What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
What is your first immediate reaction when someone cuts you off in traffic?
What is your most common meal?
What time do you usually go to sleep and wake up?
What is your most common negative thought? Positive thought?
Take a minute to answer these questions for yourself. You might find a pattern when you do. These are all questions of habit. How much time have you taken to think about your habits and how they affect your life? For most people, the answer is: not much. I find this really interesting because habits have such an impact on how we live our daily lives. And how we live each day is, of course, how we live our lives.
We have so many habits that we carry around with us every day and everywhere we go. Not only are they engrained in what we do, but also how we think, what we think, how we feel, and how we react to things. It is said that about 90% of our thoughts are reoccurring thoughts, meaning that we don’t usually come up with many new thought patterns throughout the day without effort. This means that about 90% of our thoughts are reoccurring day after day after day. Have you ever paid attention to what thoughts go through your head each day? I’d have to say that they are pretty similar day in and day out. Unless you really intentionally change something in your life, or have a huge change/epiphany, you are going to have the exact same thoughts as yesterday and last week and last month and even last year. This is because habits are shortcuts for the brain to use to make its job easier and more efficient. By nature we are habitual beings. I challenge you to really think about what you think about. Because thoughts lead to basically everything else. In fact, Gandhi once said:
Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words.Keep your words positive, because your words become your behavior.Keep your behavior positive, because your behavior become your habits.Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values.Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny.
Habits are not a bad thing. In fact habits are amazing as long as they are good habits, or habits made out of intention for a better life. They are good if you are using them to your advantage instead of against you. The beauty of habits is that once they are established, they are easy to maintain so they are a perfect tool to get you living your best life.
While intentional habits are really good, you may have developed some unintentional, and really bad habits along your path. Maybe you aren’t eating the way you want to, but you love junk food. Maybe you always go to sleep late and oversleep in the morning. Maybe you continuously tell yourself negative thoughts throughout the day. Maybe you are having relationship problems and you have both gotten used to fighting everyday without fixing anything… for years. Whatever the problem is, don’t worry- I have good news for you! These are all just bad habits, so all you need to do is turn these bad habits into good habits.
It is simple to change a habit, but it is not necessarily always easy. Your body and mind must be retrained to a new pattern. But how? It actually takes just five steps. Going through these steps will be easier or harder depending on you as an individual, and how engrained the habit is within you.
- First, you must be aware of your habit. You wouldn’t fix something if you didn’t know that it was broken. Likewise, you can’t fix a bad habit if you don’t know that you have this habit.
- Then you must identify it as a bad habit that needs to be changed. Some people who have bad habits never get this far because they might know it is a habit, but they don’t see it as bad for themselves, even though it might be affecting them or others around them in a negative way.
- Once you realize your bad habit, you can go about changing it. This is the part that takes time and self control. You have to make a solid decision to not do whatever the bad habit is anymore. Then make a plan as to how you are going to stop. It doesn’t have to be a huge written out plan, it could just be in your head. All that matters is that you commit to ending the bad habit, and that you have a way (or multiple ways) to take action and end it. If you can’t think of a way to stop your bad habit, do some research on the subject and look for possible ways to fix it. The more you know about your bad habit, the better chance you have of changing it for good.
- Fourth, you must replace that bad habit with a good habit instead. If you don’t replace your bad habit with a good habit, then you could easily relapse into your bad habit. Why? Because stopping your bad habit creates a void of time. If you don’t fill it with something, then you will just think of doing that bad habit again, instead of doing whatever good habit you should have put there for replacement.
- Once you have gone through the first four steps, all you have to do is be consistently aware of your habits and make sure that you don’t fall back into the same old bad habit from before. You have come too far to go back now, and it will become easier and easier to maintain your new habit until you don’t have to think about it at all. You do it automatically!
About 6 years ago I used to eat pretty unhealthily. It started to give me problems because I didn’t have enough energy for the intense workouts I was doing at the time. I decided that it was time for me to fix this not only just for that period of time, but simply for the health and wellbeing of my entire life. I acknowledged that I had a bad habit and made a decision to change it. I decided that for me personally, I wouldn’t be able to just immediately be 100% cut off from bad eating because I knew that I would go back to my bad habits pretty quickly. So instead I decided to slowly ease myself into healthier eating habits. I started with a 2 sweets per week rule, and I stuck to it religiously. I kept track of the unhealthy food I ate per week, and I declined a lot of offers to eat unhealthy food. Within about a month, I wasn’t even eating two sweets a week because I simply didn’t want to, and I didn’t need to keep track any more. I did occasionally get big cravings still, but anytime this happened I would always grab something healthy and eat that instead. It worked. Within two months, not only did I have a new habit of healthy eating, but I also felt a million times better because I was taking care of my body, and I had so much more energy. I still have this healthy habit today, about 6 years later.
It takes time, patience, perseverance, and self control, but you can do it! If you want to create habits that will serve you for the rest of your life, then start now. Identify one bad habit you have and how you would like that habit to change. If you can’t think of a bad habit, then you can try thinking about other areas of your life where you would like to make a good habit. What aspect of your life would you like to make better, simpler, or easier? You can create a new habit to do just that.
- Be aware of your habit.
- Identify it as a bad habit that needs to be changed.
- Make a solid decision to stop doing whatever the bad habit is. Make a plan as to how you will cut out your bad habit.
- Replace that bad habit with a good habit instead. Do this good habit every time you feel the urge to do the bad habit.
- Stick with it! You will kick your bad habit in no time! 🙂
If you want to live your best life, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to stop living out of blind and unintentional habits, and start living out of good and intentional habits. Stop being on autopilot. Wake up! This is your life and nothing about it is going to change if you don’t change (see: You Are the Key). Tired after a long day? Don’t have time to fix it? Everyone else is tired after a long day too. But there are people out there who make excuses, and then there are people who make it happen. If you don’t have time to fix your life to be the way that you want, then you really need to stop and think about the way you are living because you are the one who needs this lesson the most. The reason that you are not living your dream life right now has a lot to do with the fact that you have habits that do not coincide with your dream life. So to live your best life, you just have to change those habits. Once you change, your life will also change; and it will inspire you to continue on your path toward your best self, your best life, and your biggest dreams.
To living your best life,