6 Simple Steps To Avoid Changing Who You Are and Instead, Changing Your Addictions.
It happened for years. Too often I would come home from work, open the refrigerator, then the freezer. I'd sigh and think, "F*ck, I have no idea what to make for dinner."
Sometimes I'd head back out to the grocery store to pull things together. Sometimes I'd call for takeout. Many times I'd throw some frozen chicken nuggets and French fries in the oven and call it a meal.
But for some reason, I just wouldn't make the changes necessary to stop the madness.
I mean, c'mon, I knew what the solution was. I knew that if I simply "meal planned" the previous weekend or earlier in the week, we'd be in much better shape when it came to meal time. I also knew that if I delegated some things to the rest of the family, that would help as well.
But I didn't do that. For years.
This is what we do with so many changes we want and need to make. Whether you are also caught in the vortex of 'what's for dinner?', or it's other changes you want to make, but for some reason just don't implement them.
It's so easy to know what to do. You're not stupid. You've listened to the podcast, read the book, got the advice from a mentor.
So why is doing the thing you should do so damn hard?!
One day I was lamenting about my inability to meal plan and the resulting stress/chaos/poor nutrition it created. And then I asked myself the question: What is the real, underlying problem that prevents me from planning?
I realized that the thing that tripped me up was I often had "decision fatigue" on what we should make for dinner. I found that getting creative and picking five(ish) meals for the family each week was the root of evil,, holding me back from meal planning.
With that realization, I decided to have a little pow-wow with my family the next weekend. I told them that each weekend we would each pick a meal for the next week and write it on a chalkboard. I then was able to quickly type all the necessary ingredients into my grocery list on my app on my phone.
The next day, I went to the store and shopped for the week. When I went to check out, I immediately noticed I had spent significantly less than usual. Ooh, that felt good.
The next day, I finished up work around 5:00, and for the first time in a while, I felt this calm as I transitioned to home life. The chicken was already thawed on the counter, and I had everything I needed to make the dish we planned. Ah, this is nice.
And finally, it felt great to watch my family sit down and eat a balanced, home cooked meal. I'm such a good mom and wife.
This was a year and a half ago. And while the process varies from week to week, we still largely plan our meals like this.
So why had it taken me 20+ adult years to finally solve a problem and evolve into a better meal planner? Because I hadn't yet figured out how to get addicted to a new way of being.
You see, the reason I not only implemented that strategy, but also stuck with it, was that I paid attention to the small feelings and benefits I kept getting as I changed to this new way of being.
I celebrated (in my head) that fact that I spent less money, that I felt calm and joy when I cooked a meal at the end of the day, that my family was enjoying what WE had all decided was a good menu for the week.
And this is also at the heart of how I coach and lead change with others. I don't change people. I help them change their addictions.
I believe that if you can think less about the noble journey you have to set off on to be a better person and instead more about finding ways to get addicted to a new way of being, everything changes.
If you want to have more space for creative, big thinking, consider how you need to detox from your addiction to "email zero" and replace it with and addiction to the feeling that comes with accomplishing big, creative things.
If you want to spend less time doing and more time leading, think about how you change your addiction from accomplishing the task to the feeling you get when your team accomplishes something you didn't even have a direct hand in.
If you want to spend less time acting like a corporate robot and more time being authentic in the workplace, think about how you can stop being addicted to doing the things that "sound good on paper" and become addicted to the connection, trust, and intrigue you create when you do something authentic.
Whatever it is, I encourage you to...
1. Take a step back and determine what is really holding you back from making change.
2. Sketch out a short-term plan that mitigates that and allows you to test a new way of being/doing.
3. Test out this new way for a few weeks.
4. Be hyper-aware of what new, joyful feelings and outcomes result and consciously recognize what new addiction(s) are replacing the old addiction(s).
5. Keep tweaking and experimenting to fully detox from the old addiction and move to the new one.
6. Rinse and repeat.
And before you know it, 2022 will be a feast of a year. Bon appetite!
Erin Hatzikostas is an internationally-recognized leader on the impact of authenticity in the workplace and the founder of b Authentic inc, where she helps people and companies win by using authenticity as their secret weapon to success.
Erin is the bestselling author of "You Do You(ish)", a TEDx speaker, coach-sultant, and the co-host of an offbeat career and leadership podcast, "b Cause Work Doesn't Have to Suck". Erin's talks have reached hundreds of thousands of people, and her thought leadership has been featured on ABC and CBS and been published in Business Insider, Fast Company, Well+Good, among several others.