It is mid-year. We have gotten well beyond the heady rush of New Year’s resolutions, words, and however else we choose to mark our necessary changes.
Statistically, most of us have already fallen off the proverbial wagon and gone back to doing the things they wanted to remove from their lives. Today, let’s see if we can get back to it…
1. Find your “why.” Determine why you should start your new habit. Is it detrimental to your health? Screwing up your appearance? Putting a serious dent in your wallet? Does it make you act irrationally? Does it hurt your loved ones? Sit down and make a list of the benefits that you will receive when you do put an end to this habit once and for all.
If you can find no compelling reason to start this new thing or habit in your life, then the chances are very high that you will want to quit when things get tough.
2. Baby steps. Focus on only one small step each week to ensure long lasting results. For example, if you are working at losing weight, you might want to eliminate sweets from your diet for the first week. The next week, consider eliminating some of the other carbohydrates, like white bread, in addition to the sweets.
That old childhood adage, “slow and steady win the race” is true. A crash diet will not help instill a habit of eating healthier. And, quitting almost anything cold turkey often leads to some other compensatory behavior. This is one of the reasons that most people who are quitting smoking gain weight. We have an oral fixation that must be satisfied. Additionally, if the compensatory habit is just as much of an issue as the one that you are trying to break, then this will grind your progress to a halt and you will have to start all over again at step one.
Have measurable goals. What does that mean? If you are trying to minimize your spending, keep a record, sit down and determine the average amount you spend each week in unnecessary purchases. Like what? How about that double espresso latte fix you feed every morning. Once you know where the “leak” is, then set a goal to reduce that amount by 10% for the first week. Maybe skip one day the first week, then move on from there.
3. Give yourself a carrot. Of course, when there is a direct reward at the end of your journey, you will be much more inclined to give it your best effort. Indulge in a trip to the spa, get a new outfit for work or make a trip to your favorite restaurant each time you reach a large milestone.
Ensure that your reward is connected to the new habit your are trying to install. Save the largest rewards for last. What do you want the most? What is something you have wished you could purchase or experience for a long time? Spend the time you would normally spend indulging in your habit to plan your pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.
Habits, good ones and bad ones, provide us with a level of comfort that everything in our world is okay. They serve to give us some feeling of control over our circumstances. But, our focus today is on installing good habits, and to lead the lives we desire.
How do we get from #1 to completion of #3? This is where the old school tip comes in.
Remember when you were a small child, at school, and/ or home, when you made progress or did chores, how was it marked? Gold Stars? We were thrilled to see those stars stuck on the tops of our papers at school. And if there were chores or tasks to complete at school or at home, there was often a chart with stars. And, there were rewards when the allotted space was filled with these golden treasures. A cheap prize. Ability to skip a quiz. Something that meant something to us, something important.
They demonstrated to us that we were successful in completing our work in a sterling fashion.
My 4 year old granddaughter does her “chores” at home for the joy of earning money of her own that she can spend when she goes shopping with Mommy.
I am on the mend from an injury and cannot do a lot physically yet, but I have started some really simple exercises to begin to get the other parts of my body toned in anticipation of beginning physical therapy, and some real work. Each week, I add a tiny bit more. Every day that I complete this simplistic routine, I get a star. I hate to see a break in those stars. We all have a little perfectionism under the skin. But every day I earn a star, I know that I am putting in the work to get stronger, and to get back to my regular life. The big carrot at the end will be freedom to travel again.
1. Choose the new habit you wish to install.
2. Write it down.
3. Break it down into doable actionable segments
4. Make a chart, with tasks and dates.
5. Purchase some stars- Teacher’s supply shop, Wal-mart, Dollar Store, Amazon.
6. Begin the beneficial work you know you need to do.
You are the boss of your mind, body, and soul.
Embark on the road to installing your good habit today and prove to yourself just how much confidence you can have in yourself!