I sat across from him itching and feeling unsettled. His chest hair was poking out from his shirt, which was unbuttoned far too low for a doctor, surely. Was he for real? I kindly asked for a blood test this time after my external sources (Google) indicated that was the next step. He said, “That’s not necessary.” I then asked him to prescribe me some drugs I’d seen recommended on a medical blog in Australia. His response “You shouldn’t tell a Doctor what to do.” Come on I thought! It had been three months and three trips to see him later, I was seriously sleep deprived going into a demanding new job, and still covered in delightfully itchy red welts or hives as the medical profession so fondly coined them. I was about done with this first world problem. Before London I’d been living in the French Alps for four months, snowboarding, eating my body weight in baguette and cheese, and drinking more vin rouge than appropriate. In hindsight, I see my body had probably decided enough was enough and was delivering me a wakeup call. It was time to listen. Plus with a boat trip to Croatia with 30 friends only a few weeks away, I felt rather motivated to fix this problem. Oh and did I mention I was single? Hmmm.

Long story short, I started eating better, drinking (a little) less and exercising more, BUT the big one – I decided to try and quit smoking (again). I didn’t realise that this last choice would change everything, and not in the way you might think. My logical brain knew that smoking must be doing some not so great stuff to my insides and I had wanted to quit for a while but (here comes the excuse) I was 25 living a rather hedonistic life in London at the time and after a few failed attempts, it was always just “too hard” and the “wrong time”.

Deep down, I now realize I was scared I didn’t have the willpower to stop.

Despite this I decided to have another crack. I picked up the Alan Carr Quit Smoking book, and to my absolute surprise four weeks later, I hadn’t touched a cigarette and I didn’t have a single red welty friend in sight! F*ck me. I felt a million bucks. I won’t lie I was shocked by my results. I now realise years later that while the physical benefits of all those choices were and continue to be amazing, it was the self-esteem and confidence I gained that was priceless. From that moment I had evidence that I could do something I really thought I couldn’t. I started to wonder what else I might be able to do? And that shift in thinking was the beginning of a lot of positive change in my life.

As a coach, I can now see what I had experienced was a massive jump in self-belief. I can also explain it with two powerful coaching concepts that I instill in all of my client’s.

Firstly – stack the pain we associate to a habit higher than the perceived pleasure we gain from that habit and we create incredible motivation for change.

Secondly – confidence and self-belief grows WITH action and NOT before.

In other words for me, the perceived cost of smoking in my mind started to overpower the perceived benefits. Smoking suddenly became a major contributor to my unhappiness. It was noticeably affecting my health, impacting my work performance, and the real clincher, it was affecting my love life. As soon as those scales tipped, letting go of an 11-year habit overnight wasn’t that difficult after all. What I know now is that at any time we can attach healthy pain to an unwanted behaviour or habit to create a strong desire to change. We can also stack a strong ‘why’ in our minds. I do it with clients every day. We don’t need to wait until the pain literally comes to us as in this case either. We can call on future pain to motivate.

So if you’re ready to ditch an unhelpful habit in your life, grab a pen and take a moment to answer these questions below.

  • What is the real cost if you continue this habit?

  • What are you sacrificing?

  • Who else is impacted by this habit?

  • How will you continue to feel about yourself?

  • What is there to gain by choosing to let go of this habit?

  • What else might you experience instead?

  • What else might be possible for you?

  • How will choosing to let it go impact your self-esteem?

  • How will it contribute to who you want to be?

You’ve likely used this strategy without awareness in your past. We call it the pain versus pleasure model. You can now consciously use it at any time to help you make progress in your life in any area. The key though is to not shy away from the pain. Go into detail because pain is one of our most powerful motivators.

If you’d like to know more or would love some support kicking a habit once and for all CLICK HERE.

Sarah xx