Are you stuck in an unhealthy relationship or situation and want to get out? Are you tired of wasting your time, money and energy on activities or people? Are you ready to eliminate this bad habit in order to be happy? Read this article and learn strategies that will help you do exactly that. This month I invite you to become a detective to discover a bad habit that you want to eliminate and an architect to create a new habit to replace it and improve your life. For this, you’ll want to do the following:
one. Make a list. The first thing you should do is name the habit you want to change and assess how much the behavior costs you. On a piece of paper, write an inventory of your bad habits and choose one habit that is keeping you from feeling empowered and in control of your life. Identify the people, thoughts, and feelings that cause you stress and could trigger your unwanted behavior. List the benefits and reasons why you have decided to kick the old habit, including how it affects your life and relationships. Is it a major focus in your thoughts? Does it make it difficult to concentrate or be available to others? Is it affecting your health? Has your habit turned you into someone you don’t want to be? Have you turned off your friends? Once you have written this list; check it often.
2. find a replacement. An easy way to break an old habit is to establish a new one. Decide on a new pleasurable alternative or distraction to motivate him to replace the old behavior. There is a saying, “Old clothes are hard to die for.” Recognize that familiarity can undermine you. Learn to say a compassionate “no” to that old habit when it appeals to you, and quickly focus on the new habit that you find satisfying and enjoyable. Choose a surrogate who fills your life with people and activities you enjoy. Once you find a replacement that distracts you or makes you happy, do it often for nourishment. You will find the old routine easier to resist.
3. Silence Negative talk about oneself. Pay attention to the internal negative chorus because judgment is a show stopper. When you focus on your setbacks, you get discouraged, and that can defeat you. Acceptance is the fastest way to make changes. Be aware of the setback and let it go. Speak softly to yourself while acknowledging your imperfection or mistake; explore the reason, then move to the present and continue your new behavior. Focus on what you have control of now and the substitutes you have decided to use. When you experiment with new ways of behaving, you will find that a synergistic cycle occurs; the more you feel good about your new behavior, the more you’ll want to feel good and the more you’ll keep practicing the new habit.
Four. Choose when it will change. While it’s rarely a good idea to change a habit (work is stressful, kids are demanding, it’s the holidays), determine if you’re just making excuses. A new habit will have a better chance of establishing itself successfully when you implement the change during a relatively peaceful time. But let’s face it, “life can get in the way” and we can’t always be low on stress. For me, I find it more effective to make the decision to change my behavior and just do it. For other people, small planned steps work best. Whichever pace or strategy works best for you, once you decide to break a habit, write a contract with yourself that describes the habit you intend to change, includes the start date of the change, and makes it non-negotiable.
5. Track your progress. Every day review in a journal or in your head the progress you have made. Reflect on your thoughts and behavior. Did you think about the old habit? If so, when and why? Did you slip? If so, what was the trigger? I tend to go back to an old habit when I’m bored or in a bad mood. I call it “picking off a scab.” As soon as I recognize that I’ve fallen into an undesirable habit, I silence judgment and focus on the new, pre-planned distraction. By monitoring your actions, you can be alert for triggers that encourage the unwanted habit and prevent it before it starts. Letting others know that you have decided to change could also be helpful as a way to stay on track. When I decided to stop swearing, I let everyone know that I would no longer have a “potty” mouth. In fact, I would self-correct in the middle of a conversation. But if you’re a private person, it’s okay to keep your evolution to yourself.
Kick a bad habit this month! If you’re tired of continuing the same unproductive behavior, make the decision to change today. Identify the habit that is getting in your way, select a substitute to replace it, and start using the new healthy behavior. You deserve to grow more fully into the person you are meant to be. Once you eliminate a bad habit from your life and replace it with something healthy, you will find that you have more time and energy to live the life you want.