Break a habit with complete confidence.

Break a habit with complete confidence.

break a habit
Have you ever tried to break a habit and wondered why it’s so hard? For an old behaviour to be
truly put to rest there’s a network of factors that have to be satisfied – discipline alone isn’t the answer. There’s something a little more subtle going on that needs to be taken into account if you want to succeed.

Don’t get me wrong, discipline does play it’s part, but it only goes so far. Think of it in terms of trying to get a huge boulder moving. Initially you need to give it a huge shove, lots of force. This is the discipline part. Once that boulder is moving though, the type of force you need to keep it going is very different and less constant. Similarly once you’ve chosen to break a habit, the way you then deal with yourself will determine your likelihood of success.

So you’ve made the commitment to break a habit. You’ve taken the first step in the here and now. Just how do you keep that momentum going?

To habit is human.

To break a habit you need to be decisive but reasonable with yourself. You see, much of what we do is unconscious. Meaning you don’t have to think about it. Habits certainly fit into this category. That’s why, in order to take control, you need to be sensitive to the fact that you’re dealing with a pattern of learned behaviour that’s simply running on autopilot.

What you’re really trying to achieve is to do something else unconsciously. Even if that something else is simply not doing the thing that’s the issue.

Now, I’m sure you’ll agree that getting to the stage where you can do anything unconsciously takes a sustained effort, right? Learning to drive? Acquiring a physical skill? Learning a new language? Well, it’s the same when you try to break a habit …or perhaps I should say develop a much better habit. It’s not something that you can just decide to do and then consistently do it.

Like I say, it will take a sustained effort, so you should plan for this. Also, consider these three motivational strategies which should also help you set off in the right direction.

1: Time is your friend.

To break a habit you need time. It doesn’t happen overnight. Giving yourself too short a time frame is just setting yourself up for failure. This will just make it more likely that you’ll give up. Give yourself plenty of time to gain complete control of your tendency. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be pleasantly surprised by doing better than expected. Or that you’re giving yourself free reign to continue indulging in your old behaviour up until this ‘deadline’. It just means that you’re not going to be dejected and demotivated if it takes a little time to gain complete self-control.

2. Coax, don’t criticize.

The way that you talk to yourself is going to have a massive impact on how quickly you’re able to make progress. If you run negative self-talk, criticizing your weakness, then you’ll find it takes you longer to change your habits. You’ll lose your belief that you can make progress, effectively anchoring yourself to your current behaviour. Alternatively if your inner dialogue is optimistic and encouraging then you’ll gain belief that you can succeed and this motivation will carry you forwards towards success.

3: Forgive yourself.

If you ask someone successful what the biggest factors in their success are, resilience to failure is likely to be high up on their list. There’s not much that we can do well without having failed at it a number of times. From taking our first steps to learning to read, failure is part of the natural pathway to performance. If you can accept this then you’ll understand that there’s nothing to be gained by punishing yourself for ‘falling off the wagon’. It’s better to simply reaffirm your commitment to wanting to break your habit and get back on track as quickly as possible.

What helped you break a habit? I love to hear a great success story!

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