We all have them: bad habits. And, for most of us, we want to break them. But, between a lack of willpower and a seemingly endless number of demands on our plate, we never seem to get around to it.
Here’s what successful people do to change their habits, and what you can learn from them.
Choose A Substitute Behavior
We all have habits and behaviors we’re not proud of. It’s also a sign of humanity to have flaws. But, that doesn’t mean that you have to live with them. Most people think of ditching bad habits as giving up something. You can’t think that way. You have to genuinely believe that you’re getting rid of something.
And, to do that, you need to fill the “hole” left by that habit with something else. In other words, you need to replace your bad habits with other habits — good ones.
For example, if you have a bad sweet tooth, you want to replace that with good oral hygiene habits. Not just eating well, but dental habits like going to the dentist. If you can’t afford visits to the dentist’s office, you can try to hunt for deals on CarefreeDENTAL.
The important thing is to set up overwhelmingly positive habits.
Triggers are things you associate with your bad habits. For example, if you’re a smoker, you might eat then smoke, or you might smoke first thing with your cup of coffee. You might smoke on your lunch break. These are all triggers — the food, the coffee, the lunch break.
Obviously, you can’t avoid eating, but you can replace your trigger by re-associating habits and behaviors with them. For example, instead of smoking after you eat, try chewing gum or doing something else entirely.
Fight only one trigger at a time. Don’t try to tackle everything all at once. By splitting up your battles into manageable bites, you can focus all your willpower on a single trigger to overcome it. Once you’ve got a handle on one, move onto the next one and keep going until they’re all eliminated.
Surround Yourself With Different People
Suppose your bad habits are associated with a certain crowd of people. Maybe you drink a lot. Or, maybe you just hang around a crowd of people who are lazy or overweight, or who are generally negative people.
If you want to lose weight, you should hang around people who are either doing it right now, who have done it and are working out at the gym to stay in shape, or people who are very active and healthy.
That switch in your social circle will help you stay motivated because you’re associating with people who are already accomplishing the thing you want to accomplish.
Visualize Your Success
If you want to succeed at something, you should first visualize that success. See yourself throwing away your cigarettes, and enjoying the feeling of overcoming your bad habit.
You don’t need to actually be someone else. You just need to visualize a better version of yourself. Often, we think that to break our habits that we need to become an entirely new person. That’s not true. You only need to find the person within you that’s already where you want to be. Think about it. You already have the potential to be the person you want to be. Otherwise, why would you be tempted to try?
You don’t need to transform into a healthy person. You just need to change one habit at a time, find the healthy mindset inside yourself (it’s already there), and let that version of you dominate.
Turn Negativity Around
People often stop themselves from achieving their goals by telling themselves that they’re not something or reminding themselves of their bad habit or condition. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s tempting to say to yourself, “I’m fat.” Yes, that might be true. However, you can turn this around by finishing the sentence, “I’m fat, but I’m changing my eating habits and exercising more.”
Every time you slip up and deviate from your goals, you can tell yourself that you’re no good. Or, you can tell yourself that you did make a mistake, but you’re going to change your behavior and redouble your efforts. You can scold yourself or you can identify the mistake and outline how you will prevent it from happening in the future.
We all slip up. We all fall down. The difference between those that succeed and those that fail is that successful people get back up and keep trying.
Alexandra Frost works as a life coach. She enjoys walking her dogs on the beach, spending time with friends and family and writing articles, mostly for lifestyle blogs.