Be a creature of Habit
As human beings we are all creatures of habits. Throughout our daily lives we do things that are simply routine and automatic. These are things like your morning routine of getting out of bed, getting dressed, having breakfast, brushing your teeth, flossing, driving to work, making a cup of coffee, and checking your messages. We do these things without giving much thought as to how or why we do them, because we’ve been doing them for many years, and they’ve become our habits.
Assess your habits
There are good and bad habits. Some bad habits include smoking, eating late at night and eating junk food, watching too much TV and not exercising, and not going to bed at a regular time. You may notice yourself reaching for a snack or dessert after dinner without any particular reason other than because you’ve been doing it for years and it is now your habit. Or you may not like eating vegetables, but you are really just not in the habit of eating vegetables and it may take some time to learn to like them.
If you are serious about living a healthy life style, you must analyze your habits, determine whether those habits are bad for you, and change them into good habits. Just because you’ve been doing something for years doesn’t mean you cannot change it. No matter how deeply entrenched your habit may be, you can change it with some persistence.
If you are serious about developing a good new habit, you can reprogram yourself so that this new behavior becomes automatic.
Most experts in the field of personal growth, agree that it takes an average of three weeks for someone to change a habit or create a new one. And the most amazing thing you will find is that after those three weeks it will become harder to revert to your old habit! Slipping back into an old routine can happen, however, if you experience high levels of stress or have a major change in your life. The longer you continue your new behavior, the less likely you will fail to keep it up. The key to success is commitment!
Stick with it
Changing a bad habit is not easy, and you will struggle for the first couple of weeks. At this stage, it’s very important to consciously encourage yourself and use your willpower. The more often you repeat your new habit, the easier it becomes, and eventually you will find that it is easier to do the new action rather than the old one. It will become your new normal behavior and you won’t have to force yourself to do it anymore. It will be automatic.
There are three steps to change bad habits into good ones: (Reference: Power of Focus by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Les Hewitt)
- Realize Exactly What Is It? The first step is to realize that you have a habit that is useless or harmful in some way. In order to successfully change a bad habit, you must determine what consequences it may cause if you don’t change it. If you are in the habit of eating fast food every day, you may eventually suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, or even stroke. So think carefully what your bad habits may bring you years down the line.
- Define Your New Good Habit The next step is to establish the opposite of your bad habit, and define your new good habit. If you are not exercising enough, your new good habit would be to get at least half an hour of exercise every day. Think carefully about all the benefits of adopting your new good habit. When you start to exercise regularly, the reward is better health and higher self-esteem.
- Lights, Camera … Action! Write down your action plan for changing a bad habit into a good one. I’ve already talked about this in the article about how to focus on your goals. Once you know what you have to do and why you have to do it, create a step-by-step plan of specific actions to make it happen. If your good new habit involves getting more exercise, the action steps could be to join a gym and work out four times a week for an hour each time. The more specific your action plan, the greater your chance for changing a bad habit into a good habit.
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