The old saying goes, “Old habits die hard.” Well, it’s true, isn’t it? It is tough to break a pattern that we have had for years. These habits can be small or large. They can be a behavior or relationship. Whatever it may be, we realize that it is no longer serving us, it is stifling us and preventing us from being our best self. Worst of all, it has a daily nagging ritual that cannot get out of our thoughts, emotions, or actions and it makes us feel badly about ourselves.
It’s Spring. It’s time for the new. It’s time to break bad.
Bad habits are meant to be broken so that we can grow stronger, learn from them, and certainly put a plan in place so that they never return again. For me, the biggest habit I ever broke was quitting smoking over a decade ago. See how I did it in my video.
To kick off the Spring Cleaning Challenge series, I want to share my Five Steps for Breaking Bad (Habits):
1. Identify the bad habit you want to break. It should be something that nags at you, feeds negativity into your life (thoughts, emotions, actions, etc.). Chances are it also impacts someone else negatively too.
2. Write it down in a journal. There is great power in writing and it makes us more likely to achieve our goals. Write your answers to these questions and list every possible answer until your mind goes blank:
- Why do I want to stop _________? Why does this bother me
- How is this affecting me now? Who else is it affecting?
- What lies am I telling myself so I can keep doing this?
- What would my life look like if I stopped doing this? Stopped lying to myself?
- What will it take to quit doing this?
- How will I feel when I’ve stopped doing this?
3. Set a goal. (Make it S.M.A.R.T.) SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Worthy of its own post (and it will be in the future), this is an important step. This is important to make sure that your goal of breaking a bad habit becomes the good of your new reality.
4. Take small, achievable steps. Just about everything in life takes small, winnable steps. When I trained for a marathon, I repeated 1-2 mile runs for the first two weeks. Once I was good at it, I added a third – and so on and so forth. If it’s managing mail instead of dumping it, your first goal may be to spend one week dealing with the mail right away, and then adding on a second, third, fourth week.
5. Celebrate your progress!!! As a constantly recovering perfectionist, I vehemently believe in progress not perfection. Perfection stands in the way of the beauty that comes from imperfection – and progress is movement. Perfection often creates a feeling of never wanting to get started, because of the misconceived idea that starting it will result in imperfection. So, be proud of yourself for your progress!
Once you figure out your personal formula for breaking bad, repeat, repeat, repeat. Only with repetition will be it become an incredibly GOOD new habit. Plus, you’ll be amazed how it changes how you feel, and how you think.
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Upcoming Spring Cleaning Tips:
- Tip #2: Ditch Negative Thinking (April 2)
- Tip #3: Overcome a Fear (April 9)
- Tip #4: Clean Your Room! (April 16 )