5 Tips To Change and Improve Your Habits
5 Tips To Change and Improve Your Habits
Habits are created over long periods of time and developed from training, influences, observation, and practice. Both good and bad habits are developed throughout our lives and we usually don’t know it until their nasty head appears in a work situation or, more commonly, in a relationship. Good habits we can keep but those bad habit need to change. Getting rid of bad habits is not easy (especially if there is an addiction involved), but changing them is possible.
These are some steps I’ve used with clients that I believe will be helpful to you as well. If you have more, please feel free to add to the list.
Step #1 Be Stronger Than Your Excuses
When I joined the military, I had all kinds of excuses as to why I wasn’t a fast runner…so one day in training I used the excuse, “I’m too old for this” and I sincerely believed the Chief in charge would show me some grace. Wrong! We have to be stronger than our excuses.
We have to be careful that we don’t wander through life making excuses about complicated situations or our own inabilities. Excuses give us a reason not to change and in return limit our personal growth. Phrases like, “This is just the way I am” do not serve you in complex business situations or in your key relationships.
We have to learn to be honest with ourselves by identifying our own limitation and by telling ourselves the truth. You’ve heard the saying, “The truth will set you free.” Once you tell yourself the truth about poor habits and own it then it’s time to learn a new behavior and create a more positive habit.
Step #2 Commit To Creating A New Habit
A few tweaks to bad habits can change everything. Let me use an example that many people can relate to, since we all eat food. Many people try new diets and they last for a couple months then the diet comes to an end and they are back to their old eating habits and frustrated with themselves. Rather than making a drastic dietary change all at once, commit to drinking more water in a day. Water fills a person up and increases a person’s energy level. Water is lifesaving. Good for the skin. Good for your vitality and it’s measurable. It’s an easy change that will increase your energy and is healthy for you, and it often reduces any cravings you might have for sweets. A good measure is to drink half your weight in ounces. Let me add, when I started doing this, I had to build up to it and it took about one week to get to half my weight.
Whatever habit you are wanting to change. Find a way to create a new habit and commit to making it happen.
Step #3 What Is Tracked Can Be Measured
Do you have a habit tracker? If not, I’ll email you one, but here is how it works. On the left column write out three to four habits you’d like to change…i.e. clean the car, clean the office, go to the gym three times a week, spend time mediating or in devotions each morning (Yes, these are my four). On the top of the page is a number that represents each day of the month. When I do something on my habits list I check the box that corresponds with the day I did it and the habit I was working on. Each week I reflect on my habits and how I did. Over time you can see how your habits will change. So, here’s a rule of thumb. It takes about six weeks to change minor habit – cleaning a car or an office space. But for more difficult habits it may take three to six months to make positive change. Create a habit tracker – what gets tracked can be measured and what is measured will help you make positive habit changes.
Step #4 Create A Team
We really do need each other. Life is so busy and with social media our connections with others has diminished. Changing habits is not easy unless there are other people in our lives that will give us support and encouragement. Who’s on your team? Find 2-3 people that you trust and can honestly share with (No judgements) your bad habits so you can get their feedback (not criticism) on how you can improve. You might gleam some new insights, but if not, let them know what the bad habits are, why you believe you need to change these habits, and how they can be a support to you. The funny thing is…you’ll probably find out that those on your team are struggling with similar challenges and it opens up new conversations that will bless your socks off.
Step #5 Replacing Negative Thoughts With Positive Thoughts
Did you read the article put out by the World Health Organization this past week? The U.S. rated number 3 as one of the most depressed countries in the world; after China and India. Get that…we are the wealthiest, most luxurious countries in the world and we are rated #3 in depression, anxiety, personality disorders and the list goes on. What this tells me is, we have been hurt by others, by ourselves, by cultural norms, and people are suffering. We allow others to label us a certain way, or we believe a story about ourselves based on our experiences that isn’t true but in our hearts and minds we believe something that is negative and hurtful about ourselves. Replacing years of hurt is not easy but it is doable. Replacing the negative self-talk needs to be reframed with more positive thoughts and those thought have to be meditated on – “I am loveable.” “I’m a daughter of the King.” “I am worthy.” Also, it’s a reminder that we have to have #4 above in place and be surrounded by encouraging people.
When you begin to make changes in your habits start small. Take baby steps first so you don’t get frustrated and stop. Start small and watch your progress and see the results.
What are some ways you have been able to change some of your habits?
What are some positive sayings and/or Scriptures you have used to reframe your thinking?