How To Change Your Life One Habit At A Time

Habits suck!

They take a huge amount of time to get working in the first place and if you later find out that they do not serve you (anymore) you can’t get rid of them so easily again. You end up doing stuff you don’t really want to do, but can’t stop doing. It’s like a drug (or at least sometimes it feels like this?) to which you always feel drawn towards again! This whole “addiction” makes change nearly impossible!

Media and all this weird bloggers (like me) talk about changing your habits and cultivating the habits of highly productive and successful people. Wake up early, exercise a lot, get creative, meditate, get rid of all the toxic stuff in your body, don’t feed your brain bullshit, read, manage your time effectively, work hard, work a lot, but don’t forget to relax, and balance your life, also try to be social, don’t cut yourself off from your friends, (that would be weird!), work on your relationships, live in the moment, but plan for the future, forget your past, handle your emotions,.. The list goes on and on.

I guess you can say doing all this might feel a little bit overwhelming.

So, what now?

Well, this is where habits actually come in handy.

What they really can do best is to free you from all the thinking which has to be done. When you have cultivated a new habit for yourself and it sticks, you don’t have to participate in the active thinking process anymore. The habit does it for you. It just goes on without you. You are no longer needed here. Bye!

I recently read in an article (can’t remember where it was) something about this topic and it says that 99% of our thoughts are literally the same we had the day before. We don’t really think a lot of new stuff each day. Well, kind of a shocker hmm? We are actually pretty dumb!:) This is also the reason why actually breaking out of a habit is so difficult. You are most of the time not even conscious about the fact that it is a habit.

You are not even conscious of most of the actions you do each day. Do you always know how you got into the office? I caught myself more than once just reading a book and moving from my place to my work place. There was no conscious decision from my part. Same goes with driving the car. I just did it (somehow). Don’t ask me which route I took, it was automatic. It wasn’t me. And here is the problem: how could you change something which you are not even aware of?

Break the habit loop.

You can read a lot about habits and how to break them. I would definitely recommend you to read The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. If you are interested in this topic, you will love this book. But I can also just give you my two cents on it and the “little trick” I use to change all my bad habits and replace them with new and better ones. Maybe you are interested in this as well.

1. First of all: don’t rush it. The list above sounds cool and stuff, but you will not be able to change everything at once. You just cannot do it (and I do not say this to challenge you). Your body can change like 2-3 habits at a time, that’s it. It’s evolution. You don’t fuck with evolution!:) Trust me, just pick one single thing you want to change and tackle it. As soon as you are in the “right mode” you can do more.

2. Write down everything. As I said before, you have to make yourself conscious of your actions again, before you can change. Therefore write down everything you do. Analyse your daily schedule for a week or so and write down your daily tasks. Everything you do. Make a complete list of your typical average week. This will give you great insights into your habits, your daily routines and will highlight areas where you can improve. If you tend to come up with excuses like “I don’t have time for this!” this might be extra handy for you, because you will soon see that you are literally wasting lot of time in-between! You just didn’t notice it yet!:)

3. Reinforce your greater vision for yourself. Although writing stuff down in itself is already a great solution (because it brings a lot of consciousness and awareness to your daily tasks, which might already cause you to change some patterns), you can also try to “catch” yourself as soon you find yourself in an unwanted habit loop. As soon as you feel an urge to do something dumb and you have put some awareness to it (because you have written it down so nicely before!) you can stop and watch yourself right there. In this moment you can actively decide against it. What usually helps me a lot is to reinforce my greater vision for myself. “Is this action bringing me closer to the person I want to be in 10 years from now or is it moving me away from this vision?” This little question alone is enough for me to say no to whatever my bad habits try to force me into doing. Try it for yourself.

PS: If you still find yourself can’t make yourself break out of it and resist, you might have to work on your vision itself. Is it compelling to you? Do you believe that it is even possible (this is a big one, because if you don’t believe it, it has no power)? How much are you willing to sacrifice to achieve this vision for yourself? How do you believe you would feel when you achieved this very thing you are dreaming about? Do you believe that it is worth pursuing? Are you willing to cut back now for bigger results later?

Ask yourself these questions and let the answers be your motivations.

(Photo: Flickr)

Stay connected:
  • Ayzelle Matudio

    I tried writing my daily tasks in a week. And to my surprised, I am literally wasting my time watchingTV and cleaning my room. In a bigger perspective, there’s nothing wrong with giving myself a time to be entertained in front of my TV and it sounds good cleaning my well organized room every day. BUT I didn’t realize that I am spending 5 hours watching TV and 2 hours cleaning my room every day. 7 hours X 7 days = 28 hours per week. WOW! And now, I am still wondering how Adobe Photoshop works? I should have spent my three and a half hours to self study Adobe Photoshop or even attend a workshop. The writing down activity is a MUST! Try it yourself. Breaking a habit will start from you.

  • Thomas Mondel

    Yes, the hours in front of the TV easily add up. At first, you just take a short break and suddenly several hours have passed and you actually not really spend time consciously or productive.