VICES! Most of us normal people have one...or a few.
Some infamous ones include:
We love our vices, most of the time. Except when we take them too far and they cause us pain.
Ready to rid yourself of such a villain?
This is an important decision. The usual instinct is to reduce the behavior, which can easily be reasoned. "Chocolate isn't bad. I don't want to give it up and never have it again - ever." "I enjoy shopping!" "Of course I want to celebrate with cake on my birthday."
It's hard to argue with that logic. Sounds...well, sound.
During a coaching session a client told me she was giving up alcohol altogether. That got my attention fast! She had a medical condition and her doctor had been telling her for some time to limit herself to one drink per day. She struggled with that and often had two or more alcoholic beverages a day. "Wow! That's fantastic! Congratulations! What led to this shift?"
"Moderation is torture."
I made sure to capture that little nugget of brilliance. There is so much truth in that!
Back to our line of thinking about wanting to reduce versus delete a habit or vice. I understand. That's reasonable.
Decide, in advance, when it's acceptable and when it's not. What are the rules of engagement?
If we're talking cake...how much? How often? What occasion(s)? Just your birthday? Your kids' birthdays? Your co-workers' birthdays? Anytime you see cake? Once a month? Once a week? A wedge? A thin slice?
If we're talking shopping...with cash only? Via a budget? A time limit? Only if you take something out of your closet first?
If we're talking soft drinks...how much? How often? Under what conditions? Only after you've had 10 cups of water that day?
...Because there needs to be a hard "NO" in place because using "moderation" as your one and only guideline is torture. It's too nebulous. You need super-duper clarity.
There is freedom from guilt when there are rules and you know where your boundaries are.
If you decide you want to delete the vice altogether - great!
Or you can delete only the occurrences outside your set guidelines.
If it's a vice you want to delete altogether - like smoking, for example - then tell it how you are done! Talk about how bad the relationship is. Tell it what it has cost you (financially, emotionally, physically, with relationships). What it's done to you. What is WILL do to you if you don't end it. How it's a terrible lover. How you won't stand for it any longer. How you deserve better. Make it a clean breakup. Close the door forever.
Write it out on paper. Man, that feels good!
If it's a vice where you're only deleting the portion outside your set guidelines...write the letter to that portion of the vice. "Listen birthday cake. I know you're going to show up in my life from time to time. I can't control that. I can control how often I partake of you. I will eat 1 slice of you on my birthday because I want to. After that, we're done for a whole year. I don't need or want you when you are someone else's birthday cake. Cheater! If you're not my birthday cake then you are someone else's. I will not allow someone else's cake to get in the way of my fitness goals. That would be crazy. I only have eyes for my own red velvet cake with birthday cake ice cream and sprinkles on top. Any other cake is unworthy of my attention."
You get the idea.
Writing out the letter is a great tool that allows you to restate your ground rules and add emotion to it. It helps you to see the consequences of your actions (whether you quit the vice or not). And it helps you to see the future you not partaking the the habit you want to kick. We coaches call that forward pacing.
Best of luck with your breakup!
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