First we form habits then they form us. Conquer your bad habits, or they’ll eventually conquer you. -- Dr Rob Gilbert
Personal Development is a function of good habits. More healthy habits we develop (and bad habits we break), better our personality becomes. Nurturing golden habits is the key to success. But how many of us engage in breaking bad habits and building good ones, consciously? Breaking old bad habits and building new ones is a sort of change and change is always painful. It is challenging to break habits. There is no magic bullet; we will have to go through the aching path. We need to practice lot of self-discipline for first few weeks but gradually it gets easier. Once we are able to change the old habit to a new healthier one, it will serve us very well.
Here are 5 easy steps to replace bad habits with good ones:
- Make a choice: What bad habits do you have? What habit do you want to do away with? (zero down to one single habit you want to work on) Why do you want to break any habit? How do you plan to do the same? Awareness leads to better choice and better choice in turn leads to better results. Once you know all the pros and cons of the habit you will be in a position to make better trade off. Once you know the payoff and trade off; make a choice and commit for the change.
- Write it down: Don’t leave commitments in your brain. Write them on paper. This does two things. First, it creates clarity by defining in specific terms what your change means. Second, it keeps you committed since it is easy to dismiss a thought, but harder to dismiss a promise printed in front of you. Putting on paper what you want (or do not want) has lot of psychological impact in your favor. Once you actually put this on piece of paper in specific terms, it converts into desire and your subconscious mind also starts working for you. As Paulo Coelho says, ‘the whole world conspires to help you in achieving your goals’.
- One habit at a time: It takes 3 to 4 weeks to break an old bad habit or to replace it with good one. It may seem like a long time to focus on only one change, but I’ve found trying to change more than a few habits at a time to be reckless. With just one habit change you can focus on making it really stick. Multitasking between three or four often means all get ignored. So have faith and work with patience.
- Take action & persevere: There is a story, ‘one out of four frogs sitting on the log at the banks of river decides to jump in the water. How many are left? You might say three, right? Wrong. Deciding is not doing. Similarly no matter how fool proof your plan is? To get results, you need to take action and keep on taking it with renewed energy and feedback every time. Bouncing back is the secret of success. Even if you fail thousand times, make one more attempt. Don’t quit, persevere.
- Ask for help: Go to your friend and request for help. Partner with your friends, spouse, siblings or parents. Yes, self-motivation for self-discipline is sine qua non for succeeding in breaking bad habits. But other people can be of great help to you in doing so. Seeking help from invisible hands also gives you faith and required impetus. God cares about every area of our life and HE wants us to ask for help. Make God, your mentor in the journey of personal development. When we rely on our relationship with God, it makes us more capable individuals. I advocate living by simple philosophy: Do your best and let God do the rest.
Say bye to old bad habits and start living with the ones you always wanted to live with.