Building New Habits Is Hard, Let’s Do This Small One Together

I’m a creative, a communicator, a storyteller. If you map out anything I do, the path is all winding and it’s drawn with every color of the rainbow.

I live with a retired Chief (U.S. Navy) who went in with a very Type A personality. His map is a straight line in black and white.

It takes me months to even begin to form a good habit. He makes a decision to do so and that habit is now ingrained in his essence.

So I get it, some people are really good at simply deciding and they now do a new habit religiously.

Then there are others like me. I decide, I really do. Then I think. Then ‘rationalize’. Then bargain. Then procrastinate. Then admonish. Then go to bed and repeat the whole process over again some other day.

Making a new habit is HARD.

But it is worth it, you just need to keep going.

“Fall Down seven times, get up eight”

Japanese proverb

Maybe there is a habit you want to create, yet it keeps kicking your rear end. Let’s try this. Let’s start with a smaller one.

You can do a smaller one! I know you can. Here’s one I challenge you to do for a week. Seven days, you can give me seven days of just one thing, right? Heck yeah, you can!

This one little habit sounds simple, yet it may get you close to biting your tongue off. No one will notice it, but they will feel it.

It’s right up there with James Clear’s straightforward advice:

“Shut up and do your reps”

James Clear

No reps involved! See, it’s getting better already, right?

It’s the ‘shut up’ part. But only in one very specific situation: when you’re given a compliment.

Here’s the challenge – when you are given a compliment, your new habit is two part:

  1. Say thank you (and mean it)
  2. Stop talking

That’s it.

This was one of the hardest habits I learned to break. I used to counter every compliment I ever got.

I like your shoes” – “thanks, I’ve had them forever…

“I love your bag” – “thanks, I got it on sale…

“Your hair looks really good” – “thanks, for once it decided to act right…”

What I was doing was devaluing myself. Audibly telling the world I didn’t deserve a compliment.

And it made people uncomfortable. Who wants to give a compliment to someone who combats you? Those responses were putting down their compliments (you like an old pair of shoes? You like a cheap bag? Although that one may not always be a devalue, especially if you get an amazing, steal deal – then you have to share, I mean, who doesn’t love a great score?).

The other uncomfortable part is, the compliment giver may take those comments as fishing for more. In reality, my comments were more of a neon flashing light pointing the way to my insecurities.

What if saying nothing makes you uncomfortable? Here are some alternatives:

  1. Say thank you – give a genuine compliment in return
  2. Say thank you – take a breath – introduce a new subject

The main point is to not cancel your compliment. I think there has been a significant decline in the number of compliments given, let’s see if we can turn that tide and not only give more compliments, but accept more, as well.


Are you ready to take the challenge? Start today! Then keep me posted. And if you need any encouragement – email me – Lisa (dot) McDonald (at) Career Polish (dot) com. You can do this!


I help amazing people get career happy and companies stay true to brand.

Coaching: Career, Emotional Intelligence, Confidence, Business, Brand, Yoga

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All opinions and views expressed in this article are my own, unless attributed. They’re normally pretty spot-on (because I’m obsessive about career topics and communications). The humor sprinkled in is Mr. B approved, my dog who thinks I’m hilarious (maybe because I’m his meal ticket).

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