All of us have bad habits and all of us wish that we didn’t have them. We also feel pessimistic about changing. You probably know that you really have to spend less time on Facebook or watching TV. Or maybe you have tried many times to quit smoking.
Or perhaps even thinking about getting more exercise makes you feel too tired to begin. Whatever bad habit you are trying to change, somehow you haven’t found the way to success. Well, search no more. You can change bad habits. Here are 12 steps for changing a bad habit.
Become aware of your habits
You can’t change something you are not aware of. When you identify a bad habit you want to change it. Since habits are mostly unconscious, the more aware you can become of your habit, the more power you have to break it.
Focus on one habit at a time
You will have to consciously focus on doing new behavior until it becomes a new habit. Since the new behavior is unfamiliar, doing it requires additional physical as well as mental resources. Discipline yourself to work on one habit at a time. By not doing this you risk none of your desired behaviors becoming permanent habits.
Since it is very hard to change bad habits, you have to build your motivation in order to ensure you carry out the change. You should consider both the short as well as long term consequences of continuing with your habit. These can impact not just yourself but also your family, friends and loved ones. Think about habits you are passing onto your children and grandchildren. Make a list of all the benefits you’ll receive by breaking your bad habit and read each morning and at night to keep your motivation levels high.
Replace lost needs
Your bad habit was probably filling an emotional need. For example, are you eating for pleasure or comfort rather than nourishment? If that is that case, try and find a healthier way to get this need met, such as watching a movie or calling a friend. You may eat junk food for comfort, pleasure, nourishment, etc. You will have to replace these needs in order to successfully overcome your bad habits.
Make a plan
Make a plan what you will do instead of your bad habit. For example, instead of watching a movie, you might read a book or go for a walk.
Avoid situations and people which might trigger your bad habit
Avoid people as well as situations which might trigger your bad habit. For example, maybe drinking with a friends triggers you into wanting a cigarette.
Practise the new habit
Changing a new habit includes creating a new pathway for your brain to take instead of the old one. You have to practice the new habit in order to make the new pathway easier and stronger for your brain to take than the old one.
Record your progress
By recording your progress on a daily basis, you stay focused on your goal. You will easily identify problem situations.
Use punishments and rewards in order to keep yourself on track
Maybe you can take a nice holiday with the money you’ll save on cigarettes. You can also schedule in regular breaks or a night out with friends in order to reward yourself for focused study efforts. In addition to big rewards, use also small, frequent rewards for your daily successes.
Build in accountability
Tell family and friends about your commitment to your new habit in order to get their support.
While you are in the process of changing your habit, you may have to modify it slightly to suit.
Get immediately back on track
Chances are that you’ll make mistakes. However, learn from these and make course corrections as necessary.