Check the dictionary and you will find that a habit is an acquired pattern of behavior that often occurs automatically. Habits are things that you do subconsciously, often not even thinking about it. They are part of your daily routine and can often be hard to break. Have you ever got in the car to drive home from work thinking, “I’ve really got to stop and pick up some milk from the shop”, and the next thing you know, you’re at home without the milk! This is an example of a habit, and these habits that are part of your daily life can be both bad and good.
It depends on whether they add quality to your life or not. It would be exhausting to have to go through the day concentrating on everything you do – like washing the dishes or brushing your teeth. These are things that we do on autopilot that help life run more smoothly. There are also negative things that become habits, however, such as worrying about things at work or doubting your ability to achieve things, which can hold you back in life, and stop you from achieving the level of success that you desire.
It is difficult to break old habits and install new, positive habits. Ever tried to get fit or lose weight and you’ll know what I mean! It takes time, and effort to begin something new, and stick to it, and it is only once you have been doing it for some time does it begin to become a habit. Studies have shown that it takes approximately a month of consistent effort to instill a new habit or break an old one, so it will take some time and perseverance on your part, but there are a few simple things that you can do to make the transition a great deal easier and ensure your success.
Decide on the habit that you are going to change –
Once you have done this, you are half way towards making the change. If you don’t have a goal, then you will never achieve it! Successful people have goals, and this can be a differentiating factor in your success.
Substitute negative habits for positive habits –
Once you have decided on the habit to change, you need to decide what habit you will replace it with. This is very powerful and will accelerate your progress.
Write down the new habit–
Take a piece of paper and write your new habit down. Say it out loud to yourself and then put it in your pocket. Carry it around with you and take it out and read it to yourself throughout the day. Read it out loud first thing in the morning and then the last thing at night.
Visualize yourself doing your new habit –
Visualization techniques are very powerful and can have a great impact on your subconscious mind. If you have never tried it before, then try out this simple exercise. Lie down in a quiet comfortable environment and feel your whole body relaxing as the tension from each of your muscles disappears. Once you feel relaxed, imagine yourself doing your new habit. Make the images bright, colorful and bold, and imagine what you are saying and doing as you carry out your new habit. Smell the smells, hear the sounds and feel the emotions. Really put yourself into the situation and make it as real as possible. Do this at least once a day and the effect that this will have on your subconscious mind (and ultimately on your behavior) will be huge.
Ensure you have plenty of reminders –
Put up notes on your fridge, set alarms in your calendar or phone, take out the piece of paper that you have in your pocket and read it to yourself throughout the day.
Be patient and persevere –
the first month may be difficult, and you may suffer from lapses, but remind yourself that these things take time. You are only human after all. With consistent effort and determination, you can succeed.
Although breaking a habit can take time and effort, the steps involved are relatively simple but can have a lasting impact on your success and overall happiness in life. Good Luck!