Simple strategies you can use now to begin breaking old habits and establishing new ones.
Do you have a bad habit you’d like to kick? Whether it’s overeating, interrupting conversations, or quitting before you reach your goal, these bad habits are learned, and they can be unlearned. In this article, I will outline a plan for success with seven daily steps to get started and help you stay on track.
One way to motivate yourself is to focus on whom you want to be and why. Why do you want to stop your bad habit? Why do you want to change your behavior? How will you benefit?
Focusing on what’s positive about change will help you hang in there during tough times. You may also want to think about whom you DON’T want to be and why.
Perhaps your self-defeating behavior is incongruent with your inner self-image. Think of the legacy you want to leave behind or what type of person you want to be when you’re 30, 50 or 70. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? The actions you take today will determine who you become tomorrow.
If you’ve made it far enough in life to learn to read and use a computer, you’ve probably had a few successes along the way. Reflect on previous successes and ask yourself what made success possible? What motivated you?
Consider the losses or gains you will experience by making current or future changes. Use this information to motivate you toward future successes.
Your current habits have probably been reinforced over many years. Your old behaviors likely have built in rewards that keep you stuck. You can develop new habits by setting small, manageable goals and designing built-in rewards each time you achieve them. An example of a reward is saving money in a jar each day you achieve your goal, then buying yourself a treat with the savings.
It can also include doing something you enjoy after each successful day or week. If your new behaviors don’t have built-in rewards, you’ll probably get frustrated and give up.
As you work on your new goals and develop new habits, be prepared for setbacks and resistance. Don’t beat yourself up when things don’t go exactly as you had planned, instead, use your failures as cues to what needs to be different next time.
Keep a journal and write in it daily. Outline what works, what doesn’t, and why. Be flexible and change your goals as time moves on. Plan ways to avoid future setbacks.
Finally, successfully breaking a habit means that you must start thinking of yourself in a new way. Rather than labeling yourself or defining yourself in terms of your problem, you need to begin seeing yourself as a success. One tool to use is positive affirmations. Positive affirmations help you to keep your focus on what you want, not what you don’t.
One of the important things to remember when using affirmations is the power of repetition. You should say your affirmations to yourself at least 50-100 times a day. Some people say, “I tried that positive self-talk, and it doesn’t work.”
It’s true, you cannot say your affirmations 5-10 times a day and expect them to work. The repetition is what works.
Here are 3 ways to keep focused and honest about your affirmations:
1. Use an affirmation journal. Write the date at the top of a page and then write out each of your affirmations and number them as you go, this way you can really keep track of how many you did.
2. Make your own affirmation tapes. Write out a list of affirmations, then speak them into a tape recorder. To make them even more effective, use background music or sing them. Make them catchy and hard to get out of your mind.
3. You can also write your affirmations on index cards and post them in various parts of your home or office to keep you reminded of your new self-statements. Another way to change your self-image is through visualization.
The more often you can see yourself engaging in your desired behavior, the less likely you will be to sabotage yourself when changes occur. Visualization helps you to become mentally comfortable with success so that when true success happens, you are prepared.
Take time each day to see yourself as the type of person you want to become. Identify yourself with your new behavior. Practice it mentally.
- Outline the habit you would like to give up and what you’d like to be doing instead.
- Map out 1-10 CONCRETE steps you can take in the next 21 days to succeed. Plan them into your daily schedule.
- Write a paragraph or more about where you’d like to be in 5-10 years. What kind of person do you want to be?
- Write a list of all your successes in life. Keep it and add to it as you think of more.
- Make a reward list and vow to reward yourself each time you achieve a goal.
Daily to-do list
- Remind yourself throughout the day: “I can do something for one day that would appall me if I had to keep it up for a lifetime.” Put yourself on a 5-min. basis if necessary.
- Tell yourself: “Each day that I stick to my plan, I move closer to becoming the person I want to be.” “I am becoming a new person. I let the old me go free. It no longer suits my personality.”
- Write out your successes daily.
- Give yourself rewards for each success. Acknowledge your progress.
- Write about setbacks you had. Try to remember what you were thinking or doing that may have provoked the setback. Plan a way to resolve this in the future.
- Set aside 15-20 minutes daily to vividly imagine yourself doing your new behavior or achieving your desired goal. Each time you do this, list it in your success journal.
- Write, speak, or read at least 50-100 affirmations daily. Use a jar, stickers, cards, beans, or a journal to keep an accurate, truthful count.
You might think to yourself, “This will never work, or this is too easy, or this will take too long.” But you can only truly make those comments after you have put this strategy to work for a bare minimum of 30-days. The greatest results will come if you do exercises like this every day, non-stop, from now on. What do you have to lose by trying?