You have made a vow to change your habits and you started strong, but it didn’t take long for your motivation to fade away. It doesn’t matter how many times you make promises to yourself; you always seem to break them. So, how can you change habits that aren’t working for you? Broad declarations will never work. Real change comes from action and action stems from plans.
Make Your Plan
Don’t spare the details when you make your plan; it should be as vivid as it is concrete. It should detail exactly what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. It should include every step you need to take to change your habit. Do you want to quit smoking? How do you plan to do it? Think about it in detail. You increase the likelihood of success when you outline your actions. It puts the thought into your head and influences your behavior, and it might be on your calendar sparking you to take action. It’s easier to visualize something when you have concrete plans.
Visualize Your Change
Create a detailed visual in your mind—fantasize. Often, this is a powerful enough charge to trigger changes in your behavior before you even get started with your plan. Numerous studies have found that professional athletes use visualization to improve their performance. Try it; you shouldn’t underestimate just how powerful your thoughts can be in triggering a change in your life.
It Starts Small
Baby steps are the only way to start. Just like when you learned how to ride a bike as a child, you probably started with training wheels. Changing habits is the same. You have to walk before you can even consider running. So, focus on the small steps and don’t take a new step until you have the last one down pat. The worst thing that you can do is try to quit something cold turkey. It’s easy to slip back into old habits and then let go of any changes you did make. Remember, those small changes add up to major change when you allow them to.
Prime & Process
You can’t just try new behaviors without first introducing them. So, before you try to make a change you should try and expose yourself to it. Think of it as a walk-through. Think of it as a prime to repeat this good behavior. Remember, the easiest way to change bad habits is to replace them with good ones.
It’s normal to confuse reward and requirements. As great as the outcome is, it’s important to focus on the process. Sitting down to work daily on your writing is not the same as a published book at the end. You have to have a schedule that works and that also rewards every success. We are designed to desire major changes and big wins. The truth of the matter is that small behaviors create big changes and it happens over time, not immediately.
Motivation is wonderful, but it often doesn’t last long. You need to have a plan in place to deal with those moments when motivation escapes you.