Tag Archives: habits

Welcome 2013! A new year – a blank new page to start on for your personal brand

I have asked my friend Valerie, a brand expert, to contribute this article –  this time of year, is a great time to review your personal Brand.

Looking back at our achievements, failures in 2012 and moving towards our aspirations, our personal brand is one of the best tools we have to attract what we want. Getting to understand how our “magnet” worked in the past and how we can make it stronger opens the door to more avenues of realising our dreams.

How does personal branding work?

Personal branding takes place in many ways. Your communication style, your emotions, your values and beliefs systems are all part of a personal brand. It is who you are, what you like, what you do, where you come from. Knowing yourself inside out helps to know which part of your brand you would like to communicate more, which part needs strengthening, which part is not serving your goals. 

Brands evolve over time. Your current brand embraces beliefs that are congruent with your life experiences. Beliefs are part of the invisible part of the “iceberg”. Your communication style is part of your public brand.

Personal branding takes place all the time: when we are dating, going out with friends or mingling with the family. Our values, cultural norms, emotional management determines who we attract as friends, potential partners, clients. The status of our relationship with family members is determined by how well we understand what makes or breaks a relationship. 

What we use to brand ourselves depends on the contextual situation, the person we are interacting with and how high are the stakes. If punctuality is a core value and having to work with people whose relationship with time is more fluid requires an assessment of how important punctuality is as our core value. Expecting people to change so as to suit our needs is not realistic. Meeting the person halfway is a possible option as it encourages the other to do same.

In short, personal branding is not about having great PR skills. It’s more about knowing what emotions are not serving us and how to move to more empowering ones. It is communicating clearly on our core values so that we attract like-minded people, organisations sharing the same values. Without clarity on who we are, we tend to attract only part of what we aim for or we tend to continue experiencing repeated patterns in our relationships…most of the time, the ones that we do not like.

For your “magnet” to be aligned to your aspirations, get to know yourself to your deepest core, honor your feelings and love who you are!

Updating your brand

So take a bit of time this week to consider your brand – your pre-dominant values, emotions, patterns, habits, beliefs, qualities …

  • How do you perceive yourself?
  • How do others perceive you? How do you come across? Relationships are mirrors. What you see in others is part of you.
  • How do you want to be perceived? You attract what you are and not what you want.
  • What would like to update, change or add to your brand this year?

One key tip to updating your brand is to do it one attribute at a time, rather than completely change everything from day one. Patience is a virtue and be kind and non judgmental towards yourself. Especially, when it comes to values and habits, for example, punctuality – if you are regularly late, then being on time from now on is a new habit that takes time and some work to embody. 

Aligning your New Year’s resolutions with your brand

If you set New Year’s resolutions or intentions, check those intentions against your desired brand.

  • Do they support or dilute your brand?
  • Or do you need to additional or different intentions this year to update your brand?

Valerie & Bettina

You can find out more about Valerie Cheong Took at  www.valeriecheongtook.com

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Getting rid of unwanted habits

We all have habits [1] that we want to get rid of or change. The topic of unwanted habits something that usually comes up during December or January, when we look back over our year, and remember those discarded New Year’s resolutions that we abandoned during the first two quarters of this year.

What are habits?

So before we get into how do we rid ourselves of those unwanted habits, let’s have a look what habits really are and how they formed. Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines a habit as “a behaviour pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance”. Big words, that just mean that we repeated a sequence of activities enough times to make them automatic and unconscious, i.e. now the habit just happens automatically (e.g. brushing teeth) and we often only realise that we ‘doing the habit’ when we are either half way through or experience the results of the habit.

Generally, habits help us to automate activities so we do not have to think about them. However, when these habits include drinking the 20th cup of coffee at work, unconsciously picking up and eating the 10th Mars bar at work or flopping onto the sofa after switching on the TV every night in a row instead of going to the gym, is when we want to think about breaking them and acquiring more useful and generative habits.

How are habits formed?

As with every habits at one point we did not have it and we had to learn it and make it automatic by doing the activities over and over and over again. The good news is, we can use the same strategy to change unwanted habits or acquire news ones.

They say that it takes 21 days to create a habit. Well, there are differing views on this. Some people say it takes 90 days for the body to get the habit into the muscle, other says it can be done in less than 21 days. My view is, if you just use repetition of an activity and willpower, unwanted habits take a lot longer to break than if you use some other key techniques in addition.

In this article I am covering three effective and easy to use techniques to break habits that you can use in parallel. These techniques work in conjunction with the repetition method mentioned earlier. If you feel you need a rapid and immediate habit [1] breaker I suggest you invest in a session with an NLP [2] Master Practitioner.

1. Satisfy the reasons behind the unwanted habit in a more useful way

Now how do we actually rid ourselves of those unwanted habits? Think of habit now, that you have and that you wish you didn’t have.

  • What does this habit give me?
  • What does it do for me?
  • What do I get out of it?

These are some really important questions to ask yourself. Habits are usually formed for a reason and generally with a good intention.  That is why force and willpower does usually not work. We will only become tense and more stressed because we are not satisfying the initial positive intention or reason for our unwanted habit. For example, the good intention of drinking lots of coffee during the day might be to ‘stay alert’, or the good intention for the switching on the TV and sitting on the couch after work might be ‘relaxation’.

So once you have discovered what the unwanted habit’s positive intention is, ask yourself:

  • What do I want instead, that will satisfy the positive intention and is more useful for me now and going forward?
  • How else could you achieve what the unwanted habit does for you?
  • What are three other ways to fulfill the purpose of the unwanted habit?

And really make sure, that whatever you choose instead, also fulfils what that unwanted habit did for you.

2. Catch the habit before it starts by finding its trigger!

Every habit has a trigger, something that sets it off. In order to change a habit useful to catch it before it starts. It is a bit like a washing machine cycle – once you pressed start, it is almost impossible to stop to put more washing in or choose a different programme as the machine has already filled with water.  We want to catch the habit before you even press the start button.

I invite you to walk through your habit step by step (and the best way is walk backwards) until you have found the trigger. Ask yourself the following:

  • How do I it is time to (do the habit)?
  • What sets me off? Is is something I see, is it something I hear or say to myself, a feeling, or a smell or something I taste. 
    A lot of habits are set off by visual triggers. For example going back to our TV example, it might set off by walking in the living room, setting down the key on the table and seeing the TV in front of you.

You might wish to take a few days to observe yourself, and see where you can interrupt your habit. Play around with it.

Once you know your trigger, you are in control  of the habit and can make a decision at the trigger point to do your habit or not. And, you can use a distraction to remind you to do something else instead. So for the TV example, instead of coming into the living room where you see the TV, you might want to go into the another room first or place the TV elsewhere.

3. Increase the speed of adopting the new habit by using visualisation – mental walkthroughs!

As we know habits are formed by repetitions. To adopt new habits quicker to repeat them as often as you can. That is not always practical physically. Visualisation or mental rehearsal is a great technique to use. Map out mentally in as much detail as you can, using images, sounds, feelings (smells and tastes if appropriate) to create your new habit from trigger to finish – like a mental movie, and then replay this in your mind as often as you like. Make your mental walkthrough fun. Play around with the movie and its attributes, for example make it brighter, more colourful, slower, quicker and find out how to make the most compelling for you.

The great thing is, that you can do this anywhere, at the bus stop, while waiting for the train or even in a break in the office. I would not recommend doing this while driving a car.

And then, practice, practice, practice every time when you notice your trigger, make that different decision!

My tip would be to focus on one habit at a time. Even though you might now be totally fired up to change all your unwanted habit, these processes work best when we focus on one habit at a time. And once you have changed one habit, you will find the next one will be even quicker and easier to change.

Enjoy and let me know how you get on!

[1] Habits in this context do not include addictive behaviours e.g. addiction to drugs, food or other substances. For these, please consult a medical professional.

[2] NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming