Today’s post focuses on how to get rid of a bad habit. I like to give easy to use tips so that you can work some of these steps into your life as soon as possible. No guru necessary, just me and you hanging out talking.
Are you ready? Great!
Imagine it is just you and I sitting one on one in the most comfortable spot in your house, apartment, dorm room, where ever you call home.
Personally I am picturing myself in soft slippers, in my office at home which has pretty plush carpet. So I like to just lay or sit on the floor.
Now that you are relaxed we can get to work. Tell me what bad habit you are trying to get rid of? Is it smoking? Overeating? Overtalking (yeah that’s a thing).
Too much sweets, soda, snacking at night? I used to be a big night snacker, then my dentist put a stop to it. Or maybe it was the cavities. I don’t know.
Whatever your habit is, it can be changed here’s how:
1.) Figure out what your triggers are
Now for me as it gets later, I get more energy. I am a natural night owl and always have been. But my night tendencies come with a price. Mannnnn I get hungry!
And in college I developed a bad habit of having snacks like chips, kit kats (mmmm), protein bars, crackers, oranges, chicken wings near my computer. So I could type essays and give myself some sugar or carb energy to get through it.
It became so bad that whenever I sat at my computer I had to snack on something and most of the time I was not hungry at all. Oddly my computer became a trigger to eat, that had to be corrected.
Once you know what triggers your behavior or least a piece of what helps to encourage it you are ready for step 2.
2.) Make small adjustments
I grew up with a mother that quit smoking cold turkey. No patch, no gum, nothing. Just decided she was done and through her Salem 100’s in the trash.
The result? She used coffee as a crutch for a long time and became addicted to that instead. If she didn’t drink a few cups she was an angry somebody to deal with man.
Instead of just up and quitting I believe in making small changes over time to modify the behavior. For me, I started by removing the sugary snacks first away from my computer. All candy (farewell kit kats), cookies had to go.
Then I just had to remove protein bars with high amounts of sugar. I couldn’t pull myself to toss those, so instead of laying them on my computer desk, they went into the top cabinet in my kitchen (hey these are baby steps, it counts).
Going back to the smoking example, you may want to try reducing the amount of cigarettes you smoke or even the amount of time you spend smoking.
I believe that the brain and body adapts better to tiny changes over time. Just keep slowly cutting until you reach your ultimate goal. There’s less chance of relapse or going back to your old ways.
If you happen to relapse and find yourself falling back into the habits, that’s okay. Trust me, it happens. What’s important is that you take time to figure out what caused the relapse and how you can a little better tomorrow.
3.) Change your surroundings
If your environment doesn’t change how can you? Have you ever heard the phrase “product of your environment”? You are only as good as what is surrounding you and everything around you has to be conducive to creating the new you.
Eventually I got to the point where I did not have to have any sugar or fried food while I typed. BUT I did have to have something, so I settled for snacking on apple slices and protein powder drinks…
The problem was I still snacked ALL NIGHT, until my essay or blog post, or even movies (yes plural) were over. I had to change my surroundings.
While in school I found that going to the 24-hour computer lab helped me concentrate on just the paper, no snacks were allowed in the lab just water for some strange reason. Then I move my computer desk (which used to be in a nook near the kitchen) to my bedroom.
I have a thing about crumbs getting in the bed and maintaining an orderly sleeping area. So naturally I would not bring any food near my bed, just water :).
Eventually, I broke my late night snacking habit and found out some key things along the way. I discovered that the computer was catalyst but I was also stress eating. The eating calmed my nerves as I wrote.
Why was I stressed? Probably because I didn’t take the time to relax before beginning my assignments or blogs posts. Poor planning, trying to do too much at the same time or within the same blocks of time.
I had to change my routine and plan out how I was going to handle my workload before just jumping in and trying to do them. To this day, my blog posts come out much better when I just relax then write.
I actually may read something completely unrelated to my blog topic ranging from a few minutes to 30 minutes. Then start typing. This helps me reach a calm, introspective place that is just easier for me to write from.
Okay this may be getting a little too deep, let’s wrap this up.
You are your own coach
Yes, it’s helpful to have an accountability partner or someone you can confide in while you are breaking a habit. Yes, people are always better with a coach (look at Michael Jordan) but you are also your own coach.
Your success will depend on you being able to coach yourself when no one is around. Once you set some of the other steps in motion, I believe it will become easier to self coach.
I believe in you, you can do it!