So, you’ve got some bad habits, who doesn’t? Sure, you could just quit cold turkey that works one out of ten times, or you could try changing bad habits into good ones which is much more effective and long-lasting.
Changing bad habits into good ones will help to keep you from backsliding into old behavior patterns which link you to those destructive activities that are not helping you to become the better person you want to be.
Old or bad habits can throw a wrench in your intention to step fully into your new and improved life and can keep you anchored in the old life of your past.
There are many methods of letting go of those activities and actions which connect you to the “old you” which can take a lot of research, delving into your past to find the root cause of what triggers the behavior, which is part of the deep inner work which you will probably want to do at some point.
Even so, if there is a habit you’d like to let go of in the meantime, you could just consider changing a bad habit into a good one.
Before you start changing your bad habit into a good one, review the habit you’d like to change out. Ask yourself why you want to stop doing this thing (whatever it is) and make a list of all the reasons you can come up with.
The more reasons you can come up with, about how this bad habit affects your life, and the lives of those around you, the better.
Now, you can’t just look at the downside, because you wouldn’t be doing this thing if you didn’t receive some benefit from it. So, next up, make a list of the why you like to participate in this habit. What do you get out of it?
Make a list of all the benefits you receive for yourself every time you do it.
Maybe it makes you feel better, or maybe you have just done it for so long its pure automatic response, with little benefit, but it would seem weird not to do it.
Here’s the tricky part but it’s also the most fun. Imagine yourself about to engage in your bad habit. What could you do instead in that moment? What, when you are triggered to do that thing, which you’d rather not do, could you do instead that would be far better for you and/or others?
Try not to limit yourself to just one thing, come up with as many as you can, then pick the best one.
Establish yourself as not having that old habit anymore by using your voice, first to yourself in the mirror, then out loud to others. Like, “I don’t smoke anymore.” This is the statement for the new you, “I don’t smoke.” (Replace “smoke” with whatever the bad habit is.)
Take time to see yourself in your mind’s eye as this new person who does this. See how it affects your life and those around you. Using your imagination, visualize all the positive benefits that come from your engaging in the new, good habit.
You don’t have to say what you’ve chosen to do instead of your old habit, show it by example. The next time you feel like participating in that old habit, do the new thing. Use the very same trigger to do something good for yourself or others.
Instead of doing whatever it is, give someone a compliment, eat a healthy snack, fix your hair, call a friend, do a good deed for someone else, look into a pocket mirror and tell yourself how much you love yourself, write something positive in your journal, grab the nearest book and randomly open it reading the first paragraph that piques your interest, make a paper airplane then write something encouraging on it and throw it out the window. Whatever it is, do that thing.
This is part of your new identity. Instead of doing that old thing, now you do this new thing that is more in-line with your goals and helping to make the world a better place.
As you get accustomed to doing better things by changing bad habits into good ones, you don’t have to do just the one replacement, you can just pick from a variety of good things to do instead.
There is no judgment here for you, and there must be none there for you. If you falter and fall back into your old habit do not beat yourself up. You are not a bad person, you are not broken, there is nothing wrong with you.
Jot it down on your calendar. Tomorrow is another day. Make it through that day, no matter what. While changing bad habits into good ones can lead to lasting instantaneous change, sometimes it takes time. If so, there is nothing wrong with that.
If you’ve been jotting your progress on your calendar, you will notice the number of days of the new habit being exercised growing between the old one showing up. Before you know it, the old habit will be long gone. Just keep going and growing.
This is growth and change, and only you could have accomplished such a feat.