habit, how to change a habit, changing habits, how to break a bad habit

Have you ever tried to change a habit just to find yourself slipping back into your old ways a few days or weeks later? I have a personally tried and tested shortcut to help you.

Engage your emotions

Take a look at how your negative habit is affecting your life. Consider all aspects – your health, your relationships, your creativity, your work and your free time. Don’t be afraid to exaggerate and get really angry about it.

Now imagine what life would be like if you didn’t have this habit. How would all areas of your life change because of it? What would be possible for you? Dream big and let the positive emotions flow. Engaging your emotions will activate a different part of the brain from the logical part that made the decision to change and you will experience less resistance.

A case study gone somewhat wrong

I wanted to have an example to give you, so I picked a habit of my own to test this shortcut on. Unfortunately, I didn’t give it enough thought. If I had, I’d have tackled my iPhone addiction instead. As it was, I decided to give up a flavoured tea drink that I loved. It was the first thing that came to mind, possibly because I had the drink in my hand at the time.

I got angry about it. It was costing me financially. I could sponsor a child or buy new shoes with the money I was spending on the drink. I was going out of my way to buy it almost daily, missing out on opportunities to spend time with my children or work on my creative projects. And it was a sugary drink, so it made me fat and it was bad for my health. I’d be so much fitter and healthier without it!

A few days later, when I’d long forgotten I was trying to change a habit, I was planning to relax with a book in the park while sipping my drink. I walked to the shop to buy it… and I realised that I didn’t feel like it. So what did I do? I ended up getting a coffee and a cookie instead, a far more expensive and less healthy choice than my tea drink! I urgently had to reconsider my decision to change and convince myself than having my drink 1-2 times a week is perfectly fine.

How to plan for success

While engaging your emotions proved to be a great shortcut, it turned out that there were other important things to consider when changing a habit:

  • Believe that you can change. Or at least act as if you believe. It will help you take your decision to change a habit more seriously and pick a habit you actually want to change.
  • Plan what to do instead. Your habit is a response to a need you have. How are you going to satisfy your need if you’re no longer going to engage in the habit you’re changing?
  • It doesn’t always have to be all or nothing. If you’re likely to replace your habit with something that’s even worse, then it may be a good idea to keep a small dose of it and let go of the excess only.

Image by artistlike via pixabay.com

By Tatiana Apostolova