Other studies have shown that if you want to be more success at everything, developing good habits is one of the best ways to do that. As a example, humans who have career momentum are 53% more likely to have good habits. I wanted to know more so I did some research and found a few ways to help change those bad habits into good ones.
1. Change a bad habit. (That's singular - as in one) Focus on fixing one thing at a time. Trying to change too much all at once can seem overwhelming and can cause our good intentions to fall as a souffle. The thing to remember is that all your bad habits were accumulated over a lifetime. So it's going to take a little time to undo them all. It's like learning to walk...take one step at a time. Give each bad habit a month or so to change, then move on to the next one.
2. Don't stop. Just count. Whatever it is that you shouldn't be doing (smoking, eating too many cookies, spending too much time texting friends, etc) you don't have to stop just yet. That sounds doable, right? Experts say that we shouldn't try to reduce the habit; we should try to reduce the variability of the habit. This is how that works; If you generally check your Facebook page 90 times a day, tell yourself you're only going to check it 90 times today. Or, if you're a smoker, don't tell yourself you're quitting...tell yourself you're going to smoke the same number of cigarettes today as you generally do. This teeny-tiny effort towards self-control can actually lead to a decrease in bad behaviors over time, unconsciously. Your brain won't feel as restricted, or as rebellious. The more you tell yourself no, the more you want to do it. So, by giving it some "freedom of choice" you'll find that you'll naturally begin to cut down on cigarettes, the number of cookies you eat, or the quantity of Facebook checks you do each day. You don't have to deny yourself. Just notice the numbers and continue to behave badly. Funny how that works....
3. Don't change you. Change your world. Okay, so let's say you're addicted to a certain social media app. Try this and see if it doesn't help. Delete the app off your phone every day, and then reinstall it again later that same day. This will sure cut back on the number of times you check Twitter or Instagram account! If the app is on your phone, it's just begging you to open it up. If it's not there, the temptation becomes greatly decreased. Downloading these apps can be painful and can take a little time. And that's no fun. Eventually, you'll get in the new habit of not having the app there, which means you won't keep checking it. As soon as you begin to forget about the app, it's probably safe to put the app back on and leave it there. If you go begin to slide into your old habit again. Delete it and start over. Get the tempting stuff away from you! Just don't expect miracles overnight. Change can take a while.
4. Chill out! Most of us engage in our bad habits when we become stressed. I eat cookies when I get stressed out. UCLA neuroscientist, Alex Korb, says that staying relaxed helps the mind to make better choices. Don't put so much pressure on yourself and you'll start behaving better. When you feel the need to engage in your bad habit, and it's being induced by stress, take a break. Go do something else. Walking away from the issue, even briefly, can get your mind off your bad habit and onto something more positive.
5. Don't eliminate bad habits. Replace them! Saying, "I'm not going to do that again" makes you even more likely to do it again. So, instead of shoving that mini donut into your mouth, replace it with a piece of sugarless gum. The trigger stays the same, but instead of engaging in a bad behavior, you replace it with a harmless one. Habits cannot be eradicated...they can only be replaced. Notice what triggers your bad behavior, then replace it with something good!
6. "If" and "Then." Plans are good. And a simple one can help you resist your temptation. For instance, when you sit in front of the television maybe you habitually eat potato chips....lots of potato chips. Give yourself a new game plan and change it to something more positive and healthier; "IF" I sit in front of the television, "THEN" I will will eat a handful of grapes. It's called if-then planning and, believe it or not, it can be a powerful way to help you achieve your goal. You might even cut down on the amount of time you spend watching the TV (or whatever your trigger is). Two small words than can mean BIG changes. And, finally,
7. Forgive yourself. This can be a biggie for lots of us. We all screw up. And that's okay. Learning to forgive ourselves is so important. Take me, for example. I'm trying to cut back on the whole cookie-eating thing. But what happens if I eat one? Does that mean that all the good I've accomplished, up to that point, is erased? NO! it only means I messed up that one time. I pick myself up, dust myself off, and continue trying to cut back on the cookies. By shaming our guilting ourselves, we only pack on more stress and that can mean engaging in even more of our bad behavior. Forgive yourself. Forget about it. And move on.
Just remember, bad habits don't mean your a bad person...or a bad frog. Those nasty little habits that get in our way and prevent us from achieving our goals can be replaced. It can take a little time, practice, some patience, and a whole lot of self love. But it can be done. We can become the human, or frog, we want to be... free of those old bad habits that hurt us and hold us back. All we need to do is try. I'm already feeling better and more hopeful! And that bag of cookies that's usually screaming my name about now? I can barely hear it.