On the fifth day of Christmas, Spin Sucks gave to you: five habits to break, four PRM tools, three AI experts, two PR trends, and one mindset shift in a pear tree.


They rule our lives.

Consciously and unconsciously, habits create the world we live in, the goals we are able to achieve, and the limitations we place on ourselves. 

Without the ability to create habits, we couldn’t function.

They allow our brains to make sense of a complex and process-driven world.

In Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, he uses a car analogy to explain how habits allow us to function.

Remember when you first learned to drive and it felt so overwhelming?

There were so many things you had to remember, do simultaneously, and be aware of.

Now, you do those same things and don’t even think twice about them.

They’ve become automatic.

Like habits.

Habits to Break In 2021

If our brains didn’t form habits, life would be far too overwhelming to get anything accomplished.

So habits can be good.

But they can also be bad for that very same reason.

They cause us to respond automatically to many stimuli in a certain way. 

On the first day of Christmas, we discussed how crucial mindset is to achieve your goals.

Habits and mindset go hand in hand and reinforce one another. 

So here are five habits to break in order to be successful (and each requires a mindset shift as well)

Stop Letting People Pick Your Brain

This might be the top habit to break for communicators everywhere.

Listen, I’m the worst at this one, even though I constantly lecture others about it. 

But I’m also a hypocrite. There, I said it.

I also know there are people out there who disagree with my thinking on this. So let me be clear. I don’t see any reason you can’t have coffee (virtual) with someone or have three meetings with the same prospect if there is something in it for you.

What I’m talking about here is not letting the takers pick your brain for free. You know who I mean. The people who will take and take and take and never pay you a dime. Ever.

It might look something like this, “Hey, Gini. I hear you’re really good at communications. I’ve just started a new PR role at a company that has never had PR and I come from real estate so I don’t have any experience. Could you spend some time with me, showing me how to get everything going?”

Absolutely! I have one-on-one coaching for that kind of request.

But if you want me to do that for free. H to the E to the L to the L no.

Every No Is Also a Yes

Brain picking is a hard habit to break for many reasons:

  • We love to help others.
  • It’s a great ego boost.
  • We adore thinking up ideas and sharing them.

But at the same time, when we do this we shortchange our value, spend time on something that doesn’t bring us closer to our goals, and feel taken advantage of. 

We need to stop.

The secret to doing that is catching ourselves when someone asks.

Another thing that’s helpful is having your professional or business goals in front of you and deciding if that yes brings you closer to them. 

Remember every yes is also a no.

You can’t feel bad about saying no to something that doesn’t get you closer to your goals.

Saying no is simply saying yes to something else that does. 

Stop Selling Your Time and Start Selling Your Value 

This is a mindset shift and a habit to break all in one. 

The value you bring to an organization isn’t the same thing as the amount of time it takes you to do something.

These are two drastically different things.

There are a lot of things you could do in an hour.

Some are extremely important for an organization and some wouldn’t even be noticed. You could spend your time on productive procrastination and spend lots of time doing it, but it won’t help your organization or that of your clients. 

Likewise, it might take you five hours to do something that would take a less skilled person could spend hours doing the exact same task. It adds tons of value and you can do it in less time. Does that mean you should be paid less?

Of course not!

Your background, expertise, skillset, and knowledge would make your hour much more valuable. 

Stop the habit of pricing yourself and your services based on the time you spend and start doing so based on the value you provide. 

One of the first lessons we teach our agency owner clients is how to make this shift and it’s a game-changer. 

Spend Time On Things That Are Important 

Don’t waste time on things that aren’t. 

Here’s how to do this:

  1. Take a week and really evaluate how you spend your time. Be brutally honest. Use the screen time function on your phone to see what you really do when you use it. This is painful because you realize how much time you really do waste. 
  2. Compare this to your goals. Does where you spend your time align with your goals? 
  3. Put in place measures to break the habits that cause you to spend time on things that don’t deserve it. Maybe this means getting one of a zillion apps that block social media during the day. Or put a block on your phone or email during “deep work” hours. Maybe it’s as simple as blocking off “meeting space” for yourself in your calendar. Whatever it is, be relentless about your time. 

One thing to note about that third one: communicate to your team that this is what you are doing. If you’re “in the hole,” as a client of ours calls it when I disappear to write, they need to know they can’t access you for a few hours. Otherwise, people freak. Trust me…I speak from experience.

Bonus: when you stop spending your time on the things that don’t matter, you suddenly are unable to tell yourself you don’t have time for the things that do. 

Stop Responding and Start Acting

This goes hand-in-hand with habit number three.

Don’t simply be a responder, focus a greater percentage of your time on proactive action. 

We often spend an entire day doing nothing but responding to things:

  • Email
  • Text
  • Client demands
  • Team member needs. 

And when it’s over, we realize we’ve gotten nothing done we actually needed to do.

All we did was respond.

And so we wake up the next day with the same to-dos and do it all over again. 

Take yourself off the hamster wheel. 

Do this by having a plan, changing your mindset, and valuing your time. 

Stop Being So Darn Mean to Yourself

Have you ever taken a step back and thought about the things you say to yourself and how you say them?

The hateful tone you use to speak to yourself?

It’s horrible.

Not productive or useful in any way. 

The power of our own self-talk is immeasurable, so imagine if we used it to empower our growth and goals vs. to be so horribly cruel and condescending. 

Here are three things you can do to stop this habit:

  1. Pay attention to your tone. Listen to the way you speak to yourself. Even if you can’t say something nice, change your tone and it instantly becomes harder to hate on yourself. 
  2. Consider what you might say to a friend or someone you coached or mentored in a similar situation. 
  3. Ask yourself, “Is this useful?”  How is it helping you, your goals, or others around you? Spoiler alert: it’s not. 

Habits Are Hard to Break

Breaking habits is not in any way easy.

But becoming aware of the habits that hold you back and creating new, more productive habits to replace them is crucial if you want to achieve your goals in 2021.

Which of these are on your hit list of habits to break? What would you add?

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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