Breaking Bad Habits

By Lindy Earl

Life is a collection of days.  Our days are a collection of minutes.  In those minutes, we pick up habits, both good and bad.  Brushing your teeth after every meal is a good habit.  Waiting until the sink is too full of dirty dishes to add water is a bad habit.  We understand this, yet it’s hard to change our bad habits.  Here are some ideas to get you moving in the right direction.

  1.  Try to discern why the habit exists.  If you find yourself overweight and can’t establish a habit of healthy food and exercise, ask yourself why. Are you a stress eater? Do you think you’re too poor or busy to live differently?  Are you just uninterested in a healthier life style?  Are you lazy?  If you can understand the reason for a behavior, or a lack of behavior, it will be easier to change your pattern.
  2.  Find a mentor.  If Time Management is your issue, find someone you know who uses their time well and request their help.  If they are like me they will put you on a schedule and expect homework – that’s what I do with people I mentor.  The mentoring relationship should be short term, the length depending on the individual situation.  Learn from others!
  3.  Similarly, find an accountability partner.  If you want to drop a bad habit, or if you want to begin a good habit, find someone with a similar wish, and set up accountability calls, including emergency calls.  So every day you will call one another at 4:00 to be sure the other person didn’t . . . smoke, cuss, whatever, or did . . . eat well, exercise, worked on projects.  During the day there may be some calls before or after this call, when urges strike.
  4. Think of the consequences.  As you decide what habits to change, think of the consequences if you don’t replace bad habits with good.  It could be financial, physical, or emotional pain.  You don’t want to die young and you don’t want to do that to your family.  You want to get out of debt, and today is the best day to start.  Write it down if it will help you, but consider the long term results of good and bad habits to motivate you to better decisions.
  5.  Reward yourself.  Yes, we all know this one, but it helps.  As you develop better habits you can treat yourself to a movie, or an afternoon of reading, or whatever will encourage you and your new habits.  If your bad habit was spending money, you cannot reward yourself by shopping.  Be sensible here.

It’s hard to break bad habits (and easy to break good ones) but it can be done.  Choose as least one of these suggestions and you’ll find half begun is well done (with thanks to Mary Poppins).

Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant and currently accepting new clients and speaking engagements.

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