Breaking Habits

Habits are incredibly helpful in our lives.  Having some things on auto-pilot frees up our brains to think about other things.  Most of our habits serve us, but sometimes they don't.  Ensuring that our habits are continually serving us and not impeding our success is extremely important.  

When we realize that a habit of ours is making it more difficult to accomplish what we need to, it's time to make a change.

Changing habits can be a difficult thing.  After all, they are the things we do automatically.  Sometimes we just don't think about it until we are in the middle of it and then we think, "dang it!".  

It merits being aware that most habits kick in as a result of a trigger.  For example, a trigger and habit that I have noticed in my life is that after I eat a meal, I want chocolate.  The meal is the trigger.  The chocolate craving is the habit.  If I don't eat a meal (which happens rather a lot), then I don't have a chocolate craving.  

If I chose to battle this habit, there are a few ways I could go about it.  The most popular way to change a habit is to just stop.  So, after a meal, I just resist eating chocolate and eventually the craving will go away.

 This is a difficult thing to do unless you set yourself up for it.  

If you consciously decide that this is the way you want to break a habit, then you have to consciously prepare.  I could do that by ensuring that there was no chocolate in the house and tell others to not let me order dessert at a restaurant.  Then, after my meal, if there's no chocolate to be had, I couldn't possibly engage in my habit.  After enough dedication to this program, the craving and the habit will fade.

Instead of refraining entirely from a post meal treat, I could change my treat.  Instead of eating chocolate, I could grab some fruit.  While initially less satisfying, consistency will train my brain that the fruit is the treat I want and that I accept it as a suitable replacement.

While this doesn't necessarily work for my meal and chocolate example, a third option of overcoming a habit is to remove the trigger.  Since eating is life sustaining, I should probably resort to one of the first two options.  However, if my habit is that I get lost in social media first thing in the morning because my alarm is on my phone, I could battle that by using an alarm clock and keeping the phone away from the bed.  If I kept the phone out of my hand for as long possible, I would delay the indulgence of social media until I'm ready for it.

Each method has it's merits.  If you have a habit that needs breaking, pick one that appeals to you and try it.  If you're unsuccessful, keep trying new things until you over come it.  Next week we'll chat about intentionally establishing habits that will get you to where you want to go.  

You have a purpose, your habits should help you get there.