Are you wanting to change a “bad habit”?
So you’ve decided that you want to make some changes in your life. In particular, you’re wanting to change an unproductive habit…….. Hey, that’s great – however a word of caution.
Instead, simply acknowledge that a particular behaviour or routine has become “unhelpful” and that it’s now time to adopt a new way.
Recognise that at the time of acquiring the habit, if you’d known differently you would have made a different choice. In other words, treat yourself kindly and be happy that you are now becoming a wiser person. You have made a decision to change; you accept responsibility for what you have done in the past and you are now looking toward the future and not the past. You will do your best to be patient with yourself throughout the change process.
Beating yourself up for “wrong” choices made in the past will not help you now in becoming a “better” person. In fact, too harsh and punishing self-judgement could likely become a trigger for repetition of the unhelpful behaviour.
Maybe the habit you want to change is as serious as getting off alcohol or quitting smoking – or maybe it’s eating less junk food…… Or perhaps it could be as simple as no longer swearing when you’re under pressure – or no longer saying yes to people when you really want to say no to them.
Making the decision to change is the first step to building a more satisfying life – just try and remember that excessive self-chastisement will be counter-productive to any change process within yourself.
Five steps to help you break unhelpful habits:
Some of the following ideas will appeal to you, and perhaps others won’t ….. However all of these methods have worked at least for somebody somewhere and have proven effective – some can help you achieve he change that you desire …..
1. Change just one habit at a time – and replace it with something
This is an extremely important. point. Habit change is difficult enough with just one habit. If you attempt to change more than one habit at a time, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Keep it simple, allow yourself to focus, and give yourself the best chance for success. This can be why New Year’s resolutions often fail to eventuate, because many people attempt to tackle more than one change at a time……… And by the way, when preparing to make the change – identify an alternative behaviour that can replace the “unhelpful” behaviour.
In other words, your focus will be not so much on just what you want to “stop doing” – it also needs to be on what you will “start doing” instead……. So for example, if your change goal is to stop watching so much TV, then you you might decide that between 6.30 – 7.00 pm each evening, instead of watching TV you will go for a walk.
2. Start with a small change.
The smaller the better for habit change, because habit change is difficult, and trying to take on too much is a recipe for disappointment. Want to exercise? Start with just 5-10 minutes. Want to wake up earlier? Try just 10 minutes earlier for now. In other words, bite-size chunks that can be easily digested, rather than a big mouthful of change too quickly. When you succeed in making that small change, it fuels self-belief that further change is possible.
3. Set yourself a 21-day challenge.
Experience suggests that it takes about 21 days to change a habit, provided that you are focused and consistent. The exact number of days will vary from person to person and habit to habit. But you begin by setting yourself the challenge: then sticking with it every day for 21 days. And make sure you let others know about the progress you are making. Throughout the 21 day challenge, keep your focus on making the change one day at a time.
4. Make a habit change plan and write it down.
Just saying you’re going to change the habit is not enough of a commitment. You need to actually write it down, on paper. Write down what you are going to start doing differently. Keep this as a reminder and place it somewhere that stays in your “line of sight” and serves as a regular conscious prompt. It’s all too easy to revert back to “auto-pilot” otherwise – particularly when you are under some pressure………
While you’re writing down your change goal, develop your change plan. This will ensure that you have prepared yourself properly. Include in the plan your reasons and motivations for changing, identifying any obstacles you might encounter, the triggers or stressors to watch out for (both internal and external), and the support people who you can call upon to provide encouragement for you to persevere with the change process.
5. Remember the “why” that’s driving the change
It is important you write down clearly in your plan the reasons driving the habit change. You have to be very clear why you’re doing this, and the positive benefits of doing it need to be clear in your head. If you’re just doing it for vanity, while this can be a reasonable motivator, it’s not usually enough to fuel perseverance during stormy weather…… You will probably need something stronger – whether it is for the happiness of ourselves, or for those who are dear to you – get your reasons clear!….
And particularly if you find yourself relapsing and reverting back to the old-habit. It’s easy to become discouraged and be tempted to give up trying to change. By reminding yourself of your reasons, you can refresh your motivation and rekindle a determination to persevere.
Change your thoughts to change your future
In this short clip, Jack Canfield (author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul) speaks about the importance of changing your thinking in order to change what’s going on in your life.
The habit some people seek to change has to do with emotional over-eating. In this short clip, the speaker advocates that to change such a habit requires a willingness to surface the underlying emotion, so that it can be processed and ultimately released …
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