence that comes from applying new skills well, and we all know the frustration when old habits overcome our best intentions. Prepare.

Wishing you the best of luck in 2014! Please take the time to believe and prepare. You’ll be glad you did. Now I’m off to get an Oreo. Maybe two.

2020 Nonprofit Strategic Planning with Strategic Enhancement Group

MEET THE AUTHOR

Tim Deuitch

Senior Performance Consultant

Tim brings over 25 years of experience working closely with business leaders throughout the Twin Cities and the USA. He has worked within a multitude of workplace cultures and economic cycles, helping leaders and teams improve their effectiveness and results. Since joining SEG in 2007, Tim has continued his work as a change agent, helping organizations meet their goals. Tim graduated from Warren Wilson College in 1983 with a B.S. degree in social work.

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