Episode 7

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Published on:

23rd Feb 2023

How to Create Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

In this week's episode, Sarah and Tazmin talk about how to create good habits and break bad ones.

About 'The SEO Mindset' Podcast

Build your inner confidence and thrive.

The SEO Mindset is a weekly podcast that will give you actionable tips, guidance and advice to help you not only build your inner confidence but to also thrive in your career.

Each week we will cover topics specific to careers in the SEO industry but also broader topics too including professional and personal development.

Your hosts are Life Coach Tazmin Suleman and SEO Manager Sarah McDowell, who between them have over 20 years of experience working in the industry.

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Transcript
Sarah:

Hello everyone. Thank you very much for joining us for another episode of The SEO Mindset. This week it is the originals, the OG's. This is me and Tazmin who will be doing this episode, and we'll be discussing all about habits. Okay, so this topic will cover how to create good habits. So habits that are good for us and healthy, and also we all have them, but how to break those niggling bad ones, right? Ways that we can do that and identify, I suppose, what are bad. Before we get into that, in this week's episode, just a little reminder of the ways that you can support us. So we are on Buy Me a Coffee so you can give us a one off donation and support us that way. The URL is theseomindset.co.uk/coffee. That link is in the show notes. And you can also subscribe, right? So if you subscribe to us, then you get notified whenever there's a new episode. So you never have to wonder, you'll get notified. So head on over again to seomindset.co.uk/listen because then you'll be able to pick your platform of choice and it's a simple few click. So the link for that will also be in this episode, show notes. Hello, Tazmin.

Tazmin:

Hello.

Sarah:

You've never been caught in OG with the original? With OGS.

Tazmin:

Excellent. Really well. Really well. Thank you. How about you?

Sarah:

I'm very well. We're having a naughty dinner tonight, so take away. So I'm looking forward to that. So I do apologise if anyone hears my stomach rumble.

Tazmin:

Takeaways are good every now and then, all about wow.

Sarah:

We're talking about habits, right? So over to you.

Tazmin:

So I wanted to do an episode on habits because I listened to a book recently, which I would recommend to everyone called Atomic Habits by James Clear. We can put the link somewhere for our listeners. And today's episode is by no way a comprehensive summary of the book. It is more snippets of it and how we can apply. So what the book is saying is, it's great to have goals. The goals give us direction, but what's actually going to get us there? And a lot of us would have spent in the recent months crafting out goals, spent ages and ages, and even the actions that will get us there, but not the habits that we can perform each and every day. And there's two quotes. I believe they're both from the book, or definitely one is goals are the results we want to achieve. Systems are the processes that lead us to the results. And by systems, they mean habits. And the second one is life is the sum of your habits. What you do repeatedly is the person you become. So in one of the videos I watched of him, he said, your bank balance is the lagging effect of your money habits, right? Your health. I think he may have said, your waste you get the jiz is the lagging effect of your health habits. And if you think about things that are in your life that you would prefer were different, it's no good saying I want to get healthier. What does that mean? You may fine tune it a bit more, saying, I want to lose this much weight or I want to be able to run this distance again. That's great. What are you going to do every single day that will get you that result? And what he says also is, it's not about doing the thing, it's about being the person. So a runner will run. So that's the habit. And when we just focus on the goal, we're focusing on the outcome. So your goal may be, I want to lose five kilos. Okay, you've lost it now what happens then? But if you build a habit of eating a certain way, walking a certain distance, whatever it is, then you forget about the goal. You just implement that habit because you are a person who eats healthily. You are a person who exercises.

Sarah:

And I guess it's like the really small habits, right? And I never thought of it like this, that yeah, your goal is your end result. You need a way of getting there. For example, habits could be like when you go for a snack, have healthy snacks in, so then you go and grab a handful of nuts or you pick up a banana. Or for example, a habit could be you decide that anywhere that's under a mile and it's safe to get there, you could walk, right? So, yeah, those are just some of the things that I thought just off the top of my head, because we.

Tazmin:

Never have to think about brushing our teeth. It's a habit.

Sarah:

No.

Tazmin:

And if you think about the things that you do day by day, every single day, they're so wired into our programming. And the idea is that any good habit you want to cultivate or bad habit that you want to break more. So the good habit, it's about cultivating your programming so it just becomes automatic. And the more of these if you imagine a day where everything you did became this ritual and every little habit that you performed was helping you get to where you wanted to get to, how productive would that be?

Sarah:

Too productive?

Tazmin:

No. I don't know if I could ever get to be like that. But I have started since reading the book Cultivating a Few Little Habits, where I think, I'm just going to go and do it. And the more I'm doing it, the more it's becoming second nature. So he then talks about the four stages or steps of a habit, and I would recommend listening to him on audible. He's a very humble speaker and he says, I've not created anything new in this. I've put together decades, centuries of wisdom and a few bits of my application and then he says if there's anything you like about the book, then it'll be because of all of the wisdom that I have found before and if there's something you don't like, it'll probably be me putting himself down. But he has put so much in there and I haven't been on the website, but apparently there's lots of resources and backing material on the website. So he says there's four stages of a habit. One is the cue. That's a thing that predicts a reward, because each habit happens and forms into a habit because you get a reward at the end. So there's the queue, the information that predicts your reward. There's the craving, that's the trigger that helps us act. There's a response, which is the actual habit, and the reward, which is the feeling of satisfaction that comes at the end of every habit. It completes the loop. So putting it into perspective, say you're walking down the street and you smell freshly baked bread. That's the cue. You then crave the bread you want to, which is the craving. You buy the bread, which is the response. You eat the bread, which is the reward. And now there is an association of walking down that street and buying bread. And what he says is that the response, which is the actual habit. If it takes too much effort, you won't do it. So in the same scenario, you're walking down the street, you smell the bread, you crave the bread, you want to go and buy the bread, but there is a huge queue and you can't be bothered or you look at the price and it's beyond what you would pay for it. So if it takes too much mental or physical effort, you won't do it, okay? And if the reward isn't satisfying, again, you're not going to do it.

Sarah:

So is this where it lends itself to break in? So if you've got this goal, you need to break it down, because if you feel that something's too big to tackle, you're not going to do it. Whereas if you break them down into smaller habits, right, and there's a reward and a trigger, like we say, is that a way of looking at it?

Tazmin:

That could be a way. I like tea. I do like drinking my tea, but I have formed a habit of needing to have something to dunk into the tea, okay? So if I look at that, I wake up in the morning and I will go downstairs and make a cup of tea and then when I sip that, I crave the biscuits. And it is so easy for me to get one of these biscuits because it is just in the cupboard near where everything else lives. And the reward of taking that biscuit and eating it is such a lot of satisfaction because I have now associated tea with biscuits. Another thing he says, which is really good, is that to break that habit, takes one decision. So he uses the example of in the evening, every day, his wife and him will either finish work and go to the gym, or finish work, sit down on the sofa, watch Netflix, and get a takeaway. The two scenarios are very different. The results are very different. But he said the actual point that we make the decision of either getting into our gym clothes or getting into our Pyjamas takes us two minutes. So using my tea scenario, if I take my cup of tea and go away from the kitchen, I've now created a whole new picture, because I'm perfectly capable of drinking a cup of tea without a biscuit. But if I'm out of the kitchen, it happens. If I'm in the kitchen, it doesn't happen.

Sarah:

Well, you've created physical space between you and the biscuit as well. Okay. So I suppose because I've heard a good tactic is to if you want to do a workout or exercise in the morning, put your clothes out the night before, because that's like and put them next to your bed, right? Because, again, that's making it easier for you. Rather than having to get up, finding stuff, fumbling around in the dark, you might wake up your sleeping dog, and they bark and wake up your park there. If you make it really super easy for you, the clothes are there, roll it out of bed, put them on, and then you're out the door.

Tazmin:

There are ways that you can form a good habit and how to break a bad habit. And I thought we could take a little break and then go through that big chunk of information after that.

Sarah:

That sounds wonderful.

Tazmin:

Excellent. So, Sarah, we're back from the break. Have you had a chance to think about some habits you want to form or some bad habits you want to break?

Sarah:

Loads. I think there's definite habits that I want to break. One habit is like drinking too much coffee. That feels like a habit that I want to get rid of. But another habit that I want to do is I want to do more stretching, because, yeah, stretching is good for us. It keeps us limber.

Tazmin:

All right, let's go through how to create a good habit, how to break a bad habit, and things that we can do to make these habits more obvious to us and help make them stick. To create the good habit, so we talked about cue, craving, response, and reward. Cue make it obvious. Whatever you want to do, make it really obvious. Craving make it attractive. Response make it easy, and the rewards make it satisfying. So one of the things that I'm trying to do with this is moving more, exercising more. So making it obvious. It is something that I will add to part of my morning routine. So it's there. It's in front of me. Make it attractive. So one of the things that I have started to do a bit more than before because I do like going for a walk around my lake. But it's not my lake. But, you know, it's a lake.

Sarah:

You own a lake. Someone's doing well.

Tazmin:

It's so beautiful. So I started doing these Bollywood workouts on YouTube and there's so much fun, so craving, that I've now they're always smiling on there and happy. So that's the thing that makes it attractive, make it easy. The remote's there, the TV is there, as you said before the break, the clothes that I need to wear are there, ready to put on and make it satisfying. Well, it is because I have a little bit of a dance. The music is wonderful, but she's really good at engaging the people. And for people like me, where my coordination isn't great, she almost has like subtitles saying, next we are going to do this works brilliantly for me. And at the end of it, I feel really good. Yeah. So can you think of a habit that you want to form where we live?

Sarah:

Yes. Can I get in on the Bollywood? Because that sounds fun. So stretching then. I said that I want to do more stretching. Are you allowed to? I don't know whether this is cheating, but could I? So when I'm watching Netflix, because I'm always going to probably watch an episode or something a day. So could I do some stretching while I am watching an episode? Because then what's the difference? Walk me through the different so what's the first one?

Tazmin:

So I'm going to jump. I was going to talk about it a bit later, but it's really relevant now. So one things he suggests is habit stacking. So if you already have a habit of watching Netflix or you're going to watch Netflix, then have that association with stretching in Netflix.

Sarah:

Right.

Tazmin:

Using the same goal of stretching and using my old tea thing, because I drink so much that I will fill the kettle, I'll let it boil. And we've got a timer. So we have a three minute timer for brewing time. So once I've poured the water, I know I've got three minutes. So all in all, I've got between four and five minutes. And in that time, I'll either try and do some sort of stretches or movement, or I'll move in some way or shape. I look like an idiot in my kitchen, my arms waving around and my legs going here, in there. But for me, it's a really good use of five minutes.

Sarah:

Okay, so that stacking.

Tazmin:

Yeah, I've stacked, making a cup of tea with doing stretches.

Sarah:

So while I'm waiting for my coffee machine, maybe I could set myself because I reckon I could hold a deep squat or a deep lunge for while my coffee is going on, right?

Tazmin:

Yeah.

Sarah:

I think habit stacking is a really good one because yeah, you're already in a habit, so you may as well make the most of it.

Tazmin:

Yeah. Another thing that I've been using, the good habits is on Sundays I will meal prep and everything is in the fridge. So rather than thinking, what am I going to eat? I know what I'm going to eat, I know it's healthy and I know it's in the fridge. So I've made it obvious. Craving make it attractive. These are all things that I've created and they are to suit my palates, rather than just have a bowl of cut up veg, which isn't going to really inspire me at all. So it's attractive, it's in the fridge, it's easy and it tastes great, so it's satisfying. So usually Monday to Thursday we're good, then Friday, when the full food runs out, we have lost the track. The other thing that I've been doing is making extra and putting in the freezer. So again, it's winning all around.

Sarah:

I'm just thinking, like some examples in the workplace or within an SEO setting, one of the habits that I probably want to get out of is like going to cheque emails a bit too often, or going to cheque slack messages a bit too often, because then that takes away from focus time of doing some project. So, yeah, how could this system be used?

Tazmin:

So it's saying how to break a bad habit. And I must admit, I have not tried to, but maybe we could have a go at using that example. Let's give it a go. So break a bad habit you invert. So the queue, make it invisible rather.

Sarah:

Than make it turn off your notifications.

Tazmin:

Yeah, turn it off. Craving make it unattractive. How could we make it unattractive?

Sarah:

How would you make so we've turned off the notifications. So you got to make it unattractive in your head, don't you? Unless you just establish in your head that it's taken time away from this focus.

Tazmin:

That could be we might have a little think about that, but I'm going to go to the next one, which is response make it difficult. So, for example, if it's your phone notifications that are bothering you, it would be putting it in the other room.

Sarah:

Yes. So what you could do is because some people have slack communication on their phone, right, on their personal phone, and then it leaks into your personal time. So, yeah, take your phone, put it away from you. So that's a good make it make it difficult. You could also there will be a way to block emails or something like that, like getting onto emails or getting yeah.

Tazmin:

And the reward is make it unsatisfying. So, again, like I said, because I haven't tried how to break a bad habit, but using my exercise formation of a good habit now, not doing it feels unsatisfying.

Sarah:

Yes. Yeah. Well, if you get into a habit of, okay, I'm only going to cheque my messages in the morning, straight after work and before I finish, you will see like the reward will be like the projects that you get done and the feedback that you get from work. Right. So then if you don't do that, then you know that you're not going to be as productive and you're not going to get as much stuff as you want to. So that's going to negatively impact how you feel.

Tazmin:

I think in the book he uses an example of somebody who uses an example of the importance of having an accountability partner. And in one example, there was a particular person, he wanted to lose some weight, so he drew up a contract saying, I will walk this much or I will do this thing. And the punishment of him not doing it was he would give his personal trainer $100 and his wife $500. So that make that reward of not going out for that run unsatisfying would be because it would cost him $600 each time there is punishment associated and it could be anything. Again. Another example was there was a person who had a habit. He wanted to break off snoozing and staying in bed. And he set up his Twitter so that if he hadn't done something, that a tweet would go out to say, I'm a lazy so and so because I'm still in business. So you got to create a punishment for yourself.

Sarah:

That's fun. Definitely fun. I suppose that's sort of like a swear jar, isn't it? So what you could have is like an exercise jar. So every time you don't do something when he goes into a pot, but then where does that pot go? It could be good and it could go to charity, but then, yeah, that's a good reward in itself. Or maybe so. Something that my parents did is they created a little club with one of their other friends and they met every week and they all put in like £1.50 and this is for a year. And then at the end, whoever was the biggest loser of weight, or they were the closest to their goal, they got to decide because that money would then go towards an activity, a fun activity to do. So the winner would pick what that activity would be.

Tazmin:

Sounds fun. Sounds like a good idea. Make it unsatisfying. I suppose for me, if I see that biscuit jar going down, I feel a bit ashamed. Whereas the biscuit used to be satisfying, now seeing that the jar is depleting makes me feel like, okay, that's not okay, too many biscuits. But one thing that he suggests so you were asking, how do you make things stick? One thing he suggests is track your habits just to acknowledge what habits you have. Because if you have a habit of reading more but you're not reading at all, that's not going to get you there. If you want to read 20 books this year and don't have a habit of reading, then it's not going to help. But to make it easier, he says start small so it could be read one page a day or read one line a day, invariably going to open it up and not going to stop as a line. One of the people that he worked with wanted to work out more and he said, okay, go to the gym, get your clothes on and go to the gym, but you only have to be there for a minute and then you come back again. And the idea was to get into the habit of going to the gym and being a gym frequenting person, because when you're there, then you're going to start working out. But if you have this thing of I've got to go five times a week and it's going to be for an hour, you're making that so unachievable. The idea is become that person and you will do that thing.

Sarah:

And that's very daunting as well, as well, like if you could say to yourself, right, going to put my gym clothes on, I'm going to be there for a minute, you're going to end up being there for more than a minute, aren't you? Awesome. All right, so you said track your.

Tazmin:

Habits and when you have decided which habits you want to form or have a checklist, so that physical thing of ticking it off will make you feel good.

Sarah:

Yeah.

Tazmin:

And the other thing he was saying about having an accountability partner and the habit stacking awesome.

Sarah:

Well, yeah, definitely. Habits are important, aren't they?

Tazmin:

If you think of all the things you do without even thinking yeah. And if you could pick up a book and read without it being feeling like there's any resistance, you just do it and you just go for a walk and you just concentrate on your work without the distraction. Because notifications and social media, they're a distraction, they're a bad habit. I am stuck with my work, what am I going to do? I hear that ping, I pick up the phone, I then go on social media, I watch some nonsense on there, and then I come back again and that's become a habit. So every time I'm now stuck, I've associated it with watching some nonsense on social media.

Sarah:

Okay, yeah, 100%. I suppose when you're tracking your habits and stuff, it's tracking also we'll be mindful of what's getting in the way as well and what are the distractions. This has been a very good topic. Thank you.

Tazmin:

Thank you. Sorry, I just wanted to add that it's the little things that you do every single day that will get you further than creating these big actions. So lots of little things.

Sarah:

So my main takeaway from this episode is habits are important, right? And you've just got to be realistic. Start small with your habits and yeah, be aware of what habits you've got, what ones you want to break out of or stop. But it's definitely really important, isn't it?

Tazmin:

It is. And you know what, it takes time for a habit to form, so be kind to yourself. And if you if one day hasn't gone well, just get back on it. Don't beat yourself up. Try again tomorrow. Keep trying, keep going, because eventually that'll become part of your life. Eventually, Sarah, I'll be able to drink a cup of tea without looking at the biscuit jar.

Sarah:

You won't even think about think about it.

Tazmin:

And I have been thinking less and less about the biscuits, I must admit.

Sarah:

Tash, my partner, drinks biscuit tea. Biscuit flavoured tea.

Tazmin:

I've heard of this. Does she enjoy it?

Sarah:

She loves it. She?

Tazmin:

Yeah.

Sarah:

Can't get enough of it. But she got biscuit flavoured tea because she felt like because she was getting to a point where she needed biscuits to dunk in her tea, but it was like she needed to dunk, drink dunk, so she was getting through biscuits because she always needed it with a tea, so she got biscuit tea instead. So that's how she broke her biscuit and tea habit.

Tazmin:

I will give that a go. I'll definitely give that a go.

Sarah:

Awesome. Yeah, that was an awesome episode. Thank you for steering the ship on that one. That was really good.

Tazmin:

Thank you very much.

Sarah:

So, yeah, hopefully people after this episode are going to be thinking more about habits and what they can do and, yeah, tracking them and all that good stuff. So, yeah, before we sign off, I would just like to remind people of the ways that they could donate. What would you like to do, Tazmin? What are the two ways?

Tazmin:

Oh, gosh. They could go to Buy me a Coffee page, which is at, and I've forgotten.

Sarah:

They're in the show notes. So even if you've forgotten, go to the show notes. But, yes, it is, I think, off the top of my head, theseomindset.co.uk/coffee. But, yeah, there will be a link in the show notes.

Tazmin:

Please, everyone, spread the word. More people that know about this podcast, the more we can keep it going, the more we can add value. Sarah and I were talking about what it means to us, this podcast, and we're so passionate about sharing the knowledge that we hope will add value to your careers, add value to your life. So, yes, tell anyone and everyone about it.

Sarah:

Please. Please do. Right, goodbye and until next time, enjoy your takeaway.

Tazmin:

Sarah, enjoy your biscuits.

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About the Podcast

The SEO Mindset Podcast
Personal growth tips to help you to optimise your SEO career and not just the algorithms!
The SEO Mindset is a weekly podcast that gives you actionable, personal growth and development tips, guidance and advice, to help you to optimise your SEO career and not just the algorithms.

The podcast is dedicated to talking about important topics that aren't often spoken about in the industry such as imposter syndrome, burnout, anxiety, self awareness etc. Sarah and Tazmin, along with their special guests highlight important topics, share own experiences as well as giving actionable solutions. Basically we have open, honest and frank conversations to help others in the industry.

Each week we cover topics specific to careers in the SEO industry but also broader topics. We will help you to not only build your inner confidence but to also thrive in your career.

Your hosts are Mindset Coach Tazmin Suleman and SEO Manager Sarah McDowell, who between them have over 20 years experience working in the industry.
Support This Show

About your hosts

Sarah McDowell

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I've been in Digital Marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for around 10 years, currently working as the SEO Manager at Captivate (part of Global), the world's only growth-orientated podcast host. I am a self-confessed SEO nerd (I find the industry fascinated and love learning how search engines like Google work) and a bit of a podcast addict (with this being the fourth podcast I have hosted). I am also a speaker and trainer. I hope you enjoy this podcast!

Tazmin Suleman

Profile picture for Tazmin Suleman
I am a Life Coach, helping people grow and thrive, however my background has included careers in Development, Data Integrity and SEO. Through coaching, mentoring and teaching I help people build happier more fulfilling professional and personal lives by changing their mindset and habits. I teach courses on these topics and have incorporated a lot of the teachings in this podcast. I hope you find it useful.