How many things do you do every day without even really thinking about it?
It’s so easy to walk up to the counter at the coffee shop and order a pastry to go with that highly sweetened coffee. Or, to flop onto the couch when you get home instead of taking a detour toward the rowing machine.
The power of habit can feel nearly unbreakable and it can feel incredibly hard to form better habits.
Our habits are patterns that provide comfort and familiarity.
But, I don’t have to tell you that not all of our habits are beneficial to us. Some of our habits leave us with problems like expanding debt or expanding waistlines.
Others can keep us in a holding pattern where we want to improve ourselves in many ways, but never get around to putting them into action because we’ve created bad habits.
Researchers who’ve looked at habits and patterns of behavior say that it can take 60 days or more to get rid of an old habit and get a new one to stick.
But, if you aren’t going at changing habits the right way, a bad habit can stick around longer than that …
If you want different results, you’re going to have to try different methods than you’ve used before.
Through my work with coaching and awareness counseling, I’ve learned a lot about what works.
The three stepping stones below are what you need to put yourself on the path to better habits and a happier, more fulfilling life.
1. Identify What is Holding You Back
The first step on the path is to make an inventory of the habits that are holding you back.
Be searching and specific.
Say you want to commit to getting a full night’s sleep every night. What’s keeping you from that now?
Is a late afternoon coffee habit interfering with your sleep? Are you gaining unwanted weight because you’re overeating? Are you having a hard time getting your eyes off the glowing screen of your phone when you should be unwinding instead? Are you not spending enough quality time with your significant other?
Figuring out what is causing the problem is a vital part of getting yourself to a workable solution.
Go ahead and make a list of the habits that have to go.
2. Use the Law of Replacement
You can’t completely remake yourself as a person in a single day. It just won’t take. You’ll get overwhelmed and then slip right back into the old patterns from before.
Instead, use the Law of Replacement to pick the ones that matter to you most. Choose which habits you will leave behind and what you’ll allow into their place.
Since you’ve identified some specific bad habits you wish to break, now you need to replace them with new ones that will keep you on the road to the sort of life you want.
If you are working to eat healthier and cut out junk food, identify the sorts of things you think you should be eating instead.
If your wish is to spend more time reading books and less time scrolling on Facebook, set some goals for how much you wish to read each day, each month and each year.
Breaking or establishing a habit isn’t a one and done maneuver.
Instead, it is a series of actions and commitments that bring about a gradual change in who you are and how you operate in the world. Having a plan and putting it into action every day can help you visualize what you want and bring it into your reality.
Creating a vision board and practicing daily affirmations will help you achieve your goals by keeping them top of mind.
Accountability is a big motivator when it comes to establishing healthy new habits. This is why I recommend making a public declaration of your intentions.
If you’ve told people that you plan to cut meat out of your diet, you’re less likely to give into temptation the next time you’re out with friends and order those steak fajitas.
When appropriate, you can also work with accountability buddies so that you and a friend both stay on the right path.
Remember to think with positivity and determination about your goal.
The Law of Attraction says that what we let into our minds is what we let into our lives. Discover that you are backsliding into defeatist patterns?
3. “Cancel, Cancel”
Use the “Cancel, Cancel” method to banish those negative thoughts.
If you catch yourself thinking, “I’ll never lose the weight” cancel that thought immediately by saying, “Cancel, cancel,” and replace it with a positive thought about achieving your goals instead.
If you backslide, just take the time to be grateful that tomorrow offers another chance to be better than you were today.
Over time, you’ll find that the better habit becomes the new, automatic one and that you are happier, healthier, and on your way to a new way of life.
What’s a bad habit that you have that you’d like to break?