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What is a habit? What do you think of when you hear the word habit? If you’re like most people, you may very well hear the word habit and associate something negative with it. Smoking, overeating, and always being late, for instance, are negative habits.
However, habits can and do show up as something positive in your life. A habit doesn’t have to have negative connotations. Many people, in addition to thinking habits are bad, also think breaking old habit and replacing them with new habits is painful. This does not have to be the case.
Let’s look at how habits can be beneficial and how they have the potential to change your life for the better.
The Idea of Habits
Before you begin thinking about habits, it’s important to look at your perception of habits. As with you many things, it all begins with mindset.
For our purposes here, we’ll put habits into two categories: either good or bad. A bad habit is one which needs to be changed or completely erased from your life. A good habit is something you would be advised to have or create.
Once you begin to see how your association with habits resonates, then you can begin to change them for the better. When you begin to think about habits, start thinking of them as a new positive creation rather than something which needs to get done and is a chore.
Ending old habits
Before taking on the creation of new habits, it’s important to take a look at some of your old habits. Without judging them as either good or bad, simply take a step back and see which ones are no longer serving you. Which ones are not working in your life? For example, do you stay up too late and then you can’t get up in the morning? If you’re like many people, this one rings true for you.
Are you late just about everywhere you go? If so, you’re not alone. Being late all the time is simply a habit though, and it’s one you can change over time. Rather than focus on not being late, focus on being on time. It sounds odd, but it’s a shift in perception that takes the focus off the negative and puts it on the positive.
When your mind attaches to a positive outcome, it can create success and momentum more easily and more comfortably. When your mind thinks something is a chore, it will fight you.
Creating new habits
Once you have identified an old habit as being one that no longer serves you, you can move ahead and create a new, more positive habit. Identify the old habit, clear it out and then move forward to the creation of a new habit.
In the example of being on time, set a goal to be on time and give it a specific and measurable amount of time. For example, write down on a to-do list you will be on time for three appointments this week.
Take it one step further, and make a declaration to someone you will be on time for three appointments this week. Keep going. Ask someone to hold you accountable for your new habit. When you have put it down on paper, it appears as something you will do and accomplish, as opposed to something you will do some day.
Once you declare it, now you are holding yourself to the task to be, and keep your word. Having someone check in with you is a great way to admit you are not keeping your word, or you are keeping your word and happily so.
The Reward System
In order for a new habit to stick, you could try on the reward system. Did you keep those three appointments on time? Well, if so, announce it to your accountability partner. You will feel good about yourself in this regard, and this will prompt you to repeat the behavior in another area of your life.
In addition, why not treat yourself to a reward in some small manner? You don’t have to do anything extravagant, but you can treat yourself to something nice, even if it’s your favorite chocolate bar or some alone time. When you reward yourself for a job well done, your brain quickly learns achieving goals gets rewards and missing appointments is not so much fun. Your brain will want to gravitate toward the fun stuff instead.
I was always late in years past, and it took a great effort for me to change that. I think I didn’t realize how much better I had become until a client said something to me about how punctual I always was for our appointments. Her words were, “I can set my watch by you.” That was so reinforcing for me, and I continue to make every effort to be on time for my appointments today.
Why are habits important?
Habits are important because they set the tone and pace for a successful or a messy life. When you have messy habits, you have a messy life. It really is that simple. Habits are important because they dictate your success.
If you consistently show up late as a habit, everyone will associate you with being unable to keep your word. This may trickle into other businesses thinking twice about connecting with you or looking elsewhere for their business needs. How will that impact your self-confidence and your bottom line?
Do you see how your habits create your life? If you don’t take charge of your habits, your habits will dictate the outcome of your life. This is why habits are so important.
How to Develop New Habits
When it comes to your exterior world, habits are vital. However, did you know habits are equally if not more so vital to your health and well-being? What do habits have to do with health and well-being? The answer is everything.
Your health and well-being are largely up to you and depend upon your choices and decisions. If you have habits that don’t promote and provide for a healthy lifestyle, you’ll have an unhealthy life. It really is that simple; unfortunately, most people don’t realize it and don’t take responsibility for their health until something happens and they have to pay attention to it. To be fair, our health care system is largely responsible for this. The message that you can eat or do whatever you wish until you get a symptom or get sick and then a doctor will prescribe medication to suppress that symptom is beyond unfortunate. In my opinion, it removes any sense of responsibility for self.
Why do you eat so poorly? Maybe you tell yourself you don’t have time to eat well. Not having time is an excuse. Making time is a decision about where you want to put your energy and your focus. It speaks to what is important to you. If you have to give up three minutes of sleep or disengage from a negative conversation in order to make a healthy bowl of oatmeal in the morning, you have the ability to make these choices. You can either make choices or make up excuses which don’t serve you or your healthy lifestyle.
Why don’t you go to the gym? You are too tired. There are too many things to get done. You just don’t feel like it. The excuses can range from truth to ridiculous. It’s not always easy, but it is doable. You can give up thirty minutes of television or thirty minutes on focusing what’s not working and get to the gym or exercise at home. You can talk endlessly about a problem or get yourself moving. It’s all a matter of making choices that serve your good health.
When you begin to see how you have the power to create new habits and end old ones which don’t work, you take back your power over unproductive habits. Begin declaring to other people what your intentions are surrounding new habits. You will begin to notice an immediate shift.
Once you begin to declare new habits you are creating, they begin to manifest in your life. For example, if you begin to declare you are creating a new habit of meditating, you will begin to get into conversations with others who are interested in meditation. By the way, notice I said “you are creating a new habit” rather than “you will create a new habit”. It is always more effective to live with desired changes in the present tense rather than in the future tense. Your brain is more accepting when you frame them this way.
No matter what your goal is, begin declaring it and watch how it now gains momentum and life.
Begin to measure your new habit in small increments. With the meditation example, begin by declaring to yourself you will meditate for 10 minutes three nights this week. Even better, write it down in a journal or notebook or even tell a friend.
When you break any change down into manageable chunks, it works much better. If you’re not perfect, don’t give up, just do a reset and begin again.
When setting a goal as a new habit, be specific about that goal. Start slowly, be deliberate and you will make steady progress!
Helping You Achieve Major Wellness!
Cheryl A Major, CNWC
Certified Nutrition & Wellness Consultant