Breaking Habits Part Two: Where to Start

Last time, we introduced the topic of breaking habits. This is the second post, following the first.

Changing our habits is no easy feat. To try to change the way we act, think, or do things is challenging because we have gotten so used to our patterns and routines. But sometimes, we get uncomfortable with our routines or habits. We find that they no longer serve us, or are no longer what we need in life. So, we decide that we want to break these habits...but where do we start with this?

In my own life, I found that the first step to breaking a habit is to simply acknowledge that I want to change it. There is something that I don't feel comfortable with about this habit...I am comfortable WITH it - because it is so familiar to me. At the same time, I am uncomfortable with it because I no longer find that it helps me, or is useful at this time in my life. To recognize that there is a NEED for change is truly the first step. It is only in admitting that we WANT or NEED to change that we can begin to take steps towards this.

There are many reasons why we decide to change a habit. It can be because the habit is simply destructive to us, such as is the case with addictions like smoking, alcohol, etc. It can be because although the habit is comfortable, it isn't appropriate for our current life situation. For example, you may have always enjoyed eating salty foods, but now your blood pressure is quite elevated, and your health requires you to cut down on adding salt to your meals. Another reason for change might be because we are frustrated by the effects of our habits. For example, you might be used to buying the latest technology right when it comes out...but each year at Christmas, you find that you do so and are left in debt by the New Year...and this is clearly NOT advantageous. Whatever your reason for change is, one thing is clear: you want to change or break this habit. It may have served you at the time, but where you are in your life now...requires a change.

After you identify what you want to change, you can start to think about what you want to change about the habit...or the steps you need to take to find an alternative to the habit. Let's take an example: you are used to sleeping in until 11 AM each day you have off. However, you noticed that when you get up earlier, you are more productive and have enough time to do things for yourself AND spend time with you friends and family - which you value. But the thing is...sleeping in until 11 AM is comfortable for you...despite the fact that it is no longer effective for you to do so. You so desperately want to change this - you want to get up earlier than 11 AM. But you do it once, and although you DO have more time in your day and enjoy this, you feel a bit cranky at first. You miss your old habit of sleeping in. This new habit, although it has its benefits, is also very hard and somewhat distressing. It is a big change, and change can - and often always is - very uncomfortable. 
So, what do you do? On one hand, you enjoyed waking up earlier because you realized how much more things you were able to do throughout the day. On the other hand, however, making that change was uncomfortable...and part of you misses the old habit of sleeping in. Deep down, you KNOW and FEEL that waking up later is no longer something you want to do. But it is comfortable and familiar...while change is the opposite. How do you cope with this? How do you repeat the new habit of waking up earlier when it is painful and distressing to do so?

The next post will discuss this topic! Stay tuned!

This post's task for you: what habit do you want to change? Why do you want to change this habit - and what are the steps you need to take to do so?

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