Habits are behaviors that we’ve learned and that occur almost automatically. Some of our habits are good, and some we want to change. For example, you may have the wish to make exercise a habit. Changing habits can be easier than one thinks, important is the will or wish to do it.
For most people, it takes about three weeks or 21 days for a new behavior to become routine, or habit. The following 7 steps can make it possible for you to establish a new behavior pattern:
1. Set your goal
Write down your Goal on a card. It is very important that your goal is written as a positive statement and in the present tense and it includes some reward that you can have by changing your habit. For example you want to exercise regularly so that you built a nice body. Your goal card should be similar to:
“I am so happy and grateful now that I exercise 3 times per week and my body is so defined, just the way I love it.”
Writing it to a paper helps you to commit. Carry this little goal card with you and look at it as much as you can during the day.
2. Decide on the schedule to perform the replacement behavior.
For example if your goal is to exercise you should set the hours that you will go to the gym. If your goal is to loose weight, then preparing meals or dedicate time to eat in peace and exercise mindfulness is also important. If you want to stop a behavior, you must have an alternative behavior to put in it’s place. If you don’t, the old behavior pattern will return.
3. Learn and be aware of your triggers.
Behavior patterns don’t exist independently. Often, one habit is associated with another part of your regular routine. For instance, in the exercise example the trigger may be long working hours and finally getting home. You automatically sit on the couch and loose the motivation to go to the gym or exercise. Learn your triggers and develop a plan, for example take the gym bag with you and go to the gym directly after work or in case of diet avoid having things around that you can grab and eat. Think about when and why you do the thing you want to quit.
4. Post reminders to yourself.
You can do this by leaving yourself notes in the places where the behavior usually occurs. Or you can leave yourself a message on the mirror, refrigerator, computer monitor or some other place where you will see it regularly. I use my mobile’s screen.
5. Get help and support from someone.
This is kind of obvious. Any job is easier with help. It works even better if you can form a partnership with someone who shares the same goal. Try to find an accountability partner. Someone with the same goals would be perfect but anybody would do.
6. Write daily affirmations.
Write your phrase or sentence in the present tense (as if it is already happening), and write it ten times a day for twenty-one days. This process helps make your goal a part of your subconscious, which will not only remind you to practice the new behavior, but it also keeps you focused and motivated.
7. Reward yourself for making progress at set time intervals.
Focus on your goal one day at a time, but give yourself a small treat at one, three and six months. The rewards don’t have to be big or expensive, and you should try to make it something that’s associated in some way with the goal. Doing this provides you with both incentive and extra motivation.
Following these steps and stay persistent will help you to make the new habit to a routine. Do not give up and you will succeed.
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