…is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” Tony Robbins. So it’s a new year, you want to change old habits and develop good ones. It’s important you understand why change is not easy. Old and bad habits are comfortable, safe, and does not require too much effort. However, if you are hoping for some insight into how to form new habits, the next few minutes is guaranteed to prepare you for change. Think you can form a new habit in a few weeks? I used to think so too. Wrong. If you’ve been doing the same thing for decades, the truth is a bit more complicated.
The myth about behavior becoming automatic in 21 days, started when journalists misinterpreted a popular self-help book on Psycho Cybernetics back in the 1960’s. After all, you can probably eat more vegetables starting today, but complex tasks like playing the violin will take more time to stick. On the other hand, the New Year is an ideal time to begin forming constructive habits, geared towards enhancing your overall happiness and wellbeing for the rest of the year
Here are some basic strategies for habit formation. Set yourself up right now. Remember, it is okay to ease you into your new routines:
Plan ahead. Eliminate excuses by plotting out your course in advance. If you want to wake up earlier, go to bed on time.
Be consistent. Regularity reinforces itself. Soon, it will be easier hit the gym after work, even if it’s raining, or colleagues are heading out for beer and pizza.
Spot triggers. Kicking a habit requires you to notice what happens right before you bite your nails or buy another pair of shoes. Are you bored at work or arguing with your spouse?
Develop substitutions. Once you know your cues, you can choose a different response. Take a walk or invite a friend out for coffee.
Review your reasons. Go over the reasons why you want to adopt your new behavior. For instance, remind yourself about the benefits of drinking water instead of soda.
Personalize your goals. While contemplating your why’s, visualize your future self. Focus on what you have to gain instead of just pleasing others.
What if you’re tackling something as ambitious as managing diabetes or transforming your dead-end dating history? Here are a few advanced strategies to get things going:
Practice compassion. You’re bound to slip up occasionally. Forgive yourself, and move forward.
Team up. Enlist a friend, exchange support and encouragement. Eat lunch with a colleague who is trying to lose weight too.
Write it down. Raise your awareness by keeping a journal about your campaign to stop swearing or start flossing. Note what happens on the days you stick to your program,compared to the days when you drift back into old patterns.
Remove temptations. Eliminate the triggers that distract you from your objectives. Clear the junk food out of your kitchen, or the cigarettes out of your car.
Design obstacles. Make it difficult to give in to your old tendencies. Leave your credit cards at home to prevent impulsive shopping sprees.
Go on vacation. Leave home for a while. If you can afford one, vacations are an ideal time to forge new habits, you can make a fresh start in different surroundings.
Make time to sit down to meditate each morning. instead of becoming caught up in searching for lost socks or checking your email.
Make daily exercise (and parallel parking:) so easy you won’t even have to think about them. Positive habits make advantageous choices automatic so you’ll stick with them. You’ll also have more energy to devote to other challenges.
I hope you found these suggestions helpful. Feel free to share this post with your network.
You Your Success,