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Why would you want to change your habits?
Maybe because studies say that 40% of what we do every day isn’t a choice or even a decision it’s a habit!
Yep. We’re spending most of our life on autopilot. But what if we’re guiding ourselves in the wrong direction.
And if we are on autopilot for a big part of the day then we want our habits, our routines to be good ones. Don’t we?
Changing habits isn’t really that hard. Keeping them changed is the challenge.
And that’s the difference between changing habits and transforming them.
One allows us to change for a while and then change right back without a second thought. Think New Year resolutions.
The other has a nice ring of permanency about it – because it is – more permanent.
We won’t fall back into old habits unless we deliberately set up another transformation to make that happen.
So what really works for transforming our habits and our lives? It isn’t awfully difficult. So let’s get to it with a few tricks to building habits that will not only stick, but transform.
1. One thing at a time
You’ve had a rotten day. You’re overwhelmed and tired and it feels like you need to change everything. Right? No. Wrong. It will not work.
Making transformative changes to habits is easier and more likely to last if you ditch one bad habit at a time.
You don’t need an entire makeover. Just give yourself four weeks or so to destabilize one habit that doesn’t lead to a better life.
And then move on to another one.
The positive impact and reward on your life for one small change at a time will be well worth it.
2. Switch up environmental triggers
I’m talking about making it easier to avoid habit triggers. Donkey’s years ago I was a smoker. The biggest trigger for me for wanting a cigarette was with a cup of coffee after a meal.
I stopped drinking coffee after dinner. Which cut back my habit and started the desire to quit altogether.
Make your environment more helpful in making what you don’t want to do harder…and what you do want to do easier.
Adding little reminder notes around the house can help. “Eat a bowl of fruit instead of that donut.”
Or better yet chuck the donuts out and don’t buy any more!
But what if you blow it? Never fear. I’ve got you covered.
3. Follow the ’In a minute’ rule
The way I gave up smoking altogether was to follow this.
This was just something I made up to make it easier on myself. Easy is always good when it comes to replacing habits.
When my desire to have a cigarette was beginning to overtake me, I told myself I could have one after I had completed….whatever task or project I wanted to get done. It gave me the time to get over the desire, even forget about it for a while.
Say you’d like to watch less television, or spend less time on social media, this rule would work for you like this:
I’ll watch that show, get on Facebook or twitter after I’ve done…whatever it might be for you.
Pretty simple right? Remember just do the minimum – one tiny thing at a time can change many things.
You’re just aiming for something small, consistently done. No shooting for the stars.
Still sound too challenging? And you want something to make it even easier, try this.
4. The optimal way
Create a plan. Follow the DIFO framework. Which stands for desire, imagine, feeling and outcome.
Pick the desire. Frame it positively. Instead of I want to…begin with I’m glad I have decided to. You’re more likely to succeed with this framing.
Begin by imagining you’ve replaced one habit you know you’d like to get change.
What’s it like to have replaced it with a habit that works really well for you? Play your mental movie.
Answer the question: “How do I feel now that my desire has been fulfilled?”
Feel exactly as you would feel if you had transformed certain areas of your life. Would it be relief? Happiness? Peace of mind?
Decide on the positive life transformation that could emerge from one little habit having been transformed. Enjoy your victory.
Better yet, what if I told you there was something that could change lots of habits for the price of one?
5. Chain reaction habits
What one habit could you change that would help you see yourself differently? Some habits have a domino effect. Get one habit right and lots of other good habits automatically follow.
One of the best motivators is when they help you become the person you’d like to be.
Think of it like this.
The actions you take are determined by what you believe about yourself. The part you play on the stage of your world follows the conception you have of yourself.
And the more you continue with your old habits, the more conditioned you become to believe that’s who you are.
So who do you want to be?
You can decide this by asking what’s important to you. What do you believe in? Who would you rather be if not who you currently are?. If you don’t have the answers look at the outer layer – outcomes, and work backwards….You can always change who you are if you can discover who you want to be and allow that identity to guide you.
But wait a minute. How do I keep this going if I slip up?
6. Expect to mess up if you want to change your habits and keep them changed
Slip-ups happen. Expect them.
Give yourself a cheat opportunity. So if you revert to an old habit, you’ll know it’s just a temporary set-back not a total failure. Transformation hasn’t occurred yet. It’s okay.
Factor into your habit changes that you’ll probably fall off the wagon on the way. Dust yourself off. Don’t allow a slip to become a total fall or fail.
Just because you ate one cookie/donut, gorged on social media for a day…whatever…don’t think to yourself that’s it I blew it – and then gorge even more.
It’s just a slip up not the end of the road. All we’re looking for is a little consistency.
We don’t need to be perfect. But it would be good to remember that our habits create the pattern from which our world is made and a change of habit is a change of pattern and sets up transformative life experiences.
To sum up how you can easily change your habits and transform your life
One thing at a time – make one small change. Want to exercise more? Set your timer and walk around your home for 3 minutes. It’s as simple as that.
Switch up your environment – help yourself by making your environment more conducive to habits that help, not hurt. Old habits are easier to resist when the habit environment or trigger is switched or removed altogether.
Follow the ’In a minute’ rule – my favorite rule that’s helped me set myself up for success. You could add an extra ‘treat’ by practicing ‘When I’ve done this, I can do….(something special that makes you feel good.)
The optimal way – Create a plan. Follow the DIFO framework. Which stands for desire, imagine, feeling and outcome.
Expect to mess up – factor in the expectation that you’re going to mess up. One slip doesn’t a lifetime make. It’s not a fail, just a slip.
Chain reaction habits – what you need is a foundational habit that leads you not down the garden path but down a path to that transformed life.
What say you? What one foundational habit would you change if you knew:
One it would easy, and two it would create a chain reaction and totally transform your life. I’d love to hear your perspective in the comments below.
Encourage one another.