10/13/2011 04:55 EDT | Updated 12/13/2011 05:12 EST

Wake Up to Your Habits!

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I was filled with gratitude for the amazing people who took time out of their busy lives to attend the launch of my new book, Wake Up to Your Habits.

I had the privilege to be at Kevin O'Leary's launch of Cold Hard Truth just two days before mine. Mr. O'Leary informed us that Steve Jobs had passed away just minutes before he entered the room. The next day, I heard a sound clip of Steve Jobs' commencement address to Stanford's graduating class in 2005, just after his cancer diagnosis. In his address he said, "There is an old saying... live every day as though it was your last, and some day you will be right."

Mr. Jobs probably knew he was going to die, and he reminded everyone there, so are they. He said, "Don't spend your life living someone else's life."

I think a lot of us are living other people's stories -- about ourselves, about what we can achieve, about what work means or can mean, about family, about how to be happy. Who knows where the stories originate -- and I don't think it really matters -- the idea is, the story might not be one you would CHOOSE for yourself.

Wake Up to Your Habits is about being mindful of the stories you are telling yourself -- what you are believing to be true about yourself, about others, about your circumstances -- and it's about 'waking up' to the opportunity to create a new story.

About 12 years ago, I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Robert Brooks speak on raising resilient children. During that session, he asked the audience of about 300 educators and parents, "If I asked your children to describe you, what do you think they would say?" There was a collective gasp in the room and a whole lot of horrified-looking faces. Mine included.

I knew that my children would describe me -- not in the way I wanted to be described -- but in the way I was. I realized there was a bit of a disconnect there -- I knew how I wanted to be, yet wasn't sure I was 'being' it.

That question from Dr. Brooks got me thinking about something that I had experienced often since becoming a parent. I had some thinking and behaviour patterns that seemed to be automatic, ingrained, and 'programmed' in. I found myself saying over and over... "I can't believe I did that again!" and "OMG, I sound just like my mother!"

I'd noticed that same phenomenon happening for other people in the workplaces I visited as a speaker and trainer. Lots of people seemed to be stuck in a rut, wanting something different for themselves yet not knowing how to make the change.

I was reminded of the NLP training I had taken eight years before that day in Dr. Brooks' seminar, in which I learned that we all, indeed, had personal programs and neuro-pathways that become our mental maps of the world. One expression that resonated with me was, 'the map is not the territory.' The map you have of the world is simply that -- your map. It is not the world. And, the hopeful part is, the programs and pathways can be changed.

We all have ruts -- personal programs and pathways that aren't working for us any more (if they ever did) and we can turn those ruts into healthier, more productive grooves.

Steve Jobs said in his speech at Stanford, "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life." He said, "When you know you are going to die (which is true for all of us) it's the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose... there is no reason not to follow your heart."

Waking up to your habits helps you to undress, or unpackage, your thinking, feeling and behaviour patterns, and start living the story you want.

Kevin O'Leary said that he seeks financial wealth because money leads to freedom. I see it the other way around. Freedom, from personal and emotional roadblocks -- whether self-imposed or a 'gift' from someone else -- leads to a far greater and more important 'wealth.'

Are you ready for some new habits?