Recently, I listened to a YouTube video where Jeff Johnson said, “Habits will either create lifestyle growth or inhibit lifestyle growth. “
Most of my life I have been working to improve my habitual life. Here are a few things that I had learned over the years about building good habits and getting rid of those habits that do not contribute to growth.
Made Changes Incrementally
I learned that I needed to get rid of bad habits incrementally rather than trying to do it “cold turkey”. When I quit smoking 27 years ago, I had to stop smoking menthols before I quit smoking all together. Then I went from smoking a pack a day to smoking 15 per day down to 10 per day and so on until I was down to smoking two or three a day, and then I was able to quit.
I broke habits that didn’t bring me growth by first disconnecting with triggers. For instance, I would smoke as soon as I got out of bed. I determined to put off my first cigarette until after I ate breakfast. Once I put off smoking the first cigarette beyond breakfast I then stopped smoking when I drank coffee.
Replace Bad Habits with Good Ones
One of the bad habits that I am trying to break right now regards eating junk food. I decided that I would replace the junk food with fresh fruit and nuts. This is just one step that I am taking to improve my diet. More habit changes are in the works.
Build new habits around habits that are already established. We all have habits that we have already established. I get up, make my bed, take my shower, brush my teeth, and then I write in my journal for fifteen minutes and then I exercise. I am building this new habit incrementally-exercising for five minutes per day weeks 1-3, ten minutes weeks 4-6 twenty minutes weeks 7-9, twenty-five minutes weeks 10-12 and 30 minutes weeks 13-15.
Change Begins in the Mind
Probably the most important aspect of changing habits, however, is the changes that happen in the mind. The most important aspect of changing habits has to do with “why change?” We change because we first become emotionally desperate to change. We change because we need to change more than we need to stay the same.
Know Your Why
Journaling why we want to quit is more important as we become more adept in the habit change than it does when we first start the habit change. As time goes on, we forget how painful the old habit had been. When we are tempted to go back to the old habits, it helps to go back and read what we wrote when we first quit. It reminds us of where we came from and the struggles that got us to where we were now.
Having an accountability partner is helpful. Having a mentor (sponsor) or being part of a group that are trying to change in the same ways that you are, are the powerful social influences in habit change.
What have you personally done to change your own habits? What habits have you changed and how did you do it?