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Letting Go of Habits Which Don’t Serve Us

Letting Go of Habits Which Don’t Serve Us

Have you ever felt bad about habits that do not serve you?  You are not alone.  If you want to learn some points that may help you, read on.

We all tend to be creatures of habits. Much of what we do every day and much of how we respond to different situations in life is based on habits we have established over time. Many of our habits developed while growing up by imitating people around us. So, a lot of the habits we have developed over time often are just a response to what seems to make sense and what is comfortable, what we like and what excites us.  he habits we have developed over time have a huge impact on the way our lives turn out. They affect our health, our well-being, our relationships, how well we do in our work or business. 

There are obviously good habits, habits that lead to good health, great relationships, maturity and prosperity.  And as we all know, there are bad habits, which negatively impact all the areas of our lives mentioned above.  You know where I am going with this.

What habits have you developed over time which neither serve you well nor serve anybody else; and you feel bad about it?  If we want your lives to move into a more positive direction, to be in better health, to have deeper relationships, to make more of a positive difference in the world, we need to let go of habits, which do not serve us.

To let go of bad habits, we need to be more intentional about how we live our lives. 

Growing up in Germany, I copied a habit from my father which is to have beer and or wine for dinner. Often not just one glass, but two or three. In my mind this habit was associated with relaxing after a hard day at work, getting me off the edge a bit, just putting me into a comfortable feeling, which I felt I deserved.  However, I was not very useful after dinner. So, the evenings would be spent watching TV or other not very productive or useful activities. And often, this would also lead to late night snacks, which of course was not helpful in maintaining a healthy body weight. 

The week after my parent’s golden wedding anniversary my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died 8 months later at the age of 77. I did not realize it until later that my father’s habit of having a beer or wine with dinner every night developed into a habit of drinking a whole bottle of wine almost every night after he retired. He never really appeared drunk and never really got out of line and did not have to perform on a job anymore, so his alcohol consumption never appeared to create much of a problem. After doing a little bit of research, I realized, that his habit of drinking a bottle of wine every night was very likely one of the big contributors to the development of his pancreatic cancer.

My habit of drinking alcohol almost every day was worse than I realized; and I had to address it. Even though I have often gone without alcohol for several days, to prove to myself and my wife that I was not an alcoholic, I still realized it was a habit that did not serve me well, that I had to let go. So, to relieve tension, I realized I had to look for alternative solutions, such as just laying down for 10 to 20 minutes to relax and drinking some soothing tea after work. And that left me with a couple more productive hours in the day as well as better sleep at night. 

My younger son Daniel, who has never picked up the habit of drinking alcohol, has been of great encouragement and inspiration to me in this regard. He is very fit and healthy. His motto is: “Alcohol has no proteins, only empty calories, so why drink it?”

To let go of bad habits takes effort. It takes a change of thinking. Instead of associating alcohol with having good and happy times (which all the beer and wine commercials suggest and some of our own experiences), we need to associate it with bad effects on our health, on our appearance, on our productivity, on our longevity. It is the thoughts surrounding a habit that need to change, false enabling beliefs need to be let go of, and a clear understanding of the negative consequences of our habits need to be developed. Those consequences need to be kept intentionally in our mind and the decision to break a habit needs to be made before we get into a situation in which we are tempted to fall back. 

The positive effects of breaking a bad habit, the better health, the better relationships, our more meaningful life will also need to be kept as clearly in our minds as the negative consequences. After all, we want to be motivated and excited by looking at a more positive future, rather than a fear that change will rob us of the joys in life.

Without question, letting go of a habit is not easy.  It takes conscious effort and a high degree of motivation.  Three things that have helped me are:

1. Thinking of negative consequences.

Thinking through the negative effects our habits have on our health, our relationships, our productivity, our ability to serve, our chances to fulfil our dreams is an important first step. Think about the consequences today, next week, next year, five or ten years down the road. Part of becoming fully aware of the negative consequences of our habits is to have a deeper understanding.  For example, when it comes to giving up sugar, we need to educate ourselves about all the negative consequences on our health and then ask ourselves: Is that momentary pleasure worth the pain?  A good friend of mine has lost a leg to diabetes. Is changing our eating habits worth keeping our legs?  You know the answer.

2. Positive Outcomes

Think about the positive consequences of getting rid of a bad habit. Think about all the things you can do and enjoy.  And think about how it will make you feel in the long term. Focus on the gain instead of the pain, when making a positive change in your life. Know your why and think about it often. Write it down and put it in front of you, on your fridge, on your desk, your calendar, wherever you see it. You can also set-up an alarm on your cell phone, with the words that remind you one, two or three times a day.  If you don’t know how to do that, ask any tech savvy teenager, he will show you!  Or just Google it.

3. Replacing the bad habits with good habits. 

As an example, instead of drinking a lot of coffee, drink some tea (green tea would be ideal).  Instead of having a beer, drink a soothing tea to relax. Remember that coffee and beer are an acquired taste, such as everything else that is bitter. So, try to acquire a taste for things that are good for you.

We maintain many of our habits because there is a certain void in our lives. Subconsciously we try to fill that void without realizing that there is only one who can: Our Creator who gives us purpose.

Overcoming habits is a battle between the spirit and the flesh, which even the great spiritual leaders such as the Apostle Paul had to fight.  (Romans 7:13-25)

When the struggle is strong, it will require much praying and fasting. Fasting takes it down to the physiological level, as much of our habits are ingrained in our brains on a physiological level.

While bad habits are often causing our lives to get into a downward spiral, they may seem impossible to get out. But with the help of God and complete surrender to Him, we can let go and let Him take over.  Nothing feels better and is more liberating than to be carried in the loving arms of our Creator.

Questions to ask yourself:
  • What habits do I have which I know, or suspect to have a negative impact on my health?  What three habits could I drop, which I know are bad for me.
  • What habits could I adopt that would improve my health? What three habits could I implement right away that would have a positive impact on my health?
  • What value do I put on my health? How high is my ambition to get as healthy as I can be? And Why?
  • How does my health impact the service I can provide for others?
  • If my health were poor, how much of a burden would that put on my family, my friends, my neighbors, my finances?
  • Do I have habits which negatively affect my relationships? Are good relationships worth letting go of those habits?
  • What habits do I have which reduce my level of productivity? What distracts me or slows me down? Work is a big part of our lives. Being productive means that we can serve at a higher level. Consider what habits I need to let go to increase my contribution.
  • What other habit is there in my life, that I know you should get rid of?
  • And if I am not getting rid of it, what is holding me back? What beliefs, fears and excuses am I holding onto that keep me from letting go?
  • Am I willing to step out of my comfort zone for a while, so that I can get out of that downward spiral, my bad habit is taking me? 


Reinhard Klett, Performance Coaching, uniquely personalized to their specific needs.

As a Certified High Performance Coach™ I coach my clients to apply the 5 High Performance Habits which extensive research has identified to be strongly correlated to higher performance and fulfillment in life. To raise their profitability, I help leaders to develop outstanding company cultures with fully engaged employees.

Another tool in my coaching program is my highly rated book “Letting Go Saved My Life”. Sharing the lessons from a personal story of survival in which letting go literally saved my life, I have inspired many readers to let go of things in their lives, which hold them back from becoming their best, and do the things that matter most to them.

Working in the corporate world for 30 years I have experienced many different corporate cultures.  This has given me a keen sense on how cultures impact productivity, employee health and satisfaction, and the bottom line. Hence my passion to coach business leaders.

You may also contact Reinhard at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule him for speaking or leadership engagements.


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