07 Dec You CAN Develop Good Habits
Improving your relationships at home or at work? Quitting smoking? Eating healthier? Whatever you’re wanting to do, start with a plan to create a new habit and make it happen.
Step 1. Tackle one habit at a time.
Get really clear about which change in your life matters most to you and will have the biggest impact, and focus on that one thing. Changing just one habit will strengthen your ability to address other habits in the future, so put other habits in a parking lot for now.
You might find that you start to notice improvements in other areas while you’re focusing on your most important habit.
Step 2. Adjust your thinking to replace old attitudes.
List the pros and cons of your bad habit (yes, there are rewards you get from a bad habit, which is why you created that habit in the first place).
Now list all the pros and cons of the new habit you want to master. This will help you focus on your reward – the reason you want to develop a new habit – and become aware of thinking patterns or behaviours that might get in the way of actions to replace your old habit with a new one.
This means finding ways to make the better choice easier – not having any junk food in the house, for instance, and lots of healthy snacks available.
Step 3. Plan small actions.
It’s a lot easier to find the willpower to change if you identify small action steps that will lead to your big goal of the new habit. Suppose you want to “strive for five” fruits and vegetables every day. A small action might be to add a fruit to your breakfast, or pack a fruit for a morning snack (which might mean adding fruits to your grocery list).
Step 4. Reward your successes.
Keeping track – even as simple as a check mark – of all the times you do succeed is a very effective way of rewarding yourself. Don’t use rewards that flip you back into the old habit, so no thinking, “if I eat five fruits and vegetables today I will reward myself with a piece of cake.” Not a good idea! Your truest reward is achieving what your new habit is meant to accomplish, such as a healthier or slimmer self.
Step 5. Share with others.
Simply telling other people about your new habit AND reporting back to them on your progress will go a long way to keeping you on track. Even better is if you can join or start a group of other people working to achieve a similar habit.
Step 6. Get back on the horse.
If you slip back into an old habit, as you most likely will, do not throw up your hands in despair and give up. Instead, remind yourself of your goal and gently encourage yourself to carry on with your small actions.
You might slip into the old habit several times before you succeed, but eventually, the neural pathway in your brain for the new habit will grow bigger and stronger than the pathway for the old habit.
And here’s a little poem to support you.
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit –
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things go wrong that you mustn’t quit.
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