How Do I Create Good Personal Habits?

How the break your personal habits.

Look at your behavior and find examples.

When you look at your behavior it is important to write down concrete examples and times, you are going to be very surprised. I used to smoke and I wrote down the time at the end of the day every time I went to smoke. The first thing in the morning I would go outside and smoke, then when I got to work I would get a cup of coffee and make the rounds at the office then go outside, then before lunch after I have had an email or meeting and a bit stressed out. Most of this is just out of habit, but I know when I would go out for a smoke before lunch it was because I was triggered by stress. You have to find concrete examples of your habits.

Identify the cause.

Going home and looking at the TV may be a trigger to turn it on. Maybe turning on the BBQ makes you want to open a beer. When you are out with friends at a crowded bar you end up drinking because you do not like crowds. Identify what triggers you to go into habit mode, sometimes this can be difficult to see. It is possible you can ask someone close to you about your habits, close friends are not afraid of being honest. Once you identify the cause you have to figure out what is going on emotionally inside you.

Dealing with being triggered.

It comes down to being proactive. If you see the TV when you get home and you start to get triggered to turn it on put on some music on your computer. You have to stop and realize what is happening emotionally. If you come home and are going to BBQ open a soda or get some water before you start BBQing so you do not want to get a beer. It is about recognizing the trigger and stopping it in its tracks.

It is not about stopping.

Breaking habits that you do not want is not about stopping, it is about substituting a bad habit for a good one. Say you like to hit the junk food right when you get home from work. You are stressed and just need something fatty to eat. Instead of going to the pantry, go to the fridge and pick out some carrots or maybe get some healthy crackers with some dip. It is about finding an alternative to eating a whole bag of chips by yourself. It is about being proactive and knowing yourself good enough that you know you will want to go grab the chips right away, instead, go for the health stuff as soon as you can.

Change small things.

Say you want to form new goal of working out everyday and you have been going after work everyday off and on. You can’t seem to ever be consistent with working out because by the time you get off of work it is already 5:30pm, you have hit rush hour traffic, you are stress, and just want a drink and relax. The last thing you want to do is go punish yourself at the gym. Instead of going to the gym after work, go during your lunch break or go before work. There is nothing better than going about your day knowing that you have already worked out, you feel great. Now that you are working out everyday before work you go everyday. You changed one small thing and now you are in better shape and feeling great.

Use reminders.

What you are trying to do is break a pattern of bad behavior by making reminders for yourself to keep you on track. If you are going to go to the gym earlier in the morning, set your alarm and go to bed early. Put you gym bag right next to the counter all packed and ready to go, and put out your work clothes for when you get back so you can have a quick transition to your day.

Get help.

Get a close friend to help you break some bad habits, let them know that you need to call them when you feel triggered so you can throw off the bad habits. Instead of getting that 5th cup of coffee at work, go for a walk with a coworker with a bottle of water. It is about finding people that will help you along your journey.

If a friend is doing the job but you need more, it can be helpful to seek profession help from your local doctor or psychologist. If you do not have anyone local here is a good resource for online psychologists.

Rewarding yourself.

Do not get discouraged if you are having a hard time. Know that you will probably fail at breaking the habit, this is something that you have been doing for a long time now, no wonder why it is so hard to break. It is normal for us all to feel discouraged but keep looking forward. Start small, going cold turkey on anything is extremely hard. Instead of a pack of cigarettes a day work towards only half. If you are progressing then you need to reward yourself.

Patience and persistence.

Changes in life can be tough and you need to have patience. Know that it is not the end of the world when you do not break all your habits in one day. Give it time, relax, and don’t take life too seriously.