Yes, you can break habits in 5 steps. They might not be so easy, but they are doable. I’ve already talked about this briefly (see ‘Showing Up’ article/blog).
Ahhh. This one is a toughie. How many habits do we all have that we’d like to change/get rid of and transform into a better habit?
How in the world do you do it? It is so very hard to make the changes necessary to break a bad habit. What is the usual rant in our heads? ‘Next time. I’ll do it next time.’ Yeah, right. And next time turns into next time and turns into next time…
Believe that you can do this, and you can. Yes, believe you can.
Take these steps: (you must take all 5 steps, with number 4 being the toughest to get through…ok, maybe #1 might be a tough one too).
Step #1: Acknowledge that you have a habit you wish to change.
Without acknowledging that you have a problem habit, you have not yet reached square one. That is the first step you have to pass in order to even begin Step #2. Yes, there is an effort involved in getting past square one. First get to this acknowledgment that you have a habit you wish to change. It is the only way to begin breaking/changing/transforming it.
Step #2. Acknowledge what has gotten in your way of achieving it already.
Have you already tried breaking this habit? What were the results? How many times did you attempt it? What got in the way of achieving it every time you attempted it?
Be honest with yourself on this one. Nobody can answer this for you (they will make an attempt, and sometimes they are spot on, however, without you truly recognizing the reason for past attempts that didn’t quite work, you’ll have very little success with your next attempt.
If someone was right on target with the correct reason/s, let them know. They will have more respect for you. By acknowledging that they were correct, you are holding yourself accountable for your actions. People admire that in others. Now you’re earning admiration, respect, and building trust.
Step #3. Find some backup (support from friends/family, or some form of accountability).
If you let someone know that you are wanting to change a habit and you need assistance/support/accountability, this is the best way to do it. Ask them to partner with you on your achievement of this goal. They can only support, as the work is really on you.
Having an accountability partner can have tremendous power in the achievement of your goal. Skipping this step can severely slow down your progress. Include this step as part of the whole package to breaking a habit, (e.g. in our Tabata Bootcamps, everyone gets 8 bracelets to help them remember to drink 8 glasses of water daily. They can put them on their wrists or on their water bottle (easier to be accountable when it’s right in front of you).
Step #4. OK, now on to the hardest part of this entire process: In the middle of ‘doing it’ (your habit), STOP. The easiest way to stop is to change the environment. Take a deep breath. Get centered on your goal. Then make a change. Right then and there make another choice. Move around, get up, get out, leave, walk around, put the food away, put the potentially ‘new’ clothing item down and leave the store immediately, leave the ice cream counter before ordering, order water instead of that second drink, stop before you say ‘yes’ one more time to another commitment to someone else, put the item back on the shelf and walk away, exit out of Facebook, etc.
This is really and truly the hardest part of the process into breaking a habit. Habits are often addictions in disguise. That is when it gets really tough (when it is already an addiction—at this point you might need professional help to break your addiction). And that takes us to the second hardest part of this process:
Step #5. Repeat Step #4 over and over until you have a new habit. Yes, your last step is to continue to repeat Step #4 over and over.
Most of us will need to repeat this process over and over until we no longer need that habit, and we have transformed it into a healthier and more productive habit.
Desire, motivation, and persistence will work, as will support from your accountability partner. Keep in mind that guilt-tripping should not be included here. Allow yourself to go through the process at your own pace. If your support person guilt-trips you, let them know it is not helping you in any way. You must tell them exactly what you need from them. There should be no guilt in this entire process.
So what else does it take to make changes? You have desire at a 10 (on a scale of 1-10), you are motivated at a 10, you have resources and tools to help you (also at a 10)…now what else do you need to be persistent? Self-discipline.
What creates discipline? Some people are just naturally inclined towards self-discipline. Others…not so much. This has to do with character and personality. Some people will need to do more work than others.
Discipline will develop even more when you continually commit to achieving your goal. Take the intense desire that will help create the motivation, and pair it with persistence. When you keep on keeping’ on with the new changes you are making, you are disciplining yourself.
Change is hard. Just ‘doing it’ anyway is creating discipline. Yes, discipline is doing that which you’d rather not do in lieu of the immediate gratification you can get doing something else (e.g. choosing to go to class when you’d rather go out to dinner with friends).
You know that going to class is getting you closer to a goal you have set for yourself. That long-term goal is really important to you. If you make excuses so that you can get instant gratification instead, you are weakening your discipline, and you have slowed your progress towards your goal.Yeah, a step backwards. And that is OK. You will get stronger at this, the longer you persist. It will happen. You take this at your own pace.
Stay focused on your goals/intentions for changing the habit. Then just do it. Over and over and over.
See you on the other side of this moment…
And remember to look up~
Clara E Minor is Owner and Master/Instructor Trainer at MINORSAN Self-Defense & Fitness in Santa Cruz, CA