Habits: Out With the Old and In With the New

change habits Oct 13, 2018

Do you find it hard to take a long drive without buying a Hershey’s bar? Can’t get through an evening without pouring a glass of wine? Does your habit of negative self-talk sabotage new friendships, new exercise routines?

Habits hold an awesome sway over our lives, for good and for bad. We are, as the old saying goes, creatures of habit. But it is not impossible to change. We can get rid of bad habits and create new, healthier ones.

Here are a few tips from the series and from other experts: 

  • Give some thought to why you behave as you do.Our habits are based on experiences we’ve had from childhood on into adulthood. Understanding the filters through which we experience life provides insight that’s helpful when we’re trying to change.

  • Set a big goal but use small steps. Your overarching goal for changing a specific behavior will be a powerful motivator. But you’ll never reach it if you don’t break it down into concrete, small steps that you take each day or each week.

  • Change one habit at a time. It rarely works to reform all aspects of your behavior at once. Do you want to eat healthier, be happier, spend more time with friends? Choose one of those this month. The other goals can wait.

  • Connect the dots. Use an if-then approach. If your alarm goes off, you rise and lace up your running shoes. If a colleague at work asks for help, you pause and consider your response before speaking. If you walk into a cluttered bedroom, you choose one thing to pick up and put away.

  • Be SMART. Sociologist Christine Whelan contends that for any resolution to stick, it needs to be Specific, Measurable, attached to a Reward and Trackable. Whelan suggests it takes 90 days, not 30 days as conventional wisdom holds, to really make a change.

Interested in learning more about habits? Psychology Today has a library full of articles. And this fun listicle has no fewer than 203 ideas for good habits to make part of your daily life.

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