Taking a risk with habits

In my work as a coach, one thing that no longer surprises me is the impact of disempowering habits!


I coach a wide range of individuals – from managers and small business owners to executive staff in large corporations. I have seen the effect of disempowering habits in all of these roles.

One of my jobs as a coach is to be like 'Sherlock Holmes', as I work with my clients to help them resolve the challenges they face in their life and work and to achieve their goals. I am always on the lookout for signs of habits that no longer serve my clients.

Disempowering habits can be subtle, and it can be easy to miss them. For example, in a recent conversation with a client, I noticed every time he talked about his dream to create a new business, he would initially have a look of excitement on his face. However, that look quickly changed to a serious expression as he said the word, 'but'...

"I would really like to create a business as I would have more control over my life... but I can’t see it working." (The client then describes several ways why creating a business wouldn’t work.)

As I explored this further, I heard the word 'but' several times as he described what he would like to achieve in his life and work. It was as though he would allow himself to become see the possibility of an exciting future, but would then immediately shut down the excitement with the word.

He had a habit of saying 'but'. It was clear to see this was limiting his potential.

Letting go of perceived risks 

The brain’s primary role is to keep us safe. It is always on the lookout for situations that are unsafe and does what it can to alert us. This is a good thing. However, if left unchecked it is possible to be 'too safe'. It tries to compare the current situation with a memory we have of a similar event. But it doesn’t always get it right!

There is a potential risk in everything we do. But there is also a potential risk in doing nothing. One of the risks of doing nothing is missing opportunities. In my client’s case, his habit of saying 'but' straight after describing his dream was preventing him from taking action towards his dream and creating a business.

I am not suggesting 'throwing caution to the wind'’ and taking a risk just for the sake of it. But I am suggesting that spending more time thinking about how to turn a (perceived) 'risky decision' into a calculated risk can be very helpful and can help prepare a safer foundation for moving in a new direction in life and work.

If my client’s example resonates with you, it can be helpful to ask yourself questions to better evaluate future options in your life and work and turn what you may have perceived as a risk into a calculated risk:

  • What’s the worst that could happen?
  • What’s the best that could happen?
  • Who do I know that I could talk to about the direction that I want to go in? (i.e. someone who has already made that decision or achieved what you want to achieve.)
  • If I make this decision, how would I know if it’s not working out?
  • If that were to happen, what could I do?
  • What’s my plan B, C, etc.?

If you want to take this a stage further, try listening out for the word 'but' in your conversations. You may just prevent a missed opportunity for someone else!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Llanrwst, Conwy, LL26
Written by Kevin Thomas, Business & Life Coach
Llanrwst, Conwy, LL26

Kevin is a Business & Life Coach. He helps small business owners to find direction in their life and work; and helps them to develop their confidence, focus and drive.

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