If you’ve tried changing any of your habits that make you less productive, healthy or happy, you know that the task can be difficult. A habit is a shortcut that the mind uses to simplify a task. Straying from that routine requires a conscious effort on your behalf when doing things the old way would be a lot simpler.
Change, however, doesn’t have to be radical. A few simple steps can be followed to begin the journey towards a better you without experiencing massive stress along the way.
Pinpoint What You’d Like to Change
To make the task easier, you need to have a clear idea about exactly what you’d like to change.
Recognize the things holding you back. Do you oversleep and often find yourself running late? If so, your day is filled with stress just because you can’t optimize your morning routine. After all, sleeping in is a lot easier than pushing yourself to get up at exactly the same time every morning.
Once you know what it is that you’d like to change, you will also know exactly what you need to do in order to eradicate the bad habit.
Here’s a simple example – you’re easily distracted and you spend a lot of time on your Facebook when you should be studying or working. What you’d like to change is the amount of time you dedicate to distractive activities.
Now that you have a goal, how can you make it happen? Getting rid of the distractions is the simplest way to start. If you can’t accomplish the goal on your own, you can enlist tools for the purpose. A solution like FocusMe can help you control your environment so that you’re not tempted to stray from the path. Using this solution will make it easier for you to stick to a new routine and to eventually form more productive habits.
Reward Yourself Along the Way
You need a stimulus to keep going, even when you’re facing difficulties with following your new routine. Rewarding yourself for accomplishments will give you something to look forward to, even if the new journey is making you feel uncomfortable.
You don’t have to wait for someone to pat you on your back when you could be your own biggest supporter.
Let’s say you’d like to start exercising more regularly. Sticking to a workout schedule at first isn’t going to be too pleasant. You’ll have to dedicate time to it, you’ll feel tired and sore until your physical shape improves. Give yourself a delicious meal after you exercise or when you accomplish a specific fitness goal. If the schedule is too rigorous, chances are that you wouldn’t stick to it in the long run.
Know What You’ll Replace a Bad Habit with
A good plan from the start will make success more likely.
How will you replace a bad habit? The action plan should be viable, practical and easy to follow. The more detail you have right from the start, the freer you’ll be from having to ponder during the process.
Let’s go for the example above – you want to start working out more. The problem is that you don’t have the time, you hate going to the gym and you even feel a bit anxious about joining a class due to the response you’ll get from others.
Now that you know what you don’t want to do, find an alternative. You don’t have to go to the gym or to a class in order to exercise. There are dozens of exercise routines you can do at home and without having to buy equipment. Biking, walking and swimming are also wonderful activities that will get your body pumping. Just choose the one that you’ll enjoy the most. If you don’t know which one it’s going to be, give a few activities a try to see how you’re going to feel about each.
Get Rid of the Triggers
Bad habits start with a trigger. If you get rid of the trigger, you will make it easier to introduce change.
You want to start eating healthier meals? Get rid of the chips, the chocolate bars and the biscuits in your pantry. Having to go to the store in order to buy what you crave will help you stick to the fruits, nuts and yogurt you have in your fridge.
This doesn’t mean you should never ever have a chocolate bar again in your life. Just remove the triggers until you feel comfortable enough in your new habit.
Baby Steps Will Give You Bigger Progress
It’s ok to step back during the process if you feel overwhelmed. Psychologists recommend baby steps as the best way towards steady and sustainable progress.
Make a small change today. Know that it’s enough, even if you haven’t achieved the big milestone you were hoping for. You made progress and tomorrow, you will accomplish something even bigger on the journey to personal change and growth.
If you have to go back, slow down or pause the process – do it. Setting big milestones and failing miserably at them will discourage you much more than having a big goal in mind and failing miserably.
Some people quit smoking cold turkey. This doesn’t mean you’re going to be capable of quitting completely from scratch or refraining to utilize aides like nicotine patches. Even if you reduce the number of cigarettes that you smoke, you are still registering progress. This progress matters because it’s getting you closer to changing a bad habit or getting rid of it altogether.
What matters is that you keep on going. Even if you relapse, even if you’re on a hiatus, the goal should still be there in your mind. Once you feel more capable of change, you will accomplish exactly what you desire.
It’s never too late to break bad habits or start from scratch. Life gives us many opportunities that we should be making use of. Know when the time is right and draft your action plan. These are the two most challenging steps and accomplishing them means you’ve been capable of making huge progress.