Like Aristotle once said “we are what we repeatedly do”, the great part of working on yourself is to deal with your habit – the usual way of thinking and the usual behavior or routine. I’ll start with the simplest introduction to the subject, and that is the definition of a habit. Habit is behavior which repeats automatically, usually etched in our subconscious mind. If you instinctively reach for a coffee the moment you wake up in the morning, you have a habit. From time to time, we have struggle with achieving our goals because of our bad habits, and usually lacking good habits. Sometimes the best way to quit a bad habit is just to say “no more!” and continue with self-discipline, but it’s not easy in many cases. So, let’s go through some steps of getting rid of a bad habit.
#1 Be serious and strict when you’re deciding to change or remove the habit.
There is no ‘should’, ‘could’, and for the sake of success, there is no ‘maybe’. Be honest to yourself. Don’t decide to cut out fried potatoes when your cholesterol is already over 300 mg/dL while looking at the ceiling in the emergency ambulance. Be willing to admit that you have a struggle with something, and decide to take action before it’s too late. Seeing other people change successfully is inspiring, but you need to see yourself as having what it takes to make those changes within.
#2 Ask yourself what is causing your bad habit. What do you think you deserve?
Do you unconsciously try to thwart your own success because you don’t feel you deserve to do well in life? Do you fail to engage in good health habits because you don’t think your body deserves to be treated properly? Most of the times, our self-beliefs and self-perception are the roots of our habits. Think of switching your negative deep beliefs, because you deserve more than you think you deserve.
#3 Set new reasonable goals, and keep in mind that the patience is the key.
Your bad habits have taken years to establish themselves, so it will take time to get rid of them and form the new ones. Now we come to the part of forming good habits:
#1 Set a goal, visualize it, and focus on one habit at the time.
Identify it now and learn as much as you can about how to do it properly.
#2 Commit to a new habit for at least two weeks.
If you don’t feel like you formed it afterward, then add few more weeks. It depends on a habit, some of them require up to two months, or even more, to form.
#3 Take baby steps, focus on the small wins.
Imagine that you’re a couch potato, and you say to yourself that you’re going to run each day for 2 hours, starting on Monday. Guess what happens… You’ll try to run on Monday, get yourself almost killed, and then you will suddenly find the new best thing on Netflix and claim that happened for a reason, God’s will… The brain gets afraid of big decisions, so trick it with small barely noticeable changes.
#4 No exceptions to your new habit.
Don’t make excuses or rationalizations. Take your discipline to the highest level until your habit becomes automatic.
#5 Resolve to persist in the new behavior until it is so automatic and easy that you actually feel uncomfortable when you do not do what you have decided to do.
A simple example is stopping eating junk food, and after a while, you can’t even imagine putting that massive fat into your mouth. Or you develop a habit of a regular exercising, and then you hate those days and having energy loss, when you skip, or need to skip, them.
#6 Give yourself a reward of some kind for practicing in the new behavior.
Each time you reward yourself, you reinforce the behavior.