Reading Time: 3 minutes and 12 seconds
Are you ready to shake off your bad habits for good?
The final part of the mental spring clean is all about habits. Bad habits can cost us a huge amount of happiness, time, self-esteem and money. Good habits can make our life joyful, peaceful and successful.
Habits are our subconscious behaviour patterns that we act out, often without thinking.
Habits develop as a way for us to deal with the immense complexity of everyday living. They are mental shortcuts that we adopt to make our life simpler.
For example, almost everyone develops a habit of locking their house on the way out. We perform this complex task several times on most days without even thinking. I’ve had a few OCD moments where I thought I’d left the front door open, yet on returning it was locked. That habit is pretty much ingrained.
To end the Spring Clean with a bang, I’m challenging myself and you too.
You’ll stop one of your bad habits, or create a new virtuous one.
I’d love to get 100 of us to experiment and make a lasting life change, so please do leave a comment and take part.
The first step is to understand our habits:
- Think about the bad habits you have. Which one has the most serious impact on your life? How much is this habit costing you?
- Now, think about what habits you’d like to bring into your life. Which new habit would have the biggest impact on your happiness and success?
- Now pick one of these habits, either bad or good, and set a goal to remove it from your life, or create it over the next month.
I’ve selected wasting time surfing the internet as my bad habit and I want to stamp it out for good.
We’ll use a powerful 5 step model for change. I’ll use my challenge as the example:
Step 1: Contemplation. We have to understand the benefits of making the change, and deal with any negatives.
Some of the key questions to answer at this stage are:
- What is your motivation for wanting to change / create this habit?
- What are some of the benefits of changing?
- What may be holding you back from changing?
In my case, I will free up an hour or two a day for the things I really want to do, be more productive and feel happier. I’m held by from change by pure inbred habit.
Step 2: Preparation. This is where we make our plan for successfully introducing the new habit. Good preparation is vital to success and some of the key things to do include:
- Find someone to hold us accountable. I will happily hold you accountable – please just ask.
- Research as much as you can about the habit you want to change – I’ve spent time researching time management techniques and how to beat an internet habit.
- Create a clear plan for change and design a process for monitoring and rewarding progress. I will reward myself every day that I’m successful by using the time I’ve freed up to read for 20 minutes.
- Design contingency plans for “falling off the wagon” and prepare yourself for this happening.
These first two steps may take a few days to a week to complete properly.
Step 3: Taking action. This is where the rubber hits the road. Ingraining a new habit can take several months to achieve and will almost inevitably involve ups and downs along the path.
This step will need you to reward your success and forgive yourself for slip-ups. Be kind and fair to yourself.
Step 4: Maintenance. Once you’ve taken action successfully, you’ll start to see the fruits of your labour.
The key to maintenance is to find ways to avoid being tempted to relapse. I might try turning off my wireless network during the mornings to take away any temptation to surf.
Step 5: Relapse. Old habits die hard. Relapse is a normal and inevitable part of changing a habit. The key to moving through a relapse is to understand the reason for falling down, and to work out the best way to avoid a repeat.
Remembering that almost everyone who has successfully made a change has been through this process can be helpful in forgiving yourself. Once you’ve understood the relapse, it is best to go back to the preparation phase and “get back on the horse”.
Over to you
We all have bad habits we’d like to kick or good ones we have been meaning to introduce. Please play along at home and pick one to take on over the next month.
Please leave me a comment and let me know what habit you are working on and what difference it will make to your life.
That concludes the Mental Spring Clean! We’ve looked at Changing the Story we tell the world, the Games we play and how to win them, Beating the Gremlins in our head and changing habits. I hope you’ve dusted down your attic and found some old gems.
Next up on Less Ordinary Living: Why Work Matters.