Have you ever had a moment where you’ve said something and as you’re saying it you kind of can’t believe what you’re saying? You’ve heard yourself telling the same story about how you endured a soul-sucking job, tolerated your obnoxious boss or felt exhausted and stuck in your business.
I was catching up with some old friends this weekend about some of our experiences and how our lives have changed over time. I was telling the story of when I first started my private counseling practice how I was contracted by Social Services to help clients who were “unmotivated and unwilling” (i.e., court ordered) referred by social services who were at risk of losing their children to the court system.
And especially about how I was on call 24/7 (remember pagers?) and we couldn’t take a family weekend away because there was no one else who could be “on call.” Sometimes I needed a police escort to my appointments. How every Monday morning I’d find myself thinking “why am I doing this?”.
Since the social services contract made up 90% of my private practice, I was very busy. I did the “crisis counselor” thing as an in-home-intensive-family-therapist for about 8 years. And for the last six of them I’d be thinking “why am I doing this?”
As I explained this it dawned on me that it had taken rather a long time for me to go from realizing I wasn’t enjoying it to actually doing something about it. Over 6 years. Wow. I was being held hostage by my own habits.
Much of the work I do today with business and executive coaching clients these days gives them a new perspective on their business and their impact. Shows them possibilities and solutions they just hadn’t thought of before.
But often, just like me on a Monday morning, they already know they need something different. Sometimes they even know what that different thing is. But they feel stuck. Held hostage by habits.
Because when you’ve done something for a long, long time it becomes part of you. It’s just what you do. For some, It’s who you become. A mindless habit. It’s easy. It’s familiar. It’s certain. You know how to do it. I’ve heard it all (and done it myself).
Even though you don’t like it, or it’s not really getting you the results you need, it’s a lot less scary than something completely new that might not work at all. Or might make you look silly. Or you might fail.
It took over six years (and a lot of encouragement from my husband) for me to get the courage to give up the certain income that came with that counseling contract and do what I really wanted to do.
Don’t let it take you that long to try something new in your business (or career).
You don’t have to change everything. But pick one thing you don’t think is working well and drop it for a few months and do something else instead. Stop saying “yes” to every request and say “let me give it some thought and I’ll get back to you.” Stop taking on new clients who don’t fit your ideal client profile and say “Thank you, but it’s not a good fit, let me refer you to someone who could be a better fit for your needs.”
If it works, keep doing it. If it doesn’t, try something else – sooner rather than later.
Not rocket science. Obvious on paper. Trickier to do in real life. Therefore the six years.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Don’t you waste six more years, or even six more months doing something that constantly drains you, leaves you feeling exhausted or fails to bring you joy.
What’s one small thing you are willing to do (or stop doing) today so you aren’t held hostage by habits?
Christina Haxton, MA LMFT is the Chief Potential Officer & Founder of Sustainable Leadership. An executive coach, business consultant and speaker, Christina assists busy business owners, high potential managers, key executives and CEOs to achieve successful work/life balance and peace of mind to become exceptional leaders who are built to last.
To apply for a confidential Strategy Session to explore your business or career goals or to inquire about a professional development program for your team, meeting or conference, contact Christina at email@example.com or (970) 387-8935.