Having positive and empowering beliefs moves you forward. However, some beliefs take away your power to improve and achieve your goals effectively.
In this article, I share how changing a negative belief helped my client Mary (not her real name) overcome a bad habit – that of sleeping and waking up late – in one week.
To get the most out of this article, put yourself in Mary’s shoes. Examine one belief you have about yourself or your abilities using the questions I asked Mary.
Time management vs managing yourself
Time management is a huge challenge for most people. It’s also one of the core areas my clients work on during their coaching.
In a coaching session Mary mentioned that she had a problem waking up early. This was partly because she slept late every night. Waking up late was affecting her time management during the day as she was always trying to catch up with time.
She’d tried different things over the years, but nothing worked. Therefore, she labelled herself as someone who loves sleeping. This became part of her identity and her friends and family accepted it of her.
During our coaching session, Mary noted that she was tired of starting her day late because it was affecting her business. Waking up at 8:00am meant that her work day started at around 11:00am.
A number of clients and prospects had complained that they had gone to her business in the morning and left when they didn’t find her. It was clear to her now that waking up late no longer served her business and it was also affecting her financial status.
What I found most interesting is the way she justified her habit when she said, “I’m not a morning a morning person. My energy comes in at around 11:00am.” She also believed that it was impossible for her to sleep early because she was a night person.
Beliefs vs truth
My response to her opinions was to challenge her thinking so that she could see the impact of her beliefs and habits on her goals. I asked her the following questions:
- Really? Is this REALLY true?
- I think this is a lie you’ve told yourself until it has become your truth…What is this lie costing you emotionally, financially, and in other ways?
- Is this lie and habit going to work for you now and in the future, given the goals you’ve set for yourself and your business?
We explored these questions together and identified the impact the belief and habit were having on her life and business. The picture of her future that emerged was not a good one at all. That was all the motivation Mary needed in order to take action and change the habit.
She came up with a number of things she could do to sleep and wake up earlier than she was used to. These included:
- Reducing coffee intake after 6:00pm.
- Eliminating phone calls with friends and clients in the evenings (she spent a lot of time listening to people’s problems…).
- Going to bed and turning off the lights by 9:30pm daily.
- Setting her wake up alarm for 6:00am daily.
I also recommended that she:
- Stops snoozing and wake up when the alarm sounds.
- Place the clock (or phone) far from the bed so that she has to wake up and walk to where it is to turn it off.
- Remove the bedside rug if she has any so that she steps on the cold floor when she wakes up to turn off the clock. This would hopefully kill her sleep immediately.
The results of this homework were amazing. In the next coaching session, Mary was bubbling. She was very excited with her results and had also completed a lot of pending work because of the extra time she had gained that week.
Within a week, she managed to sleep by 10:00pm daily. She had also woken up before her alarm 3 times that week.She didn’t even do all the things she had identified as homework and never had to practice any of my recommendations.
Her motivation to change was so high that she changed almost immediately.
At the same time, she was shocked about the fact that she had believed a ‘truth’ about herself that was truly a lie! She wondered what else she believed about herself and her abilities that was not true.
This was such an AHA that she asked herself a very profound question, “Where have I been all of my life?”
We were both silent for a few moments after she voiced this question in the session. On my side, I was silent because I knew that her life would never be the same again. Not after such a life-changing experience.
Mary’s situation is not unique and many people have similar beliefs and habits. The day after Mary’s session, I shared this exercise with another client who also believed that she’s not a morning person.
She’d been complaining that she had so much to do and her days just rushed by. Evenings found her tired and worrying about the work that’s still pending. Yet, she couldn’t identify what was taking her time.
After answering the same questions I asked Mary, this client got a light bulb moment in less than 10 minutes and found a solution to her time management problem.
These two experiences got me thinking a lot about the lies we believe about ourselves, our habits, and our abilities. These lies are so entrenched in our psyche that they have become our truths.
And these ‘true lies’ hold us hostage and reduce our chances of success.
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What beliefs do you hold that are not true?
How are they affecting you and your ability to succeed in all areas of your life?
What will be your default future if you don’t change these beliefs and the habits they support?
Are you willing to allow this to happen?