BOSTON – Achieving success or struggling depends on many factors, but habits go a long way toward determining either outcome, research showed.
Breaking bad habits and cultivating good ones can be difficult, and willpower alone isn’t enough, Ngan Nguyen, a leadership coach and author of “Self-Defined Success: You Already Have Everything It Takes,” said. “You can’t create the life you want unless you replace bad habits, and that happens by developing a new mindset. These are new thought processes that are linked to your new clarity of vision for your life.
“Usually, some sort of stimuli triggers our habits. Breaking a habit requires changing the action that we take when the stimuli appear. Repeated over and over, these new, more constructive thoughts and resulting positive actions automatically become the new habit.”
Nguyen offered the following tips to transform bad habits into good habits that lead to success.
First, clarify your life vision.
“Reassessing what we want out of life can provide a more efficient roadmap of goals and how to reach them,” Nguyen said. “Translate your longings and discontents into an actionable, crystallized vision that propels you forward. If you feel stuck, a powerful vision that’s in alignment with your core values is the most critical first step in liberating yourself and creating the results you want. Good habits flow from an energizing new life vision.”
Don’t let doubt or worry hold you back.
“Distinguish between believing if you deserve to live your dream life, and whether or not it is possible,” Nguyen said. “You don’t want to talk yourself out of the vision you have crafted for your life based on whether or not you think it is possible. It is absolutely possible, because if you can imagine the outcome, then there is a way. Knowing that, your new habits stay consistent.”
Replace negative beliefs with positive, empowering thoughts. Nguyen said habits that hinder success often stem from negative thoughts. Some common ones are beliefs about ourselves, other people, money and success.
“People think, ‘I’m not good enough, not smart enough,’ or ‘Other people will deceive me’ and ‘Money is scarce and hard to earn,’ ” Nguyen said. “Changing our beliefs to positive is what will allow us to access ideas and allow new positive perception to enter our consciousness. If we recognize that a thought doesn’t serve us, then we can choose to think differently when a stimulus to think negatively occurs. Over time, it becomes easier to think differently because new neural pathways are strengthened with our persistence.”
Analyze your stories.
“Stories are how we live our lives,” Nguyen said. “The way we each live is guided by our beliefs, habits, values and emotions. It becomes destructive when patterns repeat in our lives that we do not desire, like always having problems with money or the inability to have a fulfilling relationship. If similar patterns play out that we do not like, we can identify what the underlying belief is by taking an objective look at the story.
“It is when your beliefs, thoughts and emotions completely align with the person who is living their new, clarified vision that the life they want becomes possible,” Nguyen said. “New, good habits become second nature, and while success is never automatic, good habits make it far more likely.”
Ngan Nguyen, author of “Self-Defined Success: You Have Everything It Takes,” is the founder and CEO of Cintamani Group, an executive coaching and consulting firm. Nguyen graduated with a double honors degree in biochemistry-biophysics and bioengineering from Oregon State University and completed a research fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in nanotechnology. For more information, visit www.nganhnguyen.com.