Habits. We all have them. Unfortunately, not all are good and not all serve us in a positive way.
Some habits are relatively harmless and may be a mere annoyance to others, perhaps even more than to you. For example, it bothers most of us to see people biting their nails. Sometimes it’s a mannerism that you’re not even aware of, yet it bothers other people.
At the same time, there are habits that are detrimental and can prove to be deadly for yourself and for others, for example excessive drinking and smoking.
Behaviour Beneficial to Physical or Mental Health
Because a habit, bad or good, is formed over some length of time, it often proves quite challenging to overcome it. However, what if there were scientifically proven steps that work for helping to break bad habits? Would you be open to discovering these and applying them, if you needed to?
Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken. ~ Warren Buffet
It is believed that two basic factors contribute to bad habits. One is stress (with its various shapes and forms) and the other is boredom. Each of these has triggers attached to them, and generally, it’s those triggers that act as prompts to activate the habit.
Why Does Habit Exist?
In order to effect any change in bad habits, it’s essential to know what’s triggering or activating the activity. What to do: Become more aware of your actions. Keep a notebook and pen handy. For one week, write down the times you either slipped into the habit or the desire arose to do the activity. Here is the key: Write down what happened just before that? No judgment. Just take note.
After a week, analyze your results and identify any patterns that show up. What do they reveal?
Identify Your ‘Why’ For Wanting to Change Bad Habits
In any area of life, your ‘why’ is a determining factor for taking action. In order to effect a positive change, it’s important to determine your why or your real motivation. Wanting to change a bad habit because someone else wants this for you is a good reason. However, a more effective reason, and one that will motivate you, even more, is when the desire comes from within you.
There are no shortcuts for nurturing the movement toward wholeness other than drinking from the well of self-love. ~ Don Stapleton
See yourself as a ‘new’ you. Visualize what success will look like for you and hold on to that image. If you find it challenging to visualize an improved you, select a photograph you really like, even if it’s an older photo, and post that where you can see it to remind yourself of your goal.
Create a Plan and Check Your Progress
Very few changes will take place if you fail to plan, despite the fact that you have good intentions.
Like any other goal you want to successfully achieve, you will need to break it down into smaller chunks that you can easily manage, as well as have a system to help you be aware of triggers so that you avoid the habit rather than giving in and then have regrets.
Peter Gollwitzer, a psychology professor at New York University who specializes in the relationship between goals and behavior noted,* “In my research in the U.S. and Germany on the self-regulation of goal pursuit, I discovered that people have to make plans on how to implement their goals. The most effective plans are those that specify when, where and how you want to act on your goals by using an “if-then” format.”
Your system may include a peer group or an individual who will hold you accountable or even actively intervene in helping you overcome the habit.
By doing regular check-ups, you’ll be able to see how far you’ve progressed and had the accountability partner who understands what you’re trying to accomplish will prove to be a huge asset.
You cannot change your future; but, you can change your habits, and surely
your habits…will change your future. ~ Dr. Abdul Kalam
Remember that no one can do this for you. You must want to make the changes required to eliminate bad habits. The steps again are awareness of the habit and triggers; becoming motivated from within to achieve success in overcoming the negative habit; creating a plan of action, and checking your progress in tandem with an accountability partner.