New Year’s Day is almost upon us and most of us will be making New Year’s Resolutions. If you’re like most people, you mean to do things differently in 2020, but somehow, you get pulled off track. The force of habit is one of the most powerful forces that can interfere with your desire to change your behavior.
Habits can support you to have a higher quality life, to achieve goals and to make taking positive action easier. Conversely, habits can also block you from achieving your goals by keeping you trapped in old behaviors that no longer support positive action.
Habits take energy to maintain. Each habit, regardless of whether it supports you or not, takes time and energy to maintain. When a habit no longer provides a benefit, the habit not only takes up space in your life, but it also drains you of valuable time, energy and other resources.
Evaluate your habits
At the end of the week, review the list you made, and ask yourself: What are the healthy habits that you engage in daily? For example, brushing and flossing your teeth is a healthy habit, especially if you engage in it daily.
Which habits are unhealthy or need to be eliminated? Munching on chips and dips while watching Monday night football or having a big bowl of ice cream before you go to bed every night isn’t particularly healthy. Moreover, it will probably also result in weight gain.
Let your old habits expire
The next step it to identify three habits you would like to change. The goal here is to successfully change at least one habit. Start with the habit that will be easiest to change, and tackle the hard habits after mastering some of the easier ones.
In general, the quickest way to let an old habit expire is to replace it with some other activity that better supports your life and is more fun.
For example, instead of munching in front of the television, consider taking a class, calling an old friend, or doing something that gets you away from the fridge and the television. Habits are virtually impossible to break when you go cold turkey, but are often easily changed when you substitute something else.
When you can’t break a habit
Habits often stay in place just from the sheer momentum of doing them all the time. If you continue to be stumped by a particularly tough habit, ask yourself, “What benefit am I getting from continuing this habit?” Are the benefits greater than the costs?
If the benefits don’t outweigh the costs, identify a different behavior that you could substitute that will give you greater benefits.
Then, when you’re about to engage in the old habit, stop yourself and ask, “Is doing this behavior one more time really worth the cost, or is engaging in a different behavior a better choice?”
Thus, instead of falling victim to the sheer force of habit, you are consciously making a choice with respect to your actions.
These two simple steps, having awareness of the costs of an old habit as well as having an alternative habit to choose, are the simplest way to let those old non-supportive habits expire.
How to replace an old habit
Determining when to replace a habit can be challenging. Although it is easy to see subtle changes in others, it is often much more difficult to see subtle changes within ourselves.
Here are some questions to consider when reviewing the usefulness of a given habit:
- Does a habit require a growing amount of energy (mental and/or physical) to accomplish?
- Are you defensive when someone challenges the usefulness or outcome of your habit?
- Do you feel drained after you have engaged in the habit?
- Is the quality of your life declining due to this habit?
- Does a habit negatively impact your health or well-being?
- Does a habit cost more and more money to maintain?
- Does a habit make your life harder (increase struggle?)
- Does a habit make the accomplishment of your goals harder
- Do you experience any guilt or shame around a habit?
- Does a habit compromise one or more of your core values?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, the beginning of 2020 is an excellent time to is let that old habit expire and to find a more constructive, supportive replacement.
Once you can identify the cost of a habit as well as what damage that habit might be causing, replacing it with a different behavior becomes much easier. When a habit is no longer supports your life, it is time to let it expire and begin a new habit.
Happy New Year!
Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.
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