Our habits: for good or for bad they're with us every day, in the form of behavior that has become so routine that we repeat it unconsciously.
For some, habit means arriving at work to a well-planned day with everything they need to get started already in place; for others it means sorting through all the unfinished tasks they abandoned the evening before and trying to remember the priorities.
Simply put, a bad habit is an undesirable behavior pattern--and even the best of us have one or two.
Here's the good news: The sooner you recognize your own bad habits, the easier it is to fix them. It's a matter of overwriting the old imprint on your neural pathways with something more positive, and that happens through consistent repetition of the new behavior.
Research says that to break a habit and replace it with a new pattern takes 66 days. That may seem like a long time, but when you look at the big picture it's not a bad price to pay for freedom from the ways you're holding yourself back.
Get started now with these eight powerful techniques:
1. Commit to a goal. Many people think about breaking a habit, but on some level they're not certain that they really want to change. It takes true commitment to a goal to create change. Failing to commit wholeheartedly means failing to succeed.
2. Understand the habit. In order to change something, you need to have awareness of yourself. Most habits are habits because they reward you on some level. Ask yourself how your habit rewards you, and how you can replace that reward with something healthier.
3. Make a plan. Studies show that having a clear, specific plan greatly increases your chances of successfully breaking a habit. It helps break down the unwanted behaviors and allows you to create new action plans to cope in various circumstances. Remember failing to plan--is planning to fail.
4. Visualize success. Repeatedly imagine yourself engaging in desired behaviors and enjoying their benefits. Imagine situations in which you would be tempted to engage in the undesired behavior and choose a better option. This positive visualization helps reinforce new behavior patterns.
5. Create barriers to the habit. If you can create obstacles that make the habit difficult or unpleasant, this can help you break the routines that have reinforced it in the past.
6. Start small. Some habits can be difficult to change because the solution seems so daunting. Start small and work to find success in those small steps, then increase them to meet your ultimate goal.
7. Be patient. When you're working to change a habit, be patient and kind with yourself. It is a long and time-consuming process, and you have to give yourself the encouragement you need to stick with it.
8. Reward your successes. Because habits are created when a behavior is rewarded in some way, a great way to create new habits is to reward yourself for good behavior and do it in a way that makes you feel good.
Nothing is stronger than a habit. Motivation is what will get you started, and your determination will get you to break a bad habit forever.