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If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.

Lao Tzu

Life Coaching

Building Focus, Energy & Courage - to Make a Better Life for You

Giving Up Bad Habits

Life Coaching Can Help


I gave an interview about coaching and bad habits and this transcript may be of interest to my website visitors. If you have a bad habit you'd like to lose, then coaching can help. Why not contact me to talk about it?

1. What are the main bad habits that people usually try and give up?

When they’re ready to be self-aware and self-honest, people try to give up those habits which don’t serve them - which are destructive in some way. Smoking and excessive drinking are the obvious habits people try to give up, but in my practice, I also deal with personal growth and the habits which limit that. In that context, procrastination is the biggy.

Why do today what you can put off indefinitely?

People procrastinate about everything from dusting to divorcing. Decades pass and we’re still in the wrong marriage, in the wrong job, in the wrong climate or under the wrong haircut.

2. How can we give up bad habits in the long-term?

Coaches know that it is not intellect that drives behaviour. If that were true, there would be no obesity, for example. The intellectual solution to obesity is a no-brainer – eat less and exercise more. But of course that’s not helpful. So – what drives behaviour? BELIEFS. Our beliefs about the world and our part in it, are what determines what we do. An understanding of that single fact is a very powerful tool in the coach’s armoury.

Beliefs are generally formed in childhood, and they’re viciously tenacious. What’s even worse about beliefs is that we often don’t recognise that we have them. They sit in our heads – immovable and hidden – directing the course of our lives. We are oblivious.

3. What is the general process in giving up?

The exact process varies from client to client. Essential first steps include recognizing the habit, and recognising its impact on the client’s life. This is really the removal of denial. Once that’s done, I help my clients to look at their habit in context – where are they? How are they feeling? What does the habit give them that they like? This is useful cognitive analysis, but it won’t release the habit’s strangle hold.

Next I explore my client’s beliefs. That’s always difficult and particularly so without help. A common belief is that the habit is the enemy – but it’s important to recognise that the habit is part of you currently are. Another belief is that the habit is really inevitable and that resistance is futile. This one under-pins almost all human failing. Other beliefs might involve low self-esteem, hostility towards groups of people or things, ideas about punishment of self and others, and so on. These limiting beliefs must be discovered, explored, and dismantled. This is what frees up the way for change. Alongside this general process, I may use any of a variety of techniques from NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) to help my clients break free.

4. What are Your Top Tips For Giving Up?

Get help. Give me money, dammit! But seriously, these are my top tips for breaking a destructive habit:

a. Be kind to yourself. DO NOT punish yourself when you lapse. Just smile, and get back on the wagon. When you’re doing your habit – just be calmly aware of it.

b. Find yourself a support structure to supplement your own willpower and energy. A group of friends, a slimming club, etc.

c. Be goal-focused – not problem focused – so think about how things will be when (yes when) your habit is gone – don’t dwell on how bad things are now.

d. Find a way to energise your positive goal – what that means for you depends on you and your goal – it might be an inspiring picture to hang in your office

e. Find a way to maintain focus on your goal to break this habit. Maybe you can pin a note above your bathroom mirror.

f. Get help on those beliefs!

5. What is a Good Time to Start?

There is only ever one good time to start working on a better life for yourself. And that time is NOW.

6. Is giving things up good for you?

Growth means change and change can be difficult and scary. Making room for some nice new stuff by dumping some nasty old stuff is always a good deal.

7. If giving up feels impossible, can we make changes for improvement instead?

Yes! See that “feels impossible” in there? That’s a self-limiting belief. One way to break it down, it a brick at a time. Small changes add up – eat your elephant a bite at a time.


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