Changing Behaviors

Have you ever taken a moment to think about your bad habits? Or maybe someone has pointed them out to you? Have you told yourself a thousand times “I should quit that or stop doing this?” Most people can answer yes to the above questions, me included. No one is perfect or can be “perfect” all the time.

Now, take a moment and think about that one thing you really want to change. Whether it is to quit smoking once and for all or maybe you need to cut back on the sugar and give up candy or that daily Mountain Dew. Maybe it’s not something related to your physical health – maybe you need to stop being so hard on yourself, give yourself more acceptance and grace, maybe you need to stop saying “no” and try new things. Whatever the case may be I want you to think about your surroundings. Do they enable your current situation? What can you change in your environment that might help?

It’s important to understand the presence of a situation causes the behaviors! For example if you are trying to eat healthy but there are donuts on the counter you are setting yourself up to fail! Proximity effects the extent to which you engage in a specific behavior. Both visibility and convenience matter! So this means we need to fix our bad environments to help us change our negative behaviors and thus meet our goals. Think about how you can promote healthy environments – leave yourself notes or reminders, keep a journal of your progress, surround yourself with people who want similar things as you.

So now that you understand situational support let’s talk about actually breaking those habits. So you have a goal in mind – make sure it’s specific and attainable. Visualize yourself succeeding – think about the goal, see it, see the obstacles and know how you will overcome them. Knowing you obstacles is crucial in completing your goals. By knowing potential things that could and will get in the way you can create a plan for how you will overcome. This is called implementation intention – a strategy in the form of an “if then” plan that can lead to better goal attainment. For example, IF I’m trying to quit smoking and a friend starts smoking around me, THEN I can excuse myself to the restroom or another place away from that environment. Another example could be IF I’m trying to cut out pop and I stop at a gas station (where I’m known to purchase a fountain pop or two), THEN I will pay for my gas at the pump and not go inside.

By creating these plans and using this method we can break habits, create new habits, and change our behaviors and routines. We all want to do better, be better, but we all need tools to help us get there. Stay positive and commit these tools to memory. And remember, YOU are worth it, and you CAN do it!

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