When the lady at my local nursery told me she had just “deadheaded” the marigolds I was buying to plant around the perimeter of my vegetable garden to discourage rabbits and groundhogs, I had never heard of that term. Granted, I am a novice when it comes to gardening, so I asked what that was. She explained it just meant pinching or cutting off the dead flowers so the plant wasn’t wasting its energy on blooms that no longer needed to be nourished. Besides making the plant look more attractive, one of the benefits of deadheading is that the bloom time is extended.
“As flowers shed their petals and begin to form seedheads, energy is focused into the development of the seeds, rather than the flowers. Regular deadheading, however, keeps this energy on the flowers, resulting in healthier plants and continued bloom.”
It made perfect sense and it got me to thinking.
How many “dead” habits do we nourish when they are no longer providing us with any benefit? The longer we neglect removing those habits that no longer serve us, the more we are actually developing and strengthening them, i.e. focusing our energy into developing the seeds.
What’s a dead habit? One we just keep perpetuating without intentionally considering whether it benefits us or not. It could be automatically choosing a bagel as your go-to breakfast every morning because it’s fast and easy (and then wondering why you are having trouble losing weight!).
It could be the constant negative chatter that runs through your mind all day long like “I’ll always be overweight” or “Everyone in my family has heart problems” or “I don’t like vegetables” or “Eating healthy food is too expensive” and wondering why you are so discouraged and stuck in a rut.
So how do you “deadhead” those habits that are so ingrained in your subconscious that they seem to run on autopilot? Here are my 5 best tips:
1. First, do you really want to deadhead them? Be honest because if you really don’t – you won’t.
2. Have a really powerful reason for wanting to make these changes. This has to be something that really speaks to you and provides the motivation to stick with it when it gets challenging – and it will. Is it to have the energy to keep up with your children or grandchildren? Is it to avoid developing diabetes or heart disease like your parents? Is it to look your best? It’s different for each of us. It just has to be totally personal and extremely powerful for you.
3. Become aware. Take a week and note what you do daily in your food/fitness log or just keep a running list. If it’s that negative self-talk, try to write those thoughts down as you notice them. If it is something like making a wrong food choice – again, pay attention. Keep track of your meals for a week or so and then you can objectively evaluate them to see where you can make effective changes.
4. Don’t try to change everything all at once! One of the principles of my coaching is taking what I call baby steps. Make small changes gradually. Choose one small thing to change and stick with that for at least 2 weeks or until you have successfully begun replacing it with a positive, healthy habit. If you try to change too much at once or make too big a change, you’ll become overwhelmed and frustrated and be much more likely to give up.
5. Be patient with yourself. Old habits sometimes die hard! You’ll most likely slip up a few times. It’s ok. The point is to move in the right direction as consistently as possible. A slip here and there will not ruin all your efforts. Just recommit by reminding yourself why you chose to make the change.
If you commit to deadheading some of your habits, you can extend your “bloom” time!
What habits in your life need to be “deadheaded?”