I have a couple of posts planned over the next few weeks about breaking free from habits and a lot of my work as a coach goes towards helping others change or adapt their habits to help them reach their goals. In upcoming posts I will tell you exactly how I became a non smoker, and will also tell you how I am becoming (as this is still a work in progress) a morning person.
But before doing that I wanted to share a few questions to ask yourself to help you get on the way to breaking free from bad habits. These questions can be applied pretty much universally, to any habits you are wanting to change. A note of caution: please seek the medical or psychological support you may need to break serious and destructive habits and addictions.
1. What is <this habit> doing for me?
Note that I said “for” not “to”. If we are doing something we are doing it for a reason. What need is it fulfilling for you? You might need to dig a little on this question but the goal is to find the why behind the habit. Once you know this you will be better armed to deal with it.
2. What will be the advantages of changing this habit?
How will my life be different? What will my life be like when I no longer <insert habit here>. Be careful not to use the words “give up”. What will I be when I become <the opposite of whatever you are now>? Really get into this part and visualise your different life. The positive changes of no longer doing whatever it is. Or the fabulous impact implementing a new habit will have. Imagine your new future. See it, hear it, feel it. Look at the outcome from other perspectives – how will your family, your colleagues, your friends be affected by the changes you are going to make? How will you feel when you have nailed this?
3. What will stop me from breaking free from this habit?
Look back – if you have tried to make changes before, what stopped you from achieving your end goal? What can you do to make it easier? What can you do instead of sticking to your old habit? How can you replace your habit with something else, something good that will fulfill its purpose? Stare these obstacles in the face and plan how you will get round them, jump over them or zap them. Really plan.
4. What support do I need?
Support from your friends, family? A mentor or coach? A doctor or therapist? Maybe the support needs to come from within? Maybe the support could take form of reading stories about people who have done similar. Or asking someone for advice.
5. How do I start?
By when do you want the habit to have been changed? Be reasonable with this deadline. Be kind to yourself and give yourself a break here. You don’t just switch a bad habit off. And it is OK to take the time you need to get to the outcome you desire. What can be your first step towards breaking free from this habit?
6. What will the steps from now to my new habit be?
Break it down. In point 5 you decided on your first step, and now you can plan the rest of the trip. In point three you looked at facing obstacles and planned for that. Break your journey down into the smallest, easiest series of steps and changes which will take you to your goal.
Now it is time to start. Start small but aim high, and be kind to yourself every step on the journey. Forgive yourself when you slip up and move on, always keeping the end goal in mind.
I look forward to sharing with you the habit changes I have made and showing how I applied these steps to my situation. But there is nothing to stop you from getting to work on your own.
So, what habits are you going to be breaking free from?