Tawn Holstra Auston

In the Tarot, there is a card called the Tower of Destruction.   For many it is a scary card, predicting a huge disruption in our future.   What most people don’t see in the more subtle aspects of the card is that the disruption is caused… we are at the heart of it.   The card is saying it is time for us to shake things up… change old crusty behaviors that no longer serve us.      According to the Tarot Handbook, by Ariel Angeles, the card is about “healing and restoration, but first, it is a symbol of the change and awakening that is required to dismantle that which is artificial, false, or conditioned.”

Our focus is all about our unconscious habits that are undermining our growth, both business and personal.    

Definitions:         Unconscious:  What we are unaware of

Habits:  Those thoughts and actions we do over and over, and over, whether they are  good for us or not.  

So how do we find and eliminate our own unconscious habits? 

Especially, those behaviors that we don’t discover until after we have started our new business and we are up to our ass in alligators?   Are you laying the track to your own train wreck with your unconscious behaviors or bad habits?

How to break bad habits is one of the tougher tasks of being an entrepreneur.  Mostly because we don’t always see them until we have been doing them for a while.   

First, a few important and ground breaking insights into habits as they relate to being human! 

  •  Habits are whole system phenomena    — they do not occur in a vacuum, so there is more than one aspect to most habits.   They include thoughts, activities, timing, moods, and sometimes sounds or smells.   Plus, habits wear grooves in our software AND our hardware.  

Even new violins produce better sound and become better instruments by being played by an expert, a virtuoso – they get accustomed to the extraordinary vibration and the vibration changes the cellular structure of the wood.     Amazing right?!! 

  • Habits are not all bad… we love habits and having things become second nature to us.   Typing is a behavior we are trained to; language, driving, all are really great habits we have taken years to build.   Any mastery you have is a habit you have intentionally developed.    Congratulations!   
  • Habits are a type of hypnosis we cast on ourselves.    At first the habits work and we love having them, but if you find yourself trying to change a behavior that does not serve you anymore, than you have a bad habit.   No one makes us smoke, or bite our nails, or give up on our dreams.    We do all of that through the choices we make yet we act as if it was happening to us through some outside power.    Huh?  
  • Not all habits are obvious.   Some are, nail biting, being late, leaving cabinet doors open, clutter, etc.   Some are much more subtle.   Things like, being over busy or over committing, putting things off with a great justification, not doing complete work, doing work that does not make the most mission critical work your fledgling company needs done… 
  • Human behavior is extremely malleable throughout our whole life.    What?!   Yup, that’s right!  We can change anything at any time… like Dorothy in Munchkin Land, we just have to be ready for the responsibility of being in charge of our own future.     

Ok, so if this is all true, how do we break our unwanted behaviors?   

How to break bad habits is one of the tougher tasks of being an entrepreneur.  Mostly because we don’t always see them until we have been doing them for a while.   

A super common and hugely impactful habit that I had for many years was to put off tasks that emerged during the day until I had more time. 

In the moment,  I did not think I should stop what I was doing and deal with whatever just popped up because it would take me off what I was already doing… What I learned was sometimes you need to re-evaluate the issue that popped up and at least put it in a schedule for WHEN it WILL get done, or it never gets done.    

Why this is subtle habit is because I really thought that I would get to it later.  I also thought  that being overly busy would end one day when I had more success, or had sold my business, or retired… it was always a someday thing that I dangled in front of my own face – my dream life did not include working like a mad woman, but there I was, every day.    

Waking up to the fact that I had put things off until later a thousand+ times before and it always produced the same results, I saw it was time to recognize that more time is never coming!    The bad habit was pretending I would have more time one day.   I accepted that I was lying to myself and it was ruining my peace of mind.  That unconscious behavior was the path to running around like a chicken with its head cut off, which I did for years and just thought that was how it was supposed to look when you are super effective entrepreneur.   Busy, busy, busy.  

So every time I decided to put something off, I would remember I was choosing to be insane and overwhelmed  in a couple of weeks and I was painting myself into a corner for more things to “need” to be put off then too.  

So how did I change that behavior?  Make a New One!!

I made a new one…obviously, issues still came up, something would happen during the day, the phone would ring and it would be something that needed to be done.  The new habit I started was taking the time to schedule it, right then.    I keep a calendar on my desk so that I could check it immediately.    It took an extra 2 minutes, but it also kept my days to normal work lengths and I had the confidence that everything was going to get done in a timely manner and nothing would get neglected or forgotten.    

How Can You Get Started

I would suggest you journal your behaviors… write every day for at least 10 minutes for a couple of months and see what behaviors you have every day… places to look:

  • Morning routines
  • Lunch routines
  • Dinner routines
  • How do you handle your money?  Habits of shopping, saving, investing, or gift giving
  • When do you work? 
  • Your most creative time of day is____________
  • When do you exercise?  
  • When and how do you create meal plans?  
  • When and how do you do your research?   Dig deeper into what you are working on?  
  • When do you read?  
  • How do you keep track of ideas?    Notes you take?   Things you want and/or dream about?

All of these areas have many repetitive activities that may or may not serve you or fulfill your dream life goals.    So consider taking them on, one at a time — start slow, the cravings, the unconsciousness will surface loud and proud, so taking on more than one at a time will likely set you up for failure.    Start with one important habit that will give you a new level of mastery over power to accomplish your goals.  

For more reading on Causing Breakthroughs read: Dealing With Frustration and Despair

I started my first Creative Business when I was a single mom with four tiny children.   That was 25 years ago and I started Business 101 for Creative Entrepreneurs to give back.  I am so grateful for all the support did get while I was getting started, but more than anything I wished I had some business support, some mentoring or guidance.    I want you to know that I get how hard, confusing, and challenging it can be to be alone and have real questions with no one to ask.

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