Sometimes you may want to start a new good habit and it’s difficult to do. You want to get out of bed earlier to exercise, you want to iron your clothes while you’re watching television, you want to do homework for your class instead of watching a movie, you want to eat more vegetables and fruits.
You have good intentions, but your body just doesn’t do what you want it to do. You have a vision of where you want to go and what you want to do, but doing it isn’t easy.
On the other hand, all bad habits started innocently enough. They started as things you learned to do or enjoyed doing. Then, over time, as you practiced the habit over and over again, they seemed like they were a natural way to behave.
But these bad habits aren’t natural. You weren’t born with them. You developed them over time, and you can replace them with new habits. Here are some tips for doing away with a bad habit.
Create or Change One Habit at a Time
When you want to create a good habit or change a bad habit, don’t try work on more than one at a time. Devote all of your time and energy to working on that one habit first. Once it’s on automatic, then you can concentrate on creating or changing another habit. You may want to start with a smaller habit first, and once you’ve mastered it, then you can move on to another habit that’s more difficult for you.
Know Exactly Where You’re Going and How to Get There
Write down your goals and a start date. Note step by step what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. Make a list of how you will reward yourself for your small victories. Write down what your temptations are for not doing a habit you want to create or continuing with a bad habit you want to break and how you will deal with them.
Identify all the obstacles to creating the new habit or changing the bad one and exactly what you will do to overcome these obstacles. For example, if you tend to overeat when you’re at a restaurant, how will you handle that? Will you order less food? Order substitutes? Ask for half the food to be put in a doggy bag before you’re served? Write down the strategies you’ll use to make sure you don’t backslide.
Identify all the old triggers that made you not create your new habit or do your bad habit. For example, you may eat junk food when you’re stressed from the day at work, when you sit down to watch television, or when you have company over. Or with a new habit, when your alarm clock goes off in the morning to get you up for exercising, you hit the snooze button and roll over to sleep some more. Then there’s no time for you to exercise before you leave for work.
Then create new triggers for your new behaviors. You’ll eat nourishing food as soon as you return from work. Sunday afternoon before playing games with your family is the time you set aside to cook healthy food that you’ll take to work all week.
Do the same thing every day or every week. These are your new triggers. Put them in your written plan and be very consistent with them. When these triggers happen, do the habit immediately every single time.
Share with Others
Tell your commitment to create a new habit or eliminate a bad one to your family, friends, co-workers, and a kindred group online and in person. The more people, the better. Make your commitment real to yourself and everyone you know. Make a solemn promise that you’ll do it.
Ask for their support, and ask them to help you when you hit a rough spot. Make a promise to text them, call them or contact them online as soon as there’s a problem. Put this in your written plan. Keep all these people updated on your progress to make you accountable to them.
Communicate with Yourself Too
Remind yourself often of your commitment. Put signs up on your desk, refrigerator and mirror.
Keep a log or journal of everything that is relevant to making your change day by day. Write down every day what happens, what your feelings are, and how you’ll continue to create the new habit or change this bad habit. A log keeps you consistent and helps make you aware of what you’re actually doing. It helps you stay motivated, especially if you can see your progress every day.
Keep Focused on Improving
Continue reading about strategies for being successful, tools that will help you make the changes, and how to overcome potential obstacles. Read other people’s success stories to motivate you.
Keep your focus on the new habit you want to have or eliminating the bad habit until you no longer have to think about it because you’re living your new lifestyle. You must be absolutely consistent in your new behaviors, thoughts and words until the good habit is common in your everyday life or your bad habit is a thing of the past forever.
Deal Positively with Relapse
If you relapse, don’t give up. Figure out what happened, what thoughts went through your mind, and what to do or think differently next time. Then be consistent from that time forward on creating the new habit. Learn from your failure so that your failure becomes a positive thing that helps you to succeed.
Write down one thing you are dreaming about changing in your life. Then write down 3 things that are keeping you from achieving this dream. Can these impediments be overcome? If so, write down exactly how you will overcome them. If not, how can you adjust your dream so that at least part of it can be attained?