Routine isn't all bad. But when you're completely stuck in old habits, you pretty much label yourself the snail on the racetrack. Todd Mitchem, speaker, Fortune 500 leadership consultant and author of the recently released book You, Disrupted, believes you have the power to jumpstart yourself into a completely new way of living where you're both fulfilled and back in control.
What holds people back from change
Mitchem identifies two major elements as locking people into habit. The first is a constant barrage of social media, which creates a sense of fulfillment and importance. You wait for likes or vent your frustrations on Facebook because it feels good in the moment, for example, but you're not really doing anything to make a difference. "We're learning to group think our way through life instead of relying on ourselves," Mitchem tells Inc. "and what has occurred in culture is that, instead of [social media being] tools that we are in control of, they've become hypnotic defaults that we're addicted to."
Hypercustomization is also a problem--everything from phones to advertising, Mitchem notes, is customized. While that customization has benefits, it can confirm what we think we are supposed to be and make us feel comfortable within specific patterns of behavior. It makes us expect that everyone will modify to us and, subsequently, puts us in a bubble of mediocrity inflated by the desire for outward acceptance.
Disruption is the key
Breaking free and changing in a dramatic way--that is, disrupting yourself--takes effort, as Mitchem admits. But it's not destructive, and in fact, is a fulfilling process that has benefits for both personal and work life.
"You can't be in a powerful relationship that will flourish over the long term if you are only focused on what it gives you," Mitchem says. "Instead, you need to disrupt yourself so that you are better equipped to ask, 'What can I give to the other person?' Only then can a long-term, sustainable union be formed.
"Imagine, too, if everyone in an office thought [in a disruptive] way," Mitchem points out. "Instead of HR or the leader working to customize every interaction to feed the whim of each person, the team would all be working toward common disruptive goals and taking ownership over themselves as contributors first and then group second."
4 steps to breaking free
In his public speaking, and as outlined in his book, Mitchem claims in there are just four steps to get yourself out of your rut and start living with purpose. You'll know the steps can't wait when you're constantly in pain, angry, complaining or engaging in negative self-talk.
1. Accept full ownership over your actions, behaviors and happiness.
In this initial stage, you abandon the victim mentality and acknowledge that you alone are responsible for your outcome. You remove whatever temptations you can (no one can remove 100 percent) and make a conscious choice to stop complaining just to satisfy your inner self. Although you align yourself with people who can support you, don't be surprised if you have to abandon some toxic relationships, too. "Often the people closest to us are terrified if we start to have big goals, dreams or disruptive ideas," says Mitchem. "They will work hard, because of their habits, to pull us back down to reality in the name of 'being safe'."
2. Find an intentional why, a drive to achieve growth in some area of your life, that's more powerful than the habitual reasons you currently behave the way you do.
An intentional why or purpose is what keeps you going even against those temptations you can't remove, or what keeps you from giving up when new temptations replace old ones. Maybe it's being home more for your kids or not feeling crappy physically anymore. There's no right or wrong. Everyone's motivations are unique. It just has to be personal and something that strikes a strong emotional response in you.
3. Decide when you are going to initiate the change(s).
Hint: Sooner is almost always better than later. Still, there might be some logistical elements to consider.
"Humans, at least as far as I can see, were not meant to eke through life...only to perish with great disruptive stuff bottled up inside of them," Mitchem stresses. "[And] we are always living in this culture where we have these false emergencies. But the real urgency is, our time's going to run out. And we don't know when. So the when to make these changes is now."
If you think of yourself like a computer, then the last step of the disruption process is like a soft reset. You can't get rid of all your data (your past) completely. But you shut down and/or fix what's buggy and clear out what's not valuable to you, bringing in new rule sets or applications to benefit your life. Then you start fresh.
Going through this process won't happen overnight, but anyone can do it. (Yes, you.) Let today be the day you start the journey. You've got absolutely nothing to lose.