Break Those Bad Habits
The saying “old habits die hard” is so true. I’ve never quite understood the paradox. Eating too many sweets, not sticking to a budget, hitting the snooze button on your alarm, not exercising, running late for meetings… the list goes on (and on).
Why is it so much easier to do the things that are not good for us, rather than things that are — like eating healthy, exercising, sticking to a budget, working through the to-do list? I ask myself this often.
“Wah, wah, wah…”
I was on an airplane recently, and the women behind me spent the entire time talking about all the things they would like to differently… and what was wrong with their lives.
They dished on work, diet, social life, and more. I found it depressing. I was starting to think the gray clouds outside the window were wafting right on into the plane!
What was most interesting — and disturbing —was that not once did these ladies say what they were doing to address their complaints.
They took no responsibility for any part in the various situations. It was always someone else’s fault. Or it was outside forces they decided they had no control over.
You Gotta Own it!
The truth is, we are each responsible for our own actions and the habits we create. And unless we take on this responsibility, we set the stage for unfulfilled dreams and a negative existence.
When we become responsible for our actions, we silence the negative thoughts and behaviors and replace them with positive, goal-oriented thoughts. We create positive habits to guide ourselves.
So, I think it’s time to quit the excuses, the blaming and any kind of “woe is me” attitude. Take on the responsibility for your own life – create good habits, choose you!
The good news is, whether you are trying to break a bad habit or create a new one, the process is similar. Let’s take a look three Power Challenges for creating better habits.
Power Challenge #1 – Identify Just ONE Habit
When I was doing research around bad habits, I found numerous articles listing the top 10 and top 20 bad habits to avoid. I even found one about the top 283 bad habits — now that’s just crazy!
Don’t try to do too much at one time.
People who want to change their habits often make a common mistake: They try to do too much at one time. They feel such a strong desire to change that they go for a total makeover of their behavior — all at once!
If you have ever done that yourself, you may have seen that you were setting yourself up for failure. Creating a new or better habit demands a behavior change. It takes attention, time and persistence.
When you dilute your effort by trying to do too much at once, you end up getting frustrated and losing confidence in yourself. And then you just quit trying.
Start with one habit at a time.
Create success by starting with small steps — even baby steps. Trust that even small changes will have real impact. Then, as you progress, you can always give yourself bigger targets or goals. Changing habits is a marathon, not a sprint.
Power Challenge #2 – Be Honest with Yourself
I think we’ve all been like those women on the plane at one time or another. We talk about changing a habit. We say we WANT to. We say we NEED to. And yet… we don’t act. We just keep talking about it.
If you have identified a habit to change, now challenge yourself with this: Do you really want to change? Change takes commitment and effort. Are you really willing to go through the effort of change? Or are you still at the stage of just complaining about it?
To change a habit, you have to want to change your behavior; you have to have the desire.
Unless you have fully embraced the idea of change, you likely won’t succeed. I know it’s hard work, but you have to believe that you can do it. If you think you will fail, you probably will.
Spend some time writing in your journal or sitting quietly so that you can get honest and real with yourself. And if you aren’t ready to change, that’s OK. Pick a different habit, or postpone the change until you are really ready to commit.
Power Challenge #3 – Plan. And Be Patient.
You have to commit the time and energy necessary to succeed, if you want to break bad habits or be successful in goal setting.
As an example, let’s use the goal of losing weight. Most everyone is familiar with the desire to shed a few pounds.
First, make your goal specific and realistic.
For example, “I want to lose 15 pounds over the next three months,” not “During this month I want to lose all the weight I gained in the last 12 months.”
Second, make a plan.
Are you going to join Weight Watchers, or follow a weight loss plan that you monitor yourself? Planning is the most critical step. Make sure you document your goal: what it is, how you are going to do it, what obstacles will you face and how will you overcome them. I find that when you map out your plan and document it, you are more likely to be successful.
Third, don’t try to do too much, too fast.
Many people will try to starve themselves the first week. They’ll try to go to the gym every single day. They either hurt themselves or burn out, before they even get started!
Fourth, seek the support of friends and family.
Tell friends and co-workers about your plan and ask them to support you. Tell them what that support means to you. Is it a kind word of encouragement? Is it something more? Accountability is a strong motivator. With encouragement and support, your journey to breaking a bad habit or adopting a good one will not be a lonely one.
You can use these same steps for any resolution, whether it’s for work or something more personal. Once you have a plan in place, and you’ve made a start, be patient. Change takes time as you re-train yourself.
Hold yourself accountable, but don’t beat yourself up.
Don’t be harsh with yourself if you have a miss. Recommit, and remind yourself that change doesn’t happen overnight.
Remember to be patient. It may take longer than you want; however, if you are patient, the end result will be worth it.
You Can Do It!
Changing a bad habit into a good one is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself. Don’t postpone it any longer! Remember to pick just one habit, be honest with yourself about it, make a good plan and gain support. Take your time and celebrate step by step. I know you can do it!
Looking for a motivational speaker for your next event? Carla energizes and inspires attendees to be the best version of themselves that they can be. Contact her today.