How to change anything you don’t like about your life: Introducing the Behavior Replacement Method

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Kristin Zhivago

President & Founder

Kristin Zhivago, revenue coach, is the president of Zhivago Partners, a digital marketing management company, and author of Roadmap to Revenue: How to Sell the Way Your Customers Want to Buy. Zhivago and her team of digital marketing specialists focus on helping clients get to “ka-ching” by making it easier for their customers to find them, appreciate what they’re selling, and buy from them.

Speak with Kristin on her direct line: (401) 423-2400

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All of us have bad habits and character flaws; things that we’d like to change but find it difficult, if not impossible. As a result, we end up repeatedly disappointing ourselves—and others—and getting stuck in a rut. There is a better way, one that is not difficult and definitely possible. I’ve been testing it for a while now and am ready to talk about it. I call it the Behavior Replacement Method, or BRM for short.

No vacuum in the spiritual world

Years ago, I realized there is no such thing as a vacuum in the spiritual world. Things are either good or bad; comfortable or uncomfortable; uplifting or depressing; creative or destructive.

Even doing nothing is destructive, because the world keeps moving on even while we are staying still. And I think even the most passionate atheist would agree that we are spiritual beings. When you die, your body is still here and your spirit is not. That is the basic definition of death, which means that life is just the opposite: Your spirit still inhabits your body.

We are definitely spiritual beings, and one of the rules about the spiritual world is there is no “nothing.” There is a positive spirit or a negative one at work, in any and all situations. This method takes advantage of that reality, by acknowledging the negative and replacing it with a positive.

What you don’t like about yourself

It could be that you interrupt your spouse, and you don’t want to do that. Or that you get totally messed up during that time of the month. Or that you procrastinate. Or even that you eat or drink too much and it’s really hurting your body. Or that you lose your temper too easily. You know what you want to fix, but you haven’t been able to.

These are character flaws, and we all have them. Those who love us try to tell us—gently or not so gently—that these character flaws are causing problems in our lives, and keeping us from achieving our goals.

They are right, of course. You can’t make your dreams come true when you’re living in a nightmare. And, your less-than-optimum behaviors will trip you up, over and over, until you get rid of them. No one wants to live the life of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

The good news is, you don’t have to.

Behavior Replacement Method: Pick one. Replace it.

You know that behavior that is most tripping you up. We all have several, but there’s usually one that is particularly vexing and counterproductive.

So. The basic idea is that you replace it, with the polar opposite behavior.

Shy > Outgoing

Late > Punctual

Too talkative > Reflective

Not enough money > Learn how to make more

Helpful steps:

    1. Pick one. Don’t try to do more than one at any given time. You’ll get discouraged. You will know which one to pick; everyone is different, and you’ll know which one will make the biggest difference to you. Of course, you have to be adult enough to recognize where the problem is, and you might want to ask a friend which one would make the most difference.
    1. Identify the polar opposite. A word or phrase will come to you, when you focus on the unfortunate characteristic or behavior. Don’t be hasty with this; be quiet and let it come to you. You’ll know it’s right when it feels inspirational.
    1. Put out reminders. Post-its work. Just Bad > Good works. Single words. Easy to remember.
    1. Keep it in mind. Watch yourself. Recognize the opportunity to replace the undesirable behavior as you go through your day.
  1. Figure out how to make the new behavior work. If you are habitually late, look at why you’re late and what you need to do to be on time. In this case, it’s a matter of preparation, leaving enough time, and being realistic about what you can and cannot do in the last few minutes before you leave. Study others you know who are on time. Learn from them. Imitate them. That’s what actors do, and it works. They choose to behave a certain way while in front of the camera. You can do the same, even though there is no camera.

Success is within reach for anyone.

Our success depends almost exclusively on our behavior. As many wise people have said – and even wiser people have demonstrated – it’s not your circumstances that determine your success, it’s what you do with them. Someone born rich is just as capable of screwing up their life as someone born poor. We all have crosses to bear; we all have roadblocks and setbacks; &*(*&^ happens to all of us. Every single one.

There have been studies done about how long it takes to break a bad habit; I think I remember 13 weeks. But I have found that using this method makes it go a lot faster, in no small part because of the focus and the simplicity of it. There’s no drama, no blame, no shame. You just start doing the right thing, right now.

My husband has always said that the key to success is simply always doing the next right thing. He’s right; that’s all we have available to us at any given moment. The Behavior Replacement Method ties right into this idea. In this moment, we have a choice of Behavior A or Behavior B. This ONE time, we can choose Behavior B.

Of course, there will be some learning involved; there always is. I see life as a series of lessons, our job is to learn the lesson so we can move on to the next one.

Good luck to you.

Oh, and what does this have to do with digital marketing? A lot, actually. It’s a very competitive, fast-moving game, and we all have to be at the top of our own game in order to win.