Contributed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Did you know that habits increase our chance at success--or not?
Habits are influenced by thought patterns which are in turn influenced by the seeds of our subconscious. Those seeds are words. So reaching for success by changing how we think about words as they relate to our progress in life are often espoused by leaders like psychologists and business leaders like Elle Kaplan, CEO and founder of Lexion Capital, an investment management firm.
To use our talents more effectively we want habits that nurture our better selves. We want our best habits to dominate our world view, but we can also turn habits we consider destructive into positives. We can do that with the power of words; we substitute words that influence us negatively for those that move us forward. It occurs to me that the process may be easier for writers who already aware of and accept the power of words in our lives. We can make a few words (and habits!) that work against us into words (and habits) that work for us—both consciously and subconsciously.
Defensivenesscan become curiosity. Curiosity nurtures new ideas, new successes. Curiosity helps in our endeavors to observe details more creatively. Generally speaking, writers have already honed that skill. But curious people also listen more acutely. The asking of questions and the listening to answers are important skills for authors who do public speaking or teaching. Asking questions can get you out of a whole lot of hot water. You may even discover that you have common ground with a heckler!
Envy or jealousy are similar to admiration. When we use the “a” word—admire—instead of letting the little green monster take control of our thought patterns, we begin to see how we easy it is to emulate what we admire. That simple change is a positive pattern for growth.
Turn procrastination into achievement. Tasks, jobs, assignments sometimes feel like burdens. When you focus on hating them, they are destructive. Instead, rearrange your thinking. Think of them as opportunities for learning. Maybe for learning another skill. Maybe that skill will be organizing our time better. You’ll think of others that might be particularly useful to you as you tackle each of your projects with a different attitude.
Turn gut or knee-jerk reactionsinto level-headed thinking. One way to do this is to avoid making decisions when you are upset, disgruntled, feeling jealous, angry, sad . . . or even overly excited or enthusiastic. This rule has been with most of us since our parents told us not to act until after we have counted to ten. When we substitute the new term for the old, it becomes easier to do. Besides, we now have maturity on our side.
Here’s the most important change. And perhaps the most difficult. How many celebrities have we seen get themselves into trouble because they haven’t turned their success into humility? Success follows as your life-skills improve. Why not tape the word “humility” to your bathroom mirror as a reminder of how to handle success. It will happen. Success fosters more success. And you have the power of words on your side.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program.
Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts.
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