If you think that creating a habit is hard, wait until you would like to break one!
Why you see, it is evolution that is playing as for a foul, where a place in our brains where habits are going on has been protected for 1000 of years. This place is called basal ganglia. It’s in the same place as your functions for breathing and blinking and stuff like that that you do automatic. So it is no wonder that is is hard to break or make.
But we are no weak humans, there are systems in place to help us. Let me show you.
1.) You need yours why.
This is yours to go point, your motivation and your best friend. Why do you need to break your habits? The more the accurate answer the more you have success with. It works like this:
I need to stop smoking because it’s bad for me.
There is no purpose in here there is no life goal or something personal.
I need to stop smoking because I’m afraid of getting lung cancer
This is better since, there is your personal fear and you will work with it to prevent it.
I need to stop smoking so I will give a good example for my kids and they also don’t need to breathe my smoke and smell my scent.
So every time that you need to smoke you can go to this line and think about the kids and if not for you do it for them.
2.) Find your triggers
Like with creating habits, you need triggers. You fire a trigger before you do your habit.
Be aware when the habits spring into action. What are you watching for? Anytime when you do the habit, any time that you have the urge to have a habit. Watch yourself what are you doing in this moment that trigger fires.
As before if it’s measured it is managed. So keep a journal about this for first few days. It does not need to be long and it does not need to be in a paper from we are in 21 century! 🙂 I keep mine in google keep.
So anytime you need to have a smoke, you can, write what is happening with you, like I’m bored, I’m exhausted, I’m nervous, I need a break or I don’t even know when I light the damn thing…
3.) When you have data, it is time to quit!
But as we now know, we need a system in place so we can be sure we are going to go with this habit all the way to the happy end.
You can choose to go “cold turkey” or take it easy and go gradually out of this.
This means that you have to decide, are you going from 20 cigarettes to 0 or are you going this week from 20 to 15 and next from 15 to 10 and so on.
4.) Having a replacement habits.
Our monkey in our brains is not so stupid that will let us quit the habit and have nothing in return. So you need to think about replacement habit, that you will do instead of your bad habit.
This could be anything from drinking a glass of water, to move your wristband from one hand to another, it does not have to be something complex. You have to watch out that you don’t replace a bad habit with another bad habit. Like “uh uh I need to smoke, so I will browse on the internet for another hour or so”
Replacement habits could be also, squats, pushups or just 1 minute of meditation.
5.) Get reminded
Okey, you are all set up to go break your habit, now you only have to do it! Your brains are lazy so they won’t do it by themselves and change of habit won’t just happen. You will have to remind yourself from the start.
Any kind of notification will work. First to know your triggers, then physical cues, notes, apps and email reminders.
More that you see the cues the more it is pushed in your brains in your automatization part of the brain, the easier will get.
Now some examples:
Every time that I had an urge to bite my nails or I caught myself already biting them I change my rubber wristband from one hand to another. This act was painless, I could do it everywhere I was and it give me this pause that I need to get over my urge to bite nails.
There is no logical reason to bite your nails other that it’s a habit that cops with your anxiety and to calm your nerves. I was doing it for 20 years and I don’t think any good come out of it.
You could have some positive messages that will set a tone for a day in your bathroom. Like “we are warriors every day” to remind yourself that every day is a battle you have to win. It will get your spirits up!
You can have, “10 pushups is for pussies” to remind you to get some workout
You can change your desktop wallpaper of phone wallpaper, then there are apps like HabitBull or just google calendar.
6.) Track your success
I hope that you can see the pattern now, that you need to track what you do for solely your brains, to comprehend what you did, when you look back and say what did I do this month, the evidence is there for you to see, this is so powerful that will give you unlimited power to go on and do other amazing stuff.
If you make a plan, how this whole thing will work out it will be much easier and you will be happy with the progress and it will not be just another stupid thing that you are not good at. If you make a plan how to quit habit you can tick off the things that you already did.
Here is how it looks:
QUIT THE HABIT PLAN
Habit I’m quitting:
Why I’m quitting: (you should have an important reason)
Triggers: (list triggers here, add triggers as you notice them)
Replacement habit(s): (one habit for each trigger)
Reminders: (how will you remember when the trigger happens?)
Gradual or cold turkey: (choose one, and if gradual, say how you’ll gradually reduce)
Potential obstacles: (what obstacles can you foresee? add actual obstacles as they happen)
Rationalizations: (as you notice yourself rationalizing, add them here)
Accountability: (who will you be accountable to, how, and how often?)
Review dates: (when will you do a review of how you’re doing, with obstacles that have come up?)
Click to share to get google spreadsheet you can copy it to your google drive or copy paste it to excel and print it out!
7.) Accountability and rewards
After everything is read and understood there is just one thing that you need to do.
Start your breaking habit cycle. Accountability is one thing that will make or break your habit. You have to be accountable mostly to yourself, do this for you, not others. Remember the WHY we do this habit?
There will be a time when you will wish to quit and try to rationalise this. It will sound something like
- You shouldn’t do this, you’re weak
- It’s OK to give in for now.
- Just this once won’t matter.
- You deserve a reward.
- You deserve a break.
- It’s OK to give in for now.
All this excuse will come up. You can bet your money on it. Actually you should 🙂 One of the best way to keep your promises is that you put some money to “ charity ” that you don’t like. I’m sure you will find one here 🙂 http://www.charitynavigator.org/ .
Or another idea is that you post on facebook, that you will buy a round of beers to anybody that will catch you on cheating on your habits, like biting nails or not posting your walk from Runnkeper or posting how many days is since you last smoked.
C’mon give it a try, people love this stuff and it’s harder to lie to them than to yourself. This is called commitment, this is how you get yourself out of comfort zone and do something good for yourself and start living more happy life.
Your rewards come with the challenge, just to see this post on facebook that you made it is somehow rewarding and you can have bragging rights, but the most wonderful reward comes sometime later, that you realise you can do it, you can change and you can be happier in your life. Even more you know you can repeat process anytime you need with same or other habits.
1.) Pick a habit
2.) Fill out the habit plan
3.) Read this again and report to facebook or comments for any problems 🙂