There are times during the year when we evaluate the things we’ve been able to improve and accomplish the goals we’ve been able to meet, and the new relationships we’ve been able to form. This is different for everyone, but I would suggest at least once a quarter if not once a month. You may ask yourself, “Have I improved on the person I am inside?” For me improving the person inside means improving on some of my habits, or changing a bad habit.
Our habits dictate our lives right? Good and bad habits can make or break our success in any area of our lives. But many times we make a plan to change a habit, implement that plan, then find ourselves letting the ball drop and going right back to the old habit we were trying to change.
The key to changing a habit is consistency. Remember it takes 21 days to change a habit. But to be consistent you have to be aware of what you’re doing and aware of the environment that you’re in at the time. Here are 3 steps you can use to become aware of and change a habit that maybe you’re not so fond of.
1 – For the next 7 days (more if you choose to) you’ll want to try and be very aware of what you’re doing and what causes the habit to pop up. Each time you notice yourself doing the habit you’re trying to change, write down where you were, what you were doing, and what happened. For example:
Do you reach for the plate of cookies right before dinner?
Do you sleep through your morning gym class when you stay up late the night before?
Do you procrastinate doing something that is uncomfortable and instead look for something that can be done quickly and easily?
2 – Write it all down. When you start to take note of when this habit raises it’s ugly head, you’re going to become more and more aware of your surroundings and what may have been the catalyst. This will make it easier to change or form a new habit in its place. This is a simple technique but the consistency is key here. This may seem like a bit of a hassle, but I guarantee you it will be so much easier to change a bad habit if you become aware of when and why you’re doing it. It will get much easier to change as you start to see situations in which your unwanted habit comes out. By writing down the circumstances and environment you are in, you can go back and start to see any patterns that arise. This will make it much easier to create a plan of action to change the habit.
3 – At the same time you are tracking this information, try to write down ways that would help you in changing the habit you don’t want.
ie: keep the plate of cookies out of sight or eat sooner before you’re really hungry; set a time to go to bed that gives you the amount of hours of sleep you need; when you feel uncomfortable with something you may procrastinate take JUST a chunk of it to take action on. You get the idea here. As soon as you are aware and understand why and where your habit pops up you will have the “ammo” you need to “crush it”!
Again, you’ve heard that to change a habit takes 21 days. But how many times have you started into your 21-day change only to find yourself falling off the wagon at day 10? Frustrated because you really don’t know where you got tripped up!
By making yourself more aware of where and why your unruly habits pop up you can take control and create consistency in change. It may seem a small insignificant thing to do, but over time it makes a big difference. And if you do fall off the wagon (as we all do at times), just get yourself up, dust yourself off, and move forward again one more time.
Change a habit, change your life.