Last week we really looked at the start of breaking a bad habit. Today, lets drive into the practical step by step imperfect progress you and I can make to shed those bad habits and gain the life we want.
- 1) Mental Gear Up. First thing to remember is that a habit takes 21 days to become established. So reverse that and commit to 21 days to break or change a habit. Mentally this makes “breaking a habit” a priority in your mind and 21 days seems like a doable goal. You can find a calendar page online to print off. Mark up those 21 days with your realistic goals. Not only to help you remember to keep breaking this habit priority for the 21 days but for you to visually see the progress that you can make and keep going. All of us can remember the serious, well meaning goals that we start but it’s that time after when the “new” has worn off that it can slip our memory. The snowballing effect is we skip one day here and than two then we are months down the road and we feel like a failure because we never did finish that goal that we started off with months ago.So if I admit to myself that I have a sugar addiction I would take my printed off calendar page (just one month) and write in for two week “no sugar in tea or coffee” SMALL STEPS TOWARD THE BIG END. The next two weeks I could write in “No cookies.” etc. I would post it on my fridge. I could keep a red marker beside it to cross off everyday that’s finished making daily contact with this calendar page so I don’t forget.
- 2) Change Your Routine. We are all creatures of habit. We can do the same things over and over and over. Excepting different results. Which sounds crazy, but if I think about it, I know I’ve done that. Think about your routine.What are some of the ROUTINE things that will lead up to your bad habit? For myself, I know certain times of the day I will make that cup of tea or coffee and sit down for my “mommy break” (i.e. 1p.m. Little kids nap time) Usually I could sneak a cookie in there too. So if my goal was to eat less sugar. Instead of sitting for a break with a cup of Joe I could grab a water instead. And if the munchies were coming on, for a cookie, I could change my routine, just by grabbing a pack of gum to chew on instead of a cookie, before I sit down. Because I know if I sit down with my cookies, all those cookie will get eaten, that’s my routine. If I was really having a hard time finding the self control not to put sugar in my tea or sit with a cookie at 1 p.m. I would prepare for that a little more extreme and BEFORE that time of regular routine day comes at me. In a moment of strength I would get rid of all the white sugar and cookies from my house.
- Remember: Bad Habit: “A patterned behavior regarded as detrimental to one’s physical or mental health, which is often linked to a lack of self-control.”
- Look around you and change ONE of the little details that are a part of your “Normal routine” that leads up to your bad habit. Take this extra thought and time to prepare to set yourself up for success. If one of your ideas doesn’t work DON’T get discourage but change it just a little again for tomorrow. Most of us can’t handle a HUGE change in our everyday lives, it’s to much to take on.
- But if we change a little (just a little) and keep working at that one change till we have it down then we can add on something else. Keep working at it baby steps at a time. Like putting money into your savings account.
- Every little bit adds up toward the BIG GOAL that your working toward.
- 3) Research Your Habit and Find Solutions. What is your bad habit? Remember step #1 is admitting you have one. Now Google it. Remember you are researching a solution NOT justifying a means to an end. For my sugar addiction I could read health journals online and research the “how” and “what” large quantities of sugar does to my body. To be honest I love “Prevention Magazine” I recently bought their “Sugar Detox Made Easy” addition, with article on article and step by step help of facing your sugar addiction. I love it. I’ve learned so much. Reading about what sugar is doing to my body is something I never knew. This is the stage where I am at in my sugar addiction. Researching. Educating Myself on the benefits of eating less sugar. Word of caution: don’t get stuck in the research stage. (I almost am) Because it is easier to read about how to fix things instead of actually doing it… I KNOW!!!! (including this blog, but arm yourself then GO DO THE WORK!) If you don’t enjoy reading perhaps you could find and online course or podcast or a community group or place of education. Arm yourself with ammo for your addiction. Just be cautious about WHO you are listening to or reading from. Make sure they are legit. (You could schedule an appointment with your doctor for medical education, he or she should be someone that you trust!)
- 4) Accountability Partner. This is a classic, but all the experts keep saying this one. Whatever habit you are breaking find someone to tell about. Caution: pick your person carefully, especially if accountability is a new thing for you. Pick someone who is a strong personality, and that will not listen to your excuses but someone who will encourage you. (maybe you need more than one person?!)Some ideas of what accountability look like; you can join a support group surround yourself with people that are going through what you are going through talk to one person who has been through your habit and successfully broke it.An accountability partner allows someone to speak into your life, but it also get you talking about your bad habit.The more you talk about it, the more motivated you can get, the more you will remember and try to change one thing at a time, the closer you are to successfully breaking your habit.
- 5) Spend Your Money on Something Else (HEHE… although….not all of it) Yes, our habits do cost us a little extra. That is a fact. I know the extra sugar treats that I buy to support my sugar habit will add up to some significant cash at years end. So why not take that money and spend it into something else? Invest it into a better habit for you! Is there something you want to learn to do? Or something you want to try? For me it was a writing course. I now invest my money into a website membership where (at my own pace) I learn the craft of writing. This is something I find very exciting for me. It takes some of my time and money to learn how to do this. Caution: don’t spend your money in both places ( I’ve failed here before too) but remind yourself why you can’t spend money on both your habit and your new idea.Prioritize. What is something that you can “exchange” today? What is something that you’ve wanted to learn or do but don’t have the time to because of your bad habit?
- 6) Go to Bed Earlier and Try Getting More Sleep. = you will have a stronger resolve to stick with your self (or help) appointed program if you are well rested. I know if I’m tired I will probably give in to the sirens call of sugar (especially around 3pm)This is a simple step, but DON’T over look it.
- 7) Eat Good For You Food. = again, another simple step but very important. When I feel healthy and strong I’m not as opposed to destroy that “health” by my bad sugar habit. This is one of the very simple yet effective ways that I can respect myself.
- 8) Seek Professional Help. Don’t be afraid. If this is the step that it need to take to break the bad habit you have going on in your life. Take it. It doesn’t matter what people think. No one needs to know that you are, seeing a counsellor, or seeking professional help elsewhere. If you want to keep that private, that if fine. If you need someone else (besides your counsellor) to talk too, use your accountability partner. A habit that is destroying you on the inside or your relationships with your loved ones around you may need professional help. Be brave and take the step.
- 9) Take One Step at a Time. Don’t build in such a strict regime that if you make a mistake you lose momentum. Do whatever you can to keep the momentum going. If I know that I know that I will binge eat that tray of cookies if I bring it home from a meeting, Which I will feel guilty about afterwards and then I will eat more cookies to make myself feel better. It would probably take a couple weeks to prioritize and intentionally try to stop the sugar habit again. Instead of leaving my meeting with all these leftover cookies (that will stop my motivation) I can give the cookies to someone else, or even (gasp) throw the rest in the garbage on my way out the door of my meeting. Keep the momentum going. What will cause you to stop trying to break your bad habit? Draw that strict boundary line around yourself to protect yourself from that stopping.
- 10) Pray About It. When self-control is flagging these are the moments I’m so thankful that I’m not alone in all of this. I serve God, who is bigger than all my bad habits combined. And if He made me and loves me even when I’m JUST me (bad habits and all) than He would care about me and this thing I’m doing (breaking my bad habit.) I pray for strength, patience, self-control, new perspectives, self awareness, self-respect, self- forgiveness etc. (you get the picture = everything) Remember: you are not alone, pray about it. Live your life intentionally!
By: Sharon Schuler