By Shannon Flanagan- CPT
If you want to change a habit, and make an everlasting change, the first thing to do is to set a goal. Change the belief and desire you have of yourself in the area you wish to change. Write down all the things you’ll no longer tolerate and all the things you want to accomplish. What do you demand of yourself?
A habit begins with a number of beliefs that together create a strategy. When it is repeated often enough, the strategy becomes a habit … so how can you change a habit once it’s been formed?
First, you must believe in yourself. You must have believe that this habit can change in order to go further in to the process. From there you must set goals and a plan to make it real. You can treat the situation like a game, set a weekly goal and if you stick to it reward yourself with something positive and healthy at the end of the week.
You need to have a strong belief, without any doubt in the achievement and success of your needs. These beliefs need to be logical commands because they’ll shape every thought, feeling and action you’ll take. Within the strength of these beliefs lies the “core” to real and everlasting change.
2. TAKE CONTROL
If not, no matter what you decide to change, you’ll never have the conviction to achieve your goals or the desire to truly change.
3. CREATE STRATEGY
Once you have the beliefs that will lead to your success rooted within you, you then need to have a plan to achieve the results. I’ve provided the example result of getting in shape below; follow this strategy to enhance your belief in your goal.
Set your beliefs that you’re in great shape and physically fit; you know what you can accomplish (such as running a marathon). You know it’s going to be a long road of training, but picture yourself at the finish line or at the 27th mile with a beer in your hand.
Enhance the whole image you’ve set in your mind. Feel the feelings inside you and notice the pure pleasure of how good it feels when you can create the body you want.
Let change happen. After these changes have taken place and been performed repetitively, a new pattern will develop that will create the habitual change within you.
Determine what has to happen for you to know that you’ve made the desired changes in your life. What would be the final step? Would it be that you can fit in to that pair of jeans you used to wear in college? Would it be that people comment on the “new” you?
4. CLIMB THE STEPS
Choose several steps you can take each day that will assist you on your journey toward the new you. Set reminders daily and force the habit. If you want to exercise and lose weight try these steps:
- Set your alarm early.
- Have workout clothes laid out the night before, for easy accessibility.
- Have a healthy lunch prepared the night before.
- Stock your fridge with healthy snacks you can grab quickly when you’re hungry.
- Plan all your meals in advance.
- Schedule exercise, meals, and other healthy activities into your day planner or PDA.
5. BE SPECIFIC
Buy a gym journal and write exactly what you’re doing, as in, “I’m walking three miles today and will do so on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week.” This is much better than simply saying, “I will exercise each week.” Make your commitment to your goal.
6. MAKE THE COMMITMENT
Think about what’s at stake and focus again on the list you made, thinking about how it’ll feel and what benefits you’ll receive when you incorporate this strategic change into your life. We’ve all had the experience of wanting to start an exercise program “next week”; when next week comes and goes, we just put things off, and it never happens. Make the commitment to begin — and follow through.
7. NOTICE THE FEELING OF FAILURE
If you fall down it’s not the end of the world if you get up. Don’t let once little lapse get you down. Notice the “guilty” feeling of not completing your task. The results you get are the product of your thinking, so if you continue to be disappointed at what you achieve, you must be willing to ask yourself some hard questions and change your beliefs.
8. RECORD YOUR RESULTS
Journaling is way to keep track of how far you’ve come and how much you’ve accomplished. It can be difficult to remember so it’s great to take pictures before and compare after 6-8 weeks. Journaling can be as simple as a brief paragraph noting what days you performed a certain habit or task and what the outcome was. You can also use a journal to record specifics of your diet and exercise regime as well as how you’re feeling as a whole and any emotional events that are occurring. It’s important to do this daily.
*Photo from Constant Contact