Most of us have tried to change our habits before, at least for the usual things, drinking, eating, smoking, and exercise. It can be quite a challenge. While not as obvious, all of our habits resist change. Here are seventeen tried and tested ideas that have helped others achieve personal change
- Make a list of all the things you will end up with, or have to cope with if you don’t change.Extend your imagination into the future and experience how you will feel when these things come about.
- Make a list of all the things you will gain or experience if you do change.Extend your imagination into the future and experience the joy of your accomplishment.
- Play to your nature.With regard to the change you are contemplating, which motivates you more, the prospect of success or the fear of failure? Do you mostly think about things going wrong or things going right? Are you better at avoiding danger or do you like a little risk in your life? If you favour caution, use the negative list in suggestion 1. It will help you more than the positive list. If you like to be on the frontier, make more use of the positive list in suggestion 2.
- Visually destroy the habit you want to stop.Habits are literally enhanced connections between brain cells. The more you do something, the stronger the connection. It becomes like a furrow. If you have ever pushed a full wheelbarrow along a furrow, you know how difficult it is to turn the wheel out of the furrow. See yourself doing the thing you hate. Visualise the scene as a cartoon and then scratch it out, repeatedly, until you destroy the unwanted connection.
- Visually modify the habit you want to change.Disconnect one end of the connection in your mind and reattach it somewhere else. Visualise what happens and change it to what you want to happen. Re write your memory repeatedly until the new habit is established.
- Keep a record of how many times each day you do the thing you want to do.Do only this. Make no effort other than to observe yourself doing it right.
- Keep a record of how many times each day you do the thing you want to stop.Do only this. Make no effort to stop other than observing yourself doing the wrong thing.
- Find the fear and feel it. Know it. Pour it out and discard it.Fear hides itself quietly in the background so that we cannot name it and banish it. It sneaks around and nudges us away from our true path. It is subtle and clever and lives in disguise less we see it for what it is, false evidence appearing real. Find it and cast it out.
- Wallow in the triumph of success.Feel as you will when you have completely mastered the change you are seeking. Know taste of victory over yourself. Count the benefits of the change as already yours. See your better self and hear the praise. Make the command to your unconscious mind undeniable. Make it so.
- Get help from others.Declare your intent to those who care for you. Better still, tell your enemies. Make it public so that you dare not let yourself down.
- Break it up.Divide it into small chunks that you can swallow with ease and with perfect elegance. Don’t try to eat the elephant all at once.
- Smell the roses.Reward yourself along the way. Take grace from all signs of progress. Notice when you are ‘on course’ so that you can notice when you are ‘off course’ and take corrective action.
- Write it down.The process of writing forces clear articulation of purpose. Even if you never show anyone or even read it again, the act of writing it down will act on your resolve.
- Try Google or your favourite internet search engine.Using the term, “personal change” in quotes, I got 368,000 references. Most of the stuff on the first page was relevant and free.
- Examine your beliefs.What beliefs do you hold that contradict the change you want to make. What beliefs support your planned change. Examine them closely. Some apparent beliefs are mere wrappers that we use to hide less comfortable yet more strongly rooted tenets.
- Examine your values to make sure that you are not trying to make a change that contradicts them.Ask your self the question, ‘what is most important to me in life?’ Make a list of all the possibilities and re order your list according to importance.
- Make a list of the consequences to others of you failing to make this change.Think of the indirect as well as the direct consequences. If you won’t make the change for yourself, resolve to make the change to benefit others.
Prepared by Clive Miller