Difficulties arise when we don’t know, don’t recognize, or don’t acknowledge our needs and therefore don’t actively seek to get them met in a healthy way. If you don’t meet your needs in healthy ways, they will rise up and cause you to get them met in unhealthy ways.TheExceleratedLife.com
“Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now” ~ Larry Kersten
Old Habits Die Hard
Old habits die hard. I suspect that, like me, you have run up against this truism time and again. It’s hard to break old habits.
Consider the habit of smoking. At the age of 36, I had been a smoker for more than half my life. I quit . . . twice. But I started smoking again both times. “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world,” said Mark Twain. “I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” The third time worked for me, but, over 30 years later, it remains the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Because of the addictive properties of nicotine, there is an obvious physical payoff in the smoking habit. But there were psychological and emotional payoffs as well.
The same is true for any habit. One of the reasons (though not the only one) we continue to follow old habits is that we are getting some kind of payoff — physical, mental, emotional, or some combination. No matter what the habit is, even if it is detrimental to your physical, mental, and/or emotional health, you are getting some type of immediate reward. The habit or the habitual behavior is addressing a need you have. It may not always be in a healthy way, but it is meeting one of your needs.
Identify The Need
Difficulties arise when we don’t know, don’t recognize, or don’t acknowledge our needs and therefore don’t actively seek to get them met in a healthy way. We may not know what they are. We may not recognize or acknowledge them as needs. But it doesn’t mean we don’t have them and that they aren’t motivating us to fulfill them. If you don’t meet your needs in healthy ways, they can rise up and cause you to get them met in unhealthy ways.
To break an old habit, you must first identify the need that the habit is fulfilling, then find a more positive way to get that need met. If you don’t examine your needs and consciously take actions to get them fulfilled, on an ongoing basis, they’ll show up in ways you may not intend.
Get Your Needs Met In A Healthy Way
If you are stuck with an unhelpful or unhealthy habit, if you are not reaching your goals, if you are not creating the life you want to live, perhaps it is because you are not fulfilling your primary needs and they are showing up in counter-productive ways. One of the most important things you can do in terms of personal growth is to identify your top emotional needs, develop a plan to get them met, and then follow the plan. It can also be one of the hardest. Here is a four-step process to help you get started.
Acknowledge That You Have Needs
The first step is to own that you have needs. Your needs are important to having your best life, to doing and being your best. Acknowledge that you have needs, that you want to have them met, and commit to getting them fulfilled. In our culture, men especially don’t want to admit to being “needy” but we all – women and men – have needs that must be met.
Identify Your Top Four Needs
Review this list of needs. We all have needs in each of these areas but for this exercise, choose the top ten needs that appeal to you. Prioritize those 10 and select the 4 with the highest priority.
Identify Ways To Get Your Top Four Needs Met
Select the need with the highest priority and write it at the top of a sheet of paper. Now, brainstorm ways that you could get this need met. This may include enlisting family and friends to help you. Be courageous. Continue this exercise for each of your Top Four.
Implement An Action Plan
From your list of ideas, select three ways you can get your top need met. List those on your paper. Develop the steps you will take to implement those three things. Take the first step. Or put it on your calendar. Continue this exercise for each of your Top Four needs.
Of course, it isn’t usually possible to get all your needs met right away. The process takes time. As you begin to get your top needs met, you may find that the energy you were spending unproductively as you unconsciously tried to get them fulfilled is now available for other, more creative, pursuits. Or you may find that an old, habitual behavior no longer seems so appealing. That’s a payoff of a more positive nature.
The basis of life improvement is to approach each area thoughtfully, consciously, and intentionally. You can’t live from your strengths if you don’t know what your strengths are. You can’t live out your values if you don’t know what your values are. And you can’t get your needs met until you know what your needs are. What step could you take today to begin the process? Why not take it now? That is embracing your Excelerated Life™!
Excelerated Habits™ — automating your best behaviors — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service.
Read more about the Excelerated Life™.