This article from my inbox is by Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series. Everyone struggles with some bad habit or the other. So here’s some help. 🙂
If you want to distance yourself from the masses and enjoy a rich and unique lifestyle, understand this – your habits will determine your future.
The fact is, if you keep on doing things a certain way, you will get a predictable result. That’s the simple law of Cause and Effect. Successful habits create positive rewards. Negative habits breed negative consequences.
If you want to enjoy longevity, you must have healthy habits. If you are in the habit of starving your most important relationships of time, energy and love, how can you expect a happy outcome? If you spend money on the fly or don’t save any money, your bad habits will lead you to a never-ending cycle of work.
Shift yourself out of your bad habits
Fortunately, you can jump from this bad habits path anytime you want. It’s a very simple process – it just takes some applied focus. Here’s the step-by-step process I recommend:
- Clearly identify your bad or unproductive habits. Write them down.
- Be specific.
- Remember to consider the long-term consequences should you continue in this bad habit. As an example, a couple cigarettes a day may not seem like much, but after 10 years, the buildup of having smoked 7,300 cigarettes remains in your system.
- Consider habits at home, in your communications and relations with others, at work, in your driving habits, in your free time, and in matters related to your physical, emotional and spiritual health.
- Be totally honest.
Define your new successful habit and visualize its results in your life.
Your new habit is usually the simple opposite of your bad habit. To motivate yourself, think about all the benefits and rewards for adopting your new successful habit. The more vividly you describe the benefits and create the picture in your mind, the more likely you are to take action.
- Create a three-part action plan.
For every bad habit, there are at least 15 action steps you can take to help you stop. Put some time into this and think about it – it’s easy to come up with action steps, but they have to be YOUR action steps that you know are within your realm of taking. As an example, if you want to stop smoking, hypnosis therapy may be more preferable than a nicotine patch. Don’t list action steps that you know in your heart you won’t do.
- For the next three weeks, schedule these action steps into your day.
If you know you want to start exercising three times a week, schedule it now in your appointment book. If you want to start reading uplifting books, schedule an hour in your daily schedule and make plans now as to where you will read without interruption. Whatever the new habit, work it into your schedule for the month ahead as most habits – even the very ugliest ones – can be completely re-patterned in this short timeframe.
- Then, take action!
Start with one habit that you really want to change. Focus on your three immediate steps and put them into action. Do it now. Remember, nothing will change until YOU do.