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Hosted by Sunday Times best-selling author Emma Gannon, Business Coaching Journal was invited to an insightful Tap into Success panel discussion exploring the importance of making change, courtesy of Nicorette QuickMist SmartTrack. The panel discussed understanding and overcoming barriers to success, the best ways to form new habits, and motivation to change.

Among the panelists was ITV psychologist Emma Kenny whose life advise section on This Morning is one that draws a lot of viewership.

ITV Emma Kenny Making Change motivation
ITV Emma Kenny

Speaking of change the TV psychologist explained that one of the most important things is to be specific about your goals. “break it into achievable milestones and it will make you accountable and responsible.” Said Emma. “It can take anywhere between eighteen and two hundred sixty-six days to form a new habit. So, making small incremental changes on a path to success will give you the positive rewards along the way that will keep you motivated and committed.” She continued: “Always give yourself rewards on the path.”

Introduce a new habit

For anyone wanting to implement some long-lasting changes in their lives, the psychologist recommends, it is best to introduce new, better habits. “You might need to deal with the grief process over your habit. Take smoking, for example, a cigarette break is more than just a cigarette. More than just drug dependency. It’s the ritual. The whole ritual is as much about communication and socialisation. So, when you want to break that habit, you have to think about how you going to articulate the meaning that is built into a bad habit. Unpicking your habits is very helpful.”

Speaking of another example that’s been in the news lately due to the 2020 lockdown – alcohol – Emma pointed out that for many it might be sort of a ‘punctuation mark’ from professional to personal. Like when you come from work and get a glass of champagne of Lambrusco to ‘unwind’.

Emma Kenny on forming lasting positive change
Emma Kenny

“It’s thanks to self-regulation of our brain. We have part of our brain called the amygdala to thank for that. Its job is to save us from difficult situations. Like running away from danger. It doesn’t have much reasoning but it knows what to do in situations like stress. The easiest way to release stress is to have a bit of alcohol or cigarette because of the chemical reaction it produces so it will resort to the quickest ways of achieving the relief of stress. It’s knowing that voice and countering that voice is very important in order to maintain change.”

Fear not, dear reader, installing a new habit is easier than just getting rid of an old one, according to Emma. “Our brain doesn’t like to abandon old habits because it believed in a process that worked for so long. So, it’s important to create a craving for that change by means of reward. Think about what you can treat yourself with when you achieve your next milestone to keep motivated.”

Motivation to change

“If we are discontented with certain aspects of who we are it’s not there to annoy you it’s there to motivate us. We are taught to run away from a lot of negative feelings and that’s why we are getting into bad habits for example. Whereas if we are taught to sit with those feelings and see them as emotional prompts to change,” explained the psychologist. A lot of people need change when they’ve lost a sense of passion for what they do.

“Recognising and revisiting things that excite us can make a huge impact and make out changes possible.” So, next time you plan to implement long-lasting changes in your life, remember to keep the passion and craving for change going. Set the rewards along the way that will keep you going every day. “And if you slip up and make mistake. It’s okay. Don’t need to sabotage yourself as some people do. It’s key to know that it’s human nature to be imperfect and we should always focus on the progress we made and not on a mistake,” encourages Emma.