Unless you are perfect, you probably have a habit that drives you or others crazy. The conflicting nature of bad habits makes them difficult to overcome. Some common bad habits most of us can relate to are eating unhealthy foods, smoking, showing up late to appointments or events, procrastination, and laziness instead of exercising. The good news is that whatever behaviors you wish to change, you have the power to change them.
Consider these strategies for inspiration:
- Avoid getting overwhelmed. Realize your goal now is to simply decrease the occurrence of whatever behavior you want to change. As you endeavor to gradually reduce the occurrence of the behavior, you will feel better and more in control, and you may be able to stop altogether.
- Focus on a daily mini goal to help you make small adjustments. Let’s say you typically eat more breads and carbohydrates than recommended. You have two bowls of cereal for breakfast and eat two sandwiches for lunch. You want to reduce your daily carbs; however, you are caught in a vicious cycle and keep eating the same things each day. How do you take a step forward to change?
- Set a specific mini goal to reduce the carbohydrates you eat by making one small change daily. This will motivate you to continue until this habit becomes a positive one and you start seeing the results in your weight and the way you feel about yourself.
- Another example could be at lunch. Rather than eating two sandwiches, add extra meat, cheese, and vegetables to one sandwich. You will still have a filling lunch, but you will reduce your bread intake by half.
- After you have persevered in altering your meal for six weeks to two months, then you can set another mini goal to replace your second bowl of cereal with a bowl of fruit. Now, you are on a roll and feeling optimistic and ready to tackle another mini goal in your quest to reduce carbohydrates in your diet.
- Use time intervals to control your negative habit. Maybe you are a procrastinator. When there is a project that you dread doing and tend to put it off, make a schedule in your calendar for each step of the project and stick to it. This way, instead of feeling overwhelmed, it will appear more manageable, and you will feel more productive.
- Reward yourself for your successes. Every day, document on a calendar how you did. As an example, if you met your mini goal, record it as something like “MMG” for “met mini goal.” You could also jot down the number of times you gave into the behavior that day – this method works well for those working to reduce habits such as smoking. Then write something you want to do for yourself as a reward. Use your calendar information at the end of the month to determine if you were successful 75 percent of the time in your attempts to change your habit. If so, then treat yourself to the reward you wrote down. This will strengthen future efforts to break your habit.
Although changing habits can be challenging, breaking them by using these one-day-at-a-time techniques is possible! So, write down some of the habits you have thought about breaking, then use these strategies to make the changes you want and start feeling better about yourself and your life.