I’ve got a fact for you that shocked me to the core when I read it.
Right now, the year 2050 is closer than the year 1990.
I know, right?
For me, 1990 doesn’t seem like it’s all that long ago. It still has a ‘just the other day’ vibe about it.
And 2050? Don’t get me started on that. I thought we’d be living on a space station circling Jupiter with a host of whimsical other alien species by then.
But it’s only as far away as 1990 now.
This is the sneaky trick of time.
Discipline - It’s either about motivation, or it’s about focus. ..John Giaan
To start the year off on a positive note, I thought we’d do something a bit different…
While everyone around you is busy trying to make New Year Resolutions to start off new habits which will probably disappear by the end of January (😊 ) you on the other hand will be doing something which might seem a bit counter-productive at first.. you will be trying to break a bad habit!
However I urge you togive it a go and you will see that rather than making empty promises to yourself, you are getting to the heart of how to change your own behaviour which make space for you to adopt more sustainable habits.
1. UNDERSTAND THE LOOP OF HABITS.
The first step is probably the hardest as here is when you are admitting to yourself that you have a problem, as they say acknowledging you have a problem is half the battle won.
Understanding the trigger/cues that set you off to do the bad habit is perhaps the best initial step as if you can master this step upfront, the rest of the steps will be a breeze. As creatures of habit we tend to do things
• A visual trigger (a place/space you visit)
This could be the bathroom, your bed, the corridor,…
• A time trigger
This could be a specific time (07:00 AM)
• An emotional trigger
This could be a specific feeling: angry, sad, happy, bored,…
A reward is the reason you execute the routine. 99% of the time this is a feeling
that makes you happy and satisfied. Sports is a great example, because after you are done, you feel so much better! You feel like you have done something good for your body. By learning to observe the triggers and the rewards you can change the habits!
The routine is the step by step procedure you follow when the cue has been given. You don’t actively think about it anymore. Your brain is controlling this procedure in auto-pilot, so you have free working space in your brain. Sounds pretty much like a computer right?
The definition of craving is an intense desire or longing. We can consciously smoke a cigarette, when we get mad and not get mentally addicted. By the way, did you know the physical toxins that keep you addicted to cigarettes are no longer in your body after you quit smoking for 2 weeks?
2. FORM A WINNING STRATEGY
CREATE A LOGBOOK
Start monitoring your behaviour. While you are analysing your habit loop and you found the trigger, the routine, the event and the craving, you should be able to become more aware of what is going on inside your brain. Write down when exactly you are doing this unwanted behaviour. Soon you will realise it doesn’t make any sense to do it, and you will start to question why you ever started this routine. Also write down the pains you feel when thinking consciously about these habits you want to change.
When there is a life event that has impact on you, someone in your surroundings gets cancer, your dog dies, someone important is going through a major change,… it’s easier to change your habits. Humans are creatures of habit, so most of the time they will resist change. When you start accepting it and try to look at it from a positive side, you will be able to change your life completely. Like many others have done before you. Maybe this is someone you want to have in your community?
Set goals, read more about setting goals and changing habits, and celebrate the smallest victories. If you are a heavy smoker, give yourself a treat after you didn’t smoke for a day. But make sure you don’t use a treat that will reinforce your habit. So in our example, don’t treat yourself with another cigarette. Depending on the habit and how frequently they occur, you might want to celebrate after a day, a week, a month,… The general rule here is, the harder this habit is baked inside your brain, the faster you need to celebrate and be happy about your changes and results!
3. REPLACE IT, WITH A GOOD ONE
FIND THE FEELING YOU HAVE RIGHT BEFORE THE ROUTINE
Start finding the cues by writing down the feeling you have RIGHT before you execute the routine you want to change. If you want to learn more about this look up awareness training. But the name says it all. By becoming aware of what you are doing (remember a habit is an action you don’t, at least not consciously, think about while doing), you are halfway stopping the habit or enforcing it if that is your intention.
KEEP THE TRIGGER AND THE REWARD, CHANGE THE ROUTINE
It’s easier to replace the habit, then to just stop with a fully integrated routine. So if you understand what your habit loop looks like, work on changing the routine.
4. TAKE ACTION NOW AND BE DETERMINED
We as human beings have the capacity to do incredible things. Imagine there was a time without any lights, airplanes, cell phones, internet, cars,… These people are not that special. Most of the time it was a little bit of luck, determination and hard work.
5. FIND A COMMUNITY
If there is not one person in your environment that could be helping you to change, go look online for communities to get rid of the nasty habit. There are communities for everything these days, but look for the positive ones. A good one in Australia is MeetUps. Here you will meet people who know the process you are going through because they have been there and done that.
The best feeling you can have to stop a habit is, knowing someone has done it before you. Although it was not always easy, eventually, they got what they wanted. A better life.
First it is an Intention. Then a Behaviour. Then a Habit. Then a Practice. Then Second Nature. Then it is Simply Who You Are
If you are serious about creating new habits, then you might want to start with creating new habits around your style which will go a long way to increasing confidence and self esteem, and ultimately your life. Click the picture below to get started.