Our lives are made up of habits. Things we do, mostly without thought.

We have good habits, such as:

  • exercising
  • choosing natural foods over processed
  • drinking water instead of soda
  • reading to our children
  • calling our spouse at lunch
  • saving money each payday
  • flushing the toilet
  • brushing our teeth
And then we have our bad habits:
  • smoking
  • drinking too much
  • staying up too late
  • sleeping too late
  • watching too much TV
  • biting nails
  • driving too fast
  • spending too much
Each of us has our own battles we fight with our bad habits.

Replace bad habits with good habits

Most of the time we focus on how badly we need to stop doing our bad habits. We try to do so by sheer willpower. And we all know that this can be difficult and the success rate isn’t always great.

We probably did not make a conscious decision to start a bad habit, but it will definitely take a concentrated effort to STOP one.

Rather than just trying to quit a bad habit, many are more successful if they replace a bad habit with a good one.

For instance, if you smoke, and are trying to quit, carry gum to chew, or even better, something healthy like a bag of baby carrots or celery sticks to munch when the urge hits.

If you are not getting to bed early enough to get enough sleep and wake up feeling refreshed, there are several factors involved here. Think about a peaceful bedtime routine, your ideal routine. Maybe a hot bath, or reading a book, or snuggling with your spouse.

Now make a plan as to how you can create that evening routine and begin getting more rest. It will take willpower to turn off the TV or the laptop (and phone, and iPad!) but if you are replacing it with something enjoyable, it will be more easy to do.

Only tackle one habit at a time

Those who write about and study human habits suggest not trying to change multiple things at one time. That is why New Year’s resolution fail so many times, as a person is trying to change and implement 6 things at once.

A much better course of action is to choose 1 habit to change per month. Focus on that one habit, replacing your negative habit with something positive.

The next month, once the new habit (the good one) has become natural, then choose another habit to work on.

Creating a healthier diet, one step at a time

One are where this is very important is in the area of diet. (I don’t mean diet in the sense of losing weight, just referring to what one eats).  Making healthier choices when eating can be a difficult one to maintain, if one is used to eating junk and processed foods. Trying to change everything at once can be very difficult.
Over the past 2 years, I have made several changes in my personal diet.
  • I have stopped drinking soda or iced tea (we drink it SWEET in the South!)
  • I eat probably 3 times the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables in a day than I used to.
  • I have cut 90% of processed foods out of my diet. I very rarely eat fast food, and stick to 2 restaurants that have food that is acceptable to me.
  • Our meals are not based on meat most of the time, and we have several meatless meals a week.
These changes took time. If I had tried to implement them all at once, I would have bombed royally (been there, done that!). And even though I still fight urges every now and again, I very rarely succumb. (I DID NOT say never. I still love tiramisu and have it every few months!)

Creating lasting change in YOUR life

In light of the above post, I want you to think on these questions below. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!
  1. What were your resolutions this year?
  2. Have you been successful so far?
  3. How could you approach your resolutions differently to increase your chance of success?
  4. What habit do you really want to change?