15 Ways to Successfully Change a Habit

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
– Aristotle

  1. According to self-development experts and in my own experience, it takes about 30 days to change a habit.  30 days are less daunting because you know you can just quit and go back to old habits after that time is up.
    1. Within this time, you will give your brain circuits a chance to form new neuro-connections and neuro-pathways (i.e. you will form a new habit).
    2. You will start breaking the addiction to your old habit, which will give you confidence and allow the new habit to sink in.
    3. After the 30 days are up, you’ll have a feeling of accomplishment and success, increasing the likelihood that you’ll continue the new habit.
    4. Best of all, you’ll have 30 days of great results from your new habit!
    5. If you still have doubt after 30 days and want to switch back to the old habit, you have the option of extending the trail another 30 days.  Nothing permanent to scare the mind.  And the longer you go, the easier it will be to maintain the habit.
  2. Work on one habit at a time.  No need to overwhelm yourself, and once you have one habit change it will be much easier to change another one.
  3. Write down your commitment.  Writing it down makes it more official and reinforces your desire to do it.
  4. Find support, especially for a big change.  Whether it’s someone in your family, a significant other, your church group or an online friend, tell them about your commitment to make this change and ask for help when you start to falter. Put a promise to contact them into your written commitment.  Try a support group online or in your neighborhood if you don’t want to commit to someone you know closely.
  5. Identify your triggers.  What triggers your habit of having a cigarette, grabbing some chocolate, having a beer, or getting angry at the traffic?  Is it waking up in the morning, a stressful meeting, having to face another long drive home?
  6. Replace your triggers.  Now place a goal to replace each trigger with something positive.  Instead of chocolate, have some nuts or fruit at hand.  Instead of having a beer or getting angry, try some calming breathing for a few minutes, or if you have more time, meditate or do some stretching, take a walk or talk with a friend.  Try any of these 17 Ways to Instill Calmness in Your Day and you’ll be a step ahead to replacing your triggers.
  7. Stay positive.  Whenever you have that little voice in your head talking back saying: “This is too hard.  Do I really need to do this? Why am I putting myself through this? I’ll just have one…” – become aware of it and squash it flat! See how easily you can squash negative thinking!
  8. Use visualization.  Take a few minutes each day, or every time you have a trigger, and close your eyes to vividly imagine changing your habit.  Imagine what it will feel like once you are rid of the habit and visualize the new habit in detail.  Visualization is very powerful and I like to use it just as a form of meditation.
  9. Reward yourself. After every milestone you reach, or after a particularly strong trigger you overcome, reward yourself with something you like.  (preferably not another bad habit 🙂
  10. No exceptions.  Don’t say “just one more” or “just this one time”.  Be very strict with yourself.  Every cell in your body has memory, so you are just making it much harder for your body and your mind to break this habit.  Remember – if you go with Tip #1, it’s just 30 days!
  11. Make it public. Tell all your friends, family, co-workers – post it online in forums on your blog or facebook.  The more you make it public, the more likely you are to stick with it, because then we feel more accountable and don’t want to fail.
  12. Get your sleep.  You may feel tired or drained when trying to break a habit.  Make sure to get as much rest as you need.  If you can’t sleep at night, here are 18 Easy Tips to Beat Insomnia and Super Foods for a Good Night’s Sleep.
  13. Hydrate. Drink plenty of water.  This seems simple, but is often overlooked. Plus, if you are trying to break a food addiction, this will let you keep putting something in your mouth and fill up your stomach fast.
  14. Avoid places, situations or people that trigger the old habit.  At least for the time being (e.g. 30 days!), don’t place yourself in situations where you would normally do your old habit.
  15. If you backslide into the old habit, analyze what went wrong, what triggered the relapse, plan for that situation and try it again! Failures are not something to be upset about, they are learning steps and help you become a stronger person.  So don’t feel bad or give up, just go for it again!
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Axinja

I created this site because I believe in the individual - in you, to have the power to change your health. Your holistic health. It's usually easiest to start with the body. But without developing the mind and spirit, one's perspective and outlook on life and oneself, the body will keep on breaking. All three are linked. Love your body and being, they really deserves it. I have a passion for researching the latest in mind/body medicine, and have done so for years. I quit a full time job at a large corporation to devote myself to this. I update this blog regularly, so keep checking back. Do send me a note (namaste8@gmail.com), I will be happy to receive your comments.

2 Replies to “15 Ways to Successfully Change a Habit

  1. These are wonderful suggestions! I think my main problem is the thinking positively. I’ve been working on this in therapy. I tend to be very, very self-critical and that becomes a stumbling block in so much I am trying to accomplish. Working on my awareness of this inner dialogue, however, is helping. I was recently on this website http://29daysto.com/ where they offer a free e-book by Richard Fast called “29 DAYS… to a habit you want!” It goes into how we have acquired the thoughts and habits we have (since everything begins with what we are thinking anyway). There are also various courses/books available for a person to zero in on changing a particular habit. And you can never go wrong with a free e-book!!! =)

    1. Thanks for your nice comments……and yes, that pesky inner dialogue is something to always be aware of. It’s crazy how many thought are repetitive!

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