Changing habits is hard. Damn hard. Most people attempt to change habits at the beginning of each year. Most fail. Perhaps because we all attempt grand, sweeping changes in every area of our lives. Does that ever work? I doubt it. If you're like me, you've read enough self-help books that you could regurgitate the information as easily as your stomach rejects a spoiled hot dog.
Throes Of Self-improvement
Yes, you probably guessed I'm tussling with a habit and trying to change it. I won't bore you with my long list of bad habits. I'll just admit to the one I'm trying to change: daily exercise, or, rather, the lack of daily exercise.
Since I began my personal ebook revolution, I find myself chained to the computer. At the beginning of this year, with my daughter on her way to recovery, I vowed to lose the extra pounds I'd gained by stuffing down my anxiety, fear, and grief with comfort food.
Sitting all day is horrible for the body. I know this so I know that I need to tear myself away from the excitement of writing and publishing ebooks and move my body. Not to mention, I don't wish to buy an entire wardrobe because my current one is a bit tight.
So let's talk about self-improvement and exchanging bad habits for good ones. I'll offer up what I've learned from experience, read in books, and just figured out on my own.
What You Say To Yourself
The dialogue you carry on with yourself is of paramount importance. If the little voice inside your head is constantly bombarding you with thoughts like: I’ll never (just fill in the blank with your own personal limiting thought), then you’ll never achieve that, get that, make that happen, or be that.
Common examples: I’ll never lose this weight. I’ll never finish writing this manuscript. I’ll never get an agent. I’ll never publish a book. I'll never get anyone to buy my ebook. I’ll never find true love. Even when you act to the contrary of the limiting thought, you never really believe you can make it happen.
What To Do About Your Dialogue
Identify what your little voice is saying to you. You must know what your dialogue is if you are to tell that voice to shut up. Pay attention to your thoughts.
When someone asks, “Are you still writing?” (A common question from the general population to writers, and the word still always precedes the word writing.) Do you say out loud, “Yes,” while the little voice says, “You know it's no use. You'll never make it. Why don't you just give up?”
Or maybe someone asks, “Are you still working at that job you hate?” Out loud, you may reply, “Yes, I’m lucky to have a job in this economy.” While inside, the nasty voice says, “Yes, you're such a loser. You wouldn't be able to get a better job."
Use Your Brain
You've got a brain so use it. Currently, it's feeding you lies. Once you identify what the enemy inside your head is saying to keep you at status quo, then it’s time to change it. And you can change it by consciously creating new thoughts that counter the old ones.
You see, you can't erase old thoughts no more than you can change a habit. You can create new thoughts and program your brain to feed those back to you at opportune moments just as you can create a new method of behavior that you follow consciously until it has become a habit that takes precedence over the old one.
“I’ll never lose weight / get published / make it as an ebook author / find true love / whatever,” becomes “I work toward my goal of (fill in the blank) every day so every day I am succeeding until I achieve my reward.”
Create your own strong, positive thought that addresses what you want. Tackle one thing at a time. Consciously work with that thought and consciously modify your behavior in the way you wish to proceed. Keep it up consistently for 3 weeks. That's how long all the behavior experts say it takes to make a new habit.
At the end of that time period, it's easier to continue that behavior than to revert to the old one.
1. Listen to the voice that holds you back.
2. Identify what you most need to change.
3. Create new self-instruction addressing the change you wish to make.
4. Write your self-instruction on a 3×5 card and post it in several locations.
5. Review your new self-instruction several times a day and especially at bedtime.
Behavior, a system of habits, can be changed if: (1) you know what you’re trying to change, (2) why you want to change, (3) make a decision to change, and (4) take action.