Habits are formed from consistently thinking, talking, doing something, or behaving in a certain way. A lot of times habits are formed unconsciously.
Habits can be either positive or negative. I’ve had bad habits such as chewing my nails, swearing, watching too much TV, drinking alcohol too much and too regularly. I’ve had good habits of daily reading, daily writing, eating healthy, and exercising regularly.
[bctt tweet=”The best way to stop a bad habit is to replace it with a good one. ” username=”justjyll”]
For swearing, I replaced common swear words with more creative words. “CRIMES!” is my favorite. For TV and drinking alcohol, I started tracking exactly how much I watched or drank. Consciously becoming aware of these habits helped me to decrease them and even stop them completely for periods of time.
Once I got my TV watching and alcohol consumption under control, I no longer needed to track it consciously. Now, not drinking is more of a habit than drinking was. Does that make sense? I reversed the habit. (I never drank so much until I came to Belize…can you say RUM? Crimes!!!)
There are four things you need to create a habit.
Recognition and Desire
Recognize what your habits are. Investigate if the habit is useful or not useful to have in your life.
Some habits may jump out at you and clearly be positive, or negative. Others may need further review to discover how they impact your life.
You may also have a strong desire or yearning to create a certain habit, especially if incorporating this habit in your life will lead you to your goals.
Simply decide. Make the decision that you are going to create a habit. This could be a new habit in itself or a new habit to replace an existing habit.
Decide what you are willing to do to create this new habit and make it a part of your life, and lifestyle, or who you are.
What are the components of this new habit? How you will implement the new habit in your life?
Action + Time of Day
Take Action. Start doing the new habit.
Each of us has a time of day where we are brighter, clearer, and more productive. If your habit involves “doing” something you may want to consider this for yourself.
Back in college (early 1990’s), I never forgot one of the studies that showed people who exercised first thing in the morning were more apt to exercise regularly than people who didn’t. I’m a morning person and for me, this was very true.
When my work schedule was such that I woke up at 4:00 AM to get to work by 5:30 AM, the way I adjusted for exercise was to take my gym bag with me to work. After work, I would go directly to the gym and exercise at 2:30 PM. This wasn’t ideal but it was better than the alternative – waking up at 3:00 AM to exercise.
I decided exercise was important to me and a habit I wanted to create. I figured out how to make it work in my schedule and I took action and did it. I exercised consistently for 18 weeks in a row (interrupted by my vacation!!).
So pick a time of day where you will be more likely to complete the task in order to create a consistent habit.
Commitment to Outcome/Result
THEY say it takes 21 days to create a habit. I agree with that. So, commit to performing the new habit consistently and regularly.
Some habits might be easier to form. For example, if you wanted to change your self-talk from negative to positive, it will take more of a conscious effort on your part to pay attention to what your thoughts are when they are on auto-pilot. Once you notice them, you will then need to reframe them to a positive statement. This takes more effort than driving to the gym after work.
While reading this, did you recognize any habits you have that you would like to get rid of? Any that you would like to incorporate into your life? Let me know in the comments!