Bad Habits – Time for Change!
To modify bad habits – first you must want to change them!
The decision is yours, and yours alone! First of all you have to take the responsibility to identify your cues and triggers. (Discussed in previous Monday blogs). Also you need to research what are the rewards you get from this habit, what is it that dictates and drives your particular habit and the routine it takes. You then have to find alternatives. It is all about taking control, and making the change happen!
Once you know a habit exists – a ‘bad’ habit that you want to change – it is your responsibility to change it. Think about all the patterns of behaviour that exist – for example how we eat, sleep, communicate etc, which continue throughout most of our lives. If there are any habits that you aren’t happy with, you can change these habits if you really want to. But only you can decide. You have the freedom and responsibility to do so, if it is important to you.
Power of Belief
If you believe you can change, and if you make this belief into a habitual routine, then the change will actually become real. So, back to the basic theory of changing your bad habits, here are the steps to take:
- Identify the habitual routine you follow – this is fairly straightforward, for example having a couple of choc biscuits with a mid morning coffee
- Experiment with rewards – is it the choc biscuits, or the burst of energy you get from it, or the change of scenery, or simply the distraction from the work place
- Isolate the cues and triggers – what are the cues? Is it hunger, boredom, or do you just need a break from work?
- Put a plan together to find the alternatives
Identify the craving behind the habit
The only way to tell is to experiment when you get the urge. So, for example, instead of rushing for your normal coffee and biscuits, go for a walk instead, or have something else other than a coffee and choc biscuits (a glass of sparkling water and an apple perhaps). Change what you normally do. What you choose to do instead of your normal routine isn’t important, but you need to test different ideas to determine which craving is behind your routine.
As you test out some of these rewards, make a note of the first 3 things that come into your mind when you get back to your desk. This can be anything, random thoughts, emotions, etc. It is helpful when you look to analyse your reasons, that you can clearly see what was going on for you at that time. What was important in the aftermath of your routine.
Once back at your desk, and after 15 mins ask yourself, do you still want the coffee and choc biscuits?, do you still feel the urge for them? Your responses will help you to identify which reward you are craving. If you still feel the urge to go out and make a drink, but not to eat the biscuits, then it isn’t the sugar from the biscuits you are craving. Perhaps you are just thirsty. If you go for a walk in the fresh air instead, and after 15 mins the urge for coffee and biscuits has completed disappeared, then perhaps it was just a break you wanted. Once you have worked out what your reward is, then you can look at what triggers your habit, what the cue is.
Most habitual cues or triggers fit into 5 categories:
- Location – where you are at that particular time
- Time – what time of day it is
- Emotional state – how you are feeling
- Other people – is there anyone else around you
- Preceding actions – what specific action came before the urge
Try it Out & See What Happens
You can try this out for a week, and you will be able to spot trends, patterns, in your behaviour. This will help you to determine your habit loop and in turn help you to prepare a plan of action. So looking at the previous example, if you discovered that the reason you had choc biscuits with your coffee was because you were bored, you could change what you do. At the same time every day, set an alarm that triggers you to get up from your desk, and go for a walk.
Try the plan for a month, see how you get on. Obviously the example used here may be a lot easier to change than another more ingrained habit. But give it a go, and see how you get on!
Check out more of my Monday Motivation Blogs HERE.
About the Author: Carole Langman works behind the scenes at Bowerland Cottage Holidays and Devon Dogs as the Business Manager. Her office is always a hive of activity, and with the vast amounts of work Carole has, we never really know how she gets through it all! To unwind, she loves gardening, hikes around Bowerland, travelling and writing.