You have aspirations, right? You have goals you want to achieve. Like so many of us, you most likely have a few daily habits that are getting in your way. Hitting that snooze button too many times? Afternoon trips to the vending machine? Hours wasted away browsing social media?
These relatively small habits can actually have a big impact. They can leave us feeling defeated and drain our confidence. They eat up time in our day keeping us from meeting a deadline. They lower the quality of the work that we do complete. A change in even one bad habit can be the difference between failure and achievement.
So how do we make a change? It's not going to be easy. It's going to take effort, but here are four steps that can help you change your bad habits.
Step 1 - Write Them Down
Be specific. Don't write down "procrastinate too much". Write down the specific actions you do when you are procrastinating. For many of us this is surfing the web, but don't stop there. Which websites? Which mobile apps? Be as specific as you can.
Step 2 - Identify the Trigger
Take each of the habits you wrote down in step one. Now write down the triggers for each of those actions. Again, be as specific as possible. Do you grab your phone and open Facebook when you wake up in the morning? In this case, waking up is your trigger. Your habit of browsing Facebook in the morning is triggered by waking up. Connect each action to its trigger.
Determining the trigger is as important as identifying the specific behaviors. You may write down that you spend too much time watching mindless TV. Don't stop there. Now write down the specific time of day or situations where you typically watch TV. Identify those triggers. This will be critical for the next step.
Step 3 - Swap in a New Routine
Therefore, focus on changing only the habit of buying a vending machine cookie. Bring some healthy snacks from home and swap out what you eat. Or, change up your afternoon break location and go for a walk.
Step 4 - Shift the Effort
- Increase the effort required for the habit you want to break. For example, if your habit is social media in the morning, move your phone out of your bedroom. Use it as your alarm? Buy an alarm clock or keep the phone in your bedroom but out of reach of your bed. Make it harder to follow this old routine.
- Make your new routine as easy as possible. If you are working to break an afternoon snacking habit, bring new healthy snacks from home and keep them at your desk. Any action you can take beforehand that removes a step or decision from your new habit will have a big impact on your chances of being successful.