Habit is a hard thing to break and some habits are good, but like Spencer Johnson’s parable Who Moved My Cheese, it’s Hem who keeps looking in the same place for the cheese which has, of course, moved… Someone close to me has stopped after years (and years!) of smoking. The biggest challenge I’ve learned from her is that smoking is associative with all kinds of other activities and the real challenge is to discover and create whole new activities, engagements, mental models, and eventually habits, which substitute for and supplant that behavior. Now I recognize smoking is an addition, not merely a habit, but extend that metaphor to your daily activities and create anew behaviors which supplant the habit you want to eradicate.
Think not only in terms of ‘What not to do’ but also ‘What to do instead?’ Marvelous new journeys await – she is now an accomplished photographer by using the exploration of photography and capturing beautiful imagery to supplant a habit she is breaking. What habits do you have which keep you looking in the same places for things which have moved elsewhere? Jim Collins has a nice message here advising us to make a list of the things you do which aren’t working and – yes – begin to stop doing them! Collins has a six-step model to Stop Doing and the first is to identify your Hedgehog: What You Are Good At, What You Are Passionate About, and What You Can Make a Livelihood At. For example, I’m passionate about playing guitar and piano but I understand I’m not terribly good at either and I’m unlikely to make a living at it. Recognize your Hedgehog, and align it with your Do-List and your Stop Doing List.