Your habits can change, It’s possible.
Keep it simple
Habit change is not that complicated. While the tips below will seem overwhelming, there’s really only a few things you need to know. Everything else is just helping these to become reality.
The simple steps of habit change:
1. Write down your plan.
2. Identify your triggers and replacement habits.
3. Focus on doing the replacement habits every single time the triggers happen, for about 30 days.
The Habit Change Cheatsheet
The following is a compilation of tips to help you change a habit. Don’t be overwhelmed — always remember the simple steps above. The rest are different ways to help you become more successful in your habit change.
1. Do just one habit at a time. Extremely important. Habit change is difficult, even with just one habit. If you do more than one habit at a time, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
2. Start small. The smaller the better, because habit change is difficult, and trying to take on too much is a recipe for disaster. Want to exercise? Start with just 5-10 minutes. Want to wake up earlier? Try just 10 minutes earlier for now. Or consider half habits.
3. Do a 30-day Challenge. In my experience, it takes about 30 days to change a habit, if you’re focused and consistent.
4. Write it down. Just saying you’re going to change the habit is not enough of a commitment. You need to actually write it down, on paper. Write what habit you’re going to change.
5. Make a plan. While you’re writing, also write down a plan. This will ensure you’re really prepared. The plan should include your reasons (motivations) for changing, obstacles, triggers, support buddies, and other ways you’re going to make this a success. More on each of these below.
6. Know your motivations, and be sure they’re strong. Write them down in your plan. You have to be very clear why you’re doing this, and the benefits of doing it need to be clear in your head.
7. Don’t start right away. In your plan, write down a start date. Maybe a week or two from the date you start writing out the plan.
8. Write down all your obstacles. If you’ve tried this habit change before (odds are you have), you’ve likely failed. Reflect on those failures, and figure out what stopped you from succeeding.
9. Identify your triggers. What situations trigger your current habit?
10. For every single trigger, identify a positive habit you’re going to do instead.
11. Plan a support system. Who will you turn to when you have a strong urge? Write these people into your plan.
12. Ask for help. Get your family and friends and co-workers to support you. Ask them for their help, and let them know how important this is.
13. Become aware of self-talk. You talk to yourself, in your head, all the time — but often we’re not aware of these thoughts. Start listening.
14. Stay positive. You will have negative thoughts — the important thing is to realize when you’re having them, and push them out of your head. Squash them like a bug!
15. Have strategies to defeat the urge. Urges are going to come — they’re inevitable, and they’re strong. But they’re also temporary, and beatable.
16. Prepare for the sabotagers. There will always be people who are negative, who try to get you to do your old habit. Be ready for them.
17. Talk to yourself. Be your own cheerleader, give yourself pep talks, repeat your mantra (below).
18. Have a mantra. “Liberate Yourself”. This is just a way to remind yourself of what you’re trying to do.
19. Use visualization. This is powerful. Vividly picture, in your head, successfully changing your habit.
20. Have rewards. Regular ones. You might see these as bribes, but actually they’re just positive feedback.
21. Take it one urge at a time. Often we’re told to take it one day at a time — which is good advice — but really it’s one urge at a time. Just make it through this urge.
22. Not One Puff Ever (in other words, no exceptions).
23. Get rest. Being tired leaves us vulnerable to relapse. Get a lot of rest so you can have the energy to overcome urges.
24. Drink lots of water. Similar to the item above, being dehydrated leaves us open to failure. Stay hydrated!
25. Renew your commitment often. Remind yourself of your commitment hourly, and at the beginning and end of each day. Read your plan. Celebrate your success. Prepare yourself for obstacles and urges.
26. Set up public accountability. Blog about it, post on a forum, email your commitment and daily progress to friend and family, post a chart up at your office.
27. Engineer it so it’s hard to fail. Create a groove that’s harder to get out of than to stay in: increase positive feedback for sticking with the habit, and increase negative feedback for not doing the habit.
28. Avoid some situations where you normally do your old habit, at least for awhile, to make it a bit easier on yourself.
29. If you fail, figure out what went wrong, plan for it, and try again. Don’t let failure and guilt stop you.
Leo Babauta is the author of The Power of Less and the creator and blogger at Zen Habits, a Top 100 blog with 130,000 subscribers – one of the top productivity and simplicity blogs on the Internet. Check out more via https://zenhabits.net/the-habit-change-cheatsheet-29-ways-to-successfully-ingrain-a-behavior/