Motivation Monday: Kick a Habit

Each Monday, we're rolling out a new challenge to change the way you think, act, do, or feel. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to be motivated to try something different for a week. And if you love it, keep it going!

 

They say it takes 30 days to kick a habit (or some variant of that number), but so many people fail at changing their lifestyle because it's too much, all at once. The 'cold turkey' method is well-known as a poor way to change your behaviour. Instead, phased steps are a great way to phase out something in your life that's maybe not the healthiest. This week, we're challenging you to take one of those steps toward booting a bad habit to the curb. 

First up, make a list of what your worst habits are. Do you bite your nails? Binge on a particular food? Smoke? Spend money on something frivolous? Act a certain way that you know is holding you back? Stay up late reading or on the computer? Watch too much TV?

It's okay if you have lots on your list. It's also okay if you only have one or two things you'd like to change. Whatever the case may be, pick one of those habits that you think is having the greatest negative impact on your life.

Next, think about the extreme version of you beating that habit. For example, if you drink ten caffeinated beverages a day, that may be drinking one, or even no caffeinated drinks. Generally speaking this model will apply to any habit you're trying to beat - either completely eliminating it from your life or making it a negligible part of your life. 

Now, if the thought of never having the sweet taste of coffee in your mouth runs chills down your spine, your next step is to think about whether that extreme version of the habit is worthwhile. If it's something that will ultimately make you miserable (like no coffee, ever!), then feel free to ease up. If it's something that will truly have a powerful impact on your overall well-being (like quitting smoking or saving buckets of money by eliminating a hard cost), then great, you've got something to aspire to.

But for the next seven days? It's as easy as scaling back from that extreme level and cutting back at least halfway. Surprised that we didn't say just take one step forward? Trust us. For your first week, try to challenge yourself to cut back on your bad habit by a significant amount. If you smoke a pack a day, stretch it out to two packs for the week. If you watch 30 hours of TV a week, cut it back to 10. If you go to bed at 2 a.m., try winding down at 9 p.m.

The reason? Cold turkey is hard. Baby steps are a slippery slope to reverting right back to your old habits. A semi-extreme measure over a set period of time does three things. First, there's an end in sight. You can do anything for seven days. Just imagine you're in a foreign country where your favourite vice isn't available. Secondly, it gives you a long enough test period to assess what worked and what didn't in eliminating your habit, and to readjust your end goal accordingly. Finally, come next week, you have a choice. Let yourself fully indulge again, and see if you now feel like you're overindulging. You'd be surprised how cutting back opens you up to how easy it is. Alternatively, if week one went okay, then keep on working from there to kick those bad habits once and for all!

September 28, 2015 8 tags (show)

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