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Harnessing Your Habits for Good

May 31, 2016

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We all beat ourselves up over our habits.

Habits we want to change but find extremely difficult to make it happen.

How can we harness our habits?

First of all we need to be realistic.  Many of us try to change multiple things at the same time.  Unfortunately, trying to reach all of your goals at the same time is a way to reach none of them. A modest person is realistic.  He or she recognizes that there are limits to their time, energy and resources.   The goal is to make improvement gradually.

How to get started:

Start by making two lists

  • Be realistic – a list of good habits that you want to build on and a list of bad habits that you need to get rid of.  Make them as long as you like as you like
  • Prioritize the items on your list numbering them in order of importance to you
  • Choose a few habits even  one or two from each list and focus on those then move onto the next one or two you would like to focus on.  Speed up the process by replacing a bad habit with a good one.  An example could be calling a friend or relative first when you get home in (good habit) instead of watching too much TV (bad habit)
  • Manage your environment…we need to make it harder to do the wrong thing and easier to do the right thing.   For instance, if we want to eat less junk food we need to stop buying it and having it available.  When temptation strikes giving in will require more effort than not giving in make it easier.  If you plan to exercise in the morning set your exercise clothing next to your bed the night before…. the easier it is to get started the more likely you will follow through.
  • Choose friends wisely.  We want to have friends that reinforce good habits not ones who encourage habits that we are trying to break.
  • Take a long range view

Some say that it takes 21 days to cement a new habit.

In reality though, it can be much shorter or longer depending on the individual.   We don’t need to be discouraged though.   We need to cultivate a long range view.   What counts is not how many times we fall but how many times we get up again.

Never conclude that a relapse is a permanent failure.

Expect to face some setbacks as you work towards your goal.

Focus on the times when things went right.

Reinforce your successes rather than dwell on your setbacks.

And finally, never give up!

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