Break Bad Habits: Define Your Mission

Neil Fiore, PhD

Update Your Defaults: focus on your mission

  • To break bad habits push aside and update your old defaults; they no longer fit you, your advanced skills, and your current opportunities.
  • Focus on your task, not your ego, to perform optimally on exams, on the playing field, in business, and in relationships. Your higher brain can focus on the task and goals of your life instead of your ego’s fears, self-doubts, bad habits, and addictions.
  • Learn that you don’t have to be controlled by old habits or distracting thoughts and feelings. [For example, I still have thoughts about smoking a cigarette even though I stopped smoking thirty years ago. But thoughts and even cravings–regardless of how strong they may be–can’t control how I choose to act when I have such a solid commitment to protect my body from tobacco, old habits, and addictions.]
  • Now, I can observe the thought of smoking, and even the impulse, with great curiosity and compassion. Instead of something I feel compelled to do, these thoughts and feeling are simply outdated reactions that remind my Strongest Self to keep its commitment to the mission of protecting my body and my life.

 The more clearly you identify your default reactions to life challenges, the sooner you’ll be able to catch them and redirect your attention to the path that leads to inner peace and success.

When you identify your old habits (or defaults) and a clear, compelling mission, you can more quickly self-correct, get back on track, and re-focus on productive actions.

When you link awareness of your default reactions to corrective action, you’ll become incredibly efficient and effective at limiting the destructive effects of the five major problems areas: Stress, Inner Conflict, Self-Criticism, Feeling Overwhelmed, and Struggle.

You’ll be able to respond to these problems in just seconds, replacing them with the qualities of your Strongest Self.


 Examples of Mission Statements. To help you create an over-arching sense of mission I’ve listed my mission statements and vision as examples. (Note that I means my Strongest Self in its leadership and protective roles.)

  • I am committed to accepting reality rather than fighting against it. Life and other people are not a problem or enemies, but simply facts.
  • I limit my stress reaction to less than thirty seconds. Self-threats are no longer acceptable. I communicate to every part of me: Your worth is safe with me. Regardless of what happens, I will not make you feel bad.
  • I manage my life from choice rather than the ambivalence that’s caused by the inner conflict between “You have to” and “I don’t want to.” Ambivalence and inner conflict are now wake-up calls for my Strongest Self to make an executive choice.
  • I rapidly move from an isolated, worrying conscious mind and shift it to wondering what the deeper wisdom of my larger, integrated mind and body will achieve.
  • I take at least three deep breaths before starting to work in order to connect with a deeper system of support; to link my left-brain with my right-brain; and to connect with the wisdom of my body.
  • I integrate every part of me into a powerful, focused team. No single part of me works alone or carries full responsibility for my life.
  • I, as my Strongest Self, am in charge of my life, not the six-year-old or the two-year-old or any of my lower brain functions. From the perspective, wisdom, and support available to me as my larger Self, I take responsibility for my life and the role of guiding all parts of me toward my higher values and mission.

Write your own mission statements and commitments to yourself.


By clarifying your mission statement, you’ll move rapidly to the role of a teacher who keeps every part of you focused on seeing your current task to completion.

The fastest way to change is to change who you think you are; to change your identity.

Bad habits are just outdated defaults that are not in line with your current mission.

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