From postures and movements to attitudes and the words we use to express them, much of our responses to life are habitual. (How often have you responded to someone asking, “How are you?” and immediately wondered why you responded that way. Or have you even bumped into somebody and barked out a “Be careful” or worse, only to realize a moment later you were the careless one. Isn’t that habitual?)
Habits function automatically. We don’t think about them. Nor are we conscious of the muscle tensions needed to make them happen. These habitual movements, thoughts, and emotions are a force in our lives our lives. They can define how we see and respond to life... both at work, at home and at play... our golf swings are nothing more than habit in motion.
Athletes know habits are formed through repetition. What is fed grows. The more we do a particular thing, the stronger it gets. Our deepest habits began when we were growing up. We are built on a foundation of habits.
Habits, by their nature, are neither good nor bad. Even a habit normally seen as good, such as an hour of exercise every day, would be hurtful if the need was for complete rest. The value of any one habit is based on whether it is helping you achieve your aim in any particular moment. (More on this in a future blog.)
Improving performance, reaching a new goal, succeeding in any change in any aspect of life begins with coming up against and recognizing existing habits. How can it be otherwise?
That is where the coaching process can really help people succeed in reaching their goals and improving performance. Through active listening, coaches can hear the habitual and help it be recognized. Then together, client and coach can determine potential new responses and alternative behaviors that can lead to the breaking of the habits – whether physical, mental or emotional – that have kept them from achieving the success they wish for.