Getting rid of bad habits can be tough…
We all have bad habits (well at least most of us). Often we pick them up as children or young adults. They develop and solidify and over time and become a part of our personality.
Depending on how long we have had them for, these habits can become really hard to change!
Here are a couple strategies that I use when I am trying to make a change in my life.
Figure out what your Motivators are
Before trying to make any kind of change you NEED to know what your motivators are. There will be times that are challenging and when you are facing temptation, knowing your reason for change can and will help you push through.
After determining your motivators, put together a plan for achieving your goals. Say you want to quit smoking (and are currently smoking a pack a day), try a gradual progression where you smoke one less cigarette per day, decreasing by one cigarette each week. Each weekly change will be barely noticeable but after a few months you will have completely nixed the habit.
When we take the approach described earlier we offer a much more gradual opportunity for change. As we begin to develop more and more positive habits we notice the impact they are having on our lives. This begins to build momentum and it can lead to an increase in this positive behavior. If our live and wellbeing are improving we can find that the stimuli that was fueling our negative habits will go away and the behavior will stop on it’s own.
Instead of trying to stop doing something bad you can start doing something positive.
Let me give you an example. Maybe you have an unhealthy relationship with sweets. I know I have been there before. Rather than trying to go cold turkey over night, try adding in a positive behavior.
In this case it could be something like: Eating a salad with dinner, going for a walk after your meals, learning to control your portions. When we start to develop these positive behaviors they will begin to take up a portion of our mental space. With enough practice, they can begin to edge out the negative habit that we wanted to remove in the first place.
Let me tell you why this works. When we have a bad habit what we are really experiencing is a behavioral pattern that has built up over time. Often, the habits we describe as bad, are used as emotional coping mechanisms. If we were to stop that behavior completely, we would have a large empty space in our lives left by this activity. We would, in most cases, find another behavior to fill that need and it would most likely be equally as bad.
Learn to ask for help
Whether it is family and friends, or a professional counselor, getting external support is incredibly important. Our support system is what will pick us up when we have made a mistake and cheer us on when we are succeeding. Find people that really support you and then tell them what your goals are. Ask them to send you texts of encouragement, help you make positive choices throughout the day, or even find some friends to take on the challenge of changing a habit with you. When we do things as a group each individual becomes immensely more powerful.
Making lasting changes in our lives can be hard! When we do it without any kind of plan or structure we are often setting ourselves up for failure. The next time you try to change something about yourself, do it strategically and with a strong conviction. Make sure to get your community to support you and you WILL succeed. I believe in you, now it’s up to you to do the same.