Identify the Why
The best way to create sustainable change is by identifying the triggers of the bad habits as they happen. Bad habits are the result of ingrained reactions occurring as a direct result of one or more triggers. We develop these pesky patterns to change the way we feel in that moment. You can alleviate these impulsive inclinations by spending time reflecting on what’s actually happening before you open the refrigerator for the Cookie Dough ice cream. Next time you grab the phone to see how many Facebook likes popped up, ask yourself some questions, “Am I doing this because I’m tired, lonely, stressed or sad?” Once you identify the why of the “go- to” behavior, you’ll find it easier to talk yourself off the ledge when temptation arises.
R&R: Remove and Replace
The most overlooked factor of eliminating destructive propensities is the fear around what happens after you remove the negative activity from your routine. Willpower goes out the window if you don’t replace these behaviors with healthier alternatives. If you usually go to happy hour after work, choose a sports activity, yoga class or take a walk outside during the time you would be occupying that seat at the bar. If you’re convinced you’ll never wake up without your phone at your bedside, purchase an alarm clock. Most importantly, don’t replace the more enticing activity with one you’ll find to be unpleasant. If exercise isn’t your thing, gym substitutions will send you back into the open arms of your neighborhood bartender or seductive smartphone.
No one is perfect. Planning for failure is as important as modifying your routine. Perfectionism is a dangerous mindset when breaking a bad habit, and it leads to you feeling defeated. You’re a human, when you stumble and fall backwards remind yourself you can begin again with even more conviction. Release your critical voice. Keep moving forward.
Just for the Tech Addicts
The big buzz obsession is tech addiction. Most individuals aren’t convinced it’s a dependency, thinking instead it’s a simple necessity. This can lead to prioritizing our digital connections where it negatively affects our sleep, our job performance and our relationships. Here are some tips to avoid it:
Right Place, Right time. A business environment isn’t the best way to test alternative behaviors when minimizing the use of technology. If you’re in a meeting, try something low key, like balling up your fist and opening it in 10 second increments until the feeling to check your phone passes.
Go analog! Start by spending a technology free dinner with friends then work up to a whole day without looking at a screen or keyboard. I was panic stricken the first time I tried this suggestion. Now, I have screen free Sundays every week.
Change your Routine. Replace checking your email when opening your eyes with reading quietly for ten minutes, stretching or my favorite…do something creative in the morning!
The struggles we face making significant life changes are real. It is essential to find support from your community or create a new community. The connection with other individuals experiencing the same challenges works better than any patch, shot or supplement guaranteeing immediate results. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness, it is the strongest thing you can do for yourself.
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