Changing Bad Habits: Step By Step Guidelines and My Personal Example
It’s much easier to change an unhealthy habit when you have a clear strategy or other healthy habit to replace it with. Having a void is much more challenging.
Here’s what to do:
Grab a pen and notebook or open a digital document – whatever you can keep handy to you most days.
Now write down the answers to the following questions for each unhealthy habit you have that you wish to change.
1. What unhealthy habit is holding me back from what I want to do, be, feel, look like?
2. Why doesn’t this habit work for me?
3. What justification do I tell myself now to allow me to continue with this habit?
4. Is this justification really true?
5. What is my new strategy for changing this unhealthy habit or bringing in a new healthy habit to replace it?
Here’s an example I made up:
1. What unhealthy habit is holding me back from what I want to do, be, feel, look like? I snack on chocolate and nuts after lunch.
2. Why doesn’t this habit work for me? I feel guilty and heavy. It overtaxes my digestion and I don’t feel light, balanced, or vibrant (which are the feelings that I want to experience in my body). It makes me feel like a flake in my work because it goes against what I believe and teach. It puts me out of integrity with my beliefs and my values.
3. What justification do I tell myself now to allow me to continue with this habit? I eat healthy meals for the rest of my meals so it’s not that bad. All the chocolate is dark, vegan and raw. Nuts are good for you in a certain quantity.
4. Is this justification really true? No, because there is still a lot of sugar, fat, and unnecessary calories. I don’t feel as well as I do when I don’t snack on stimulating heavy foods.
5. What is my new strategy for changing this unhealthy habit or bringing in a new healthy habit to replace it? I will buy fewer of those foods. When I decide to have chocolate or nuts, I will eat them away from my laptop, with full awareness. I will enjoy each bite, instead of swallowing it down. I will not feel guilty about eating them occasionally. I will be aware of the true desire of my body when I have a craving for something sweet: is it the need for a break from work, a need to something exciting, a need for pleasure… Based on the understanding of my true need, I commit to do my best to meet that need.
It’s much harder to make unsupportive choices when you are this conscious. That’s not to say you won’t. You very likely will. But you will be much more aware and that is the very important first step.
Do this exercise for any unhealthy habits you have and keep referring back to what you have committed to. You know there is one particular habit that you keep circling back to even though it is not good for you. Get clear on your justifications. Ask yourself: What do I get from this habit? What dos it give me. Find another way to meet that need. Commit to feeling your best and treating your body with love and compassion. Changing old patterns and behaviors is a must on this journey to your best version of self.