In my own course of life, I have come to a core realization that has helped me reach my goals and dreams in any endeavor (be it at work, a personal goal, or in a relationship). I understand that making a profound positive shift in any area of your life requires you to make a profound shift in your habits. It is all about adopting the right kind of habits, replacing old patterns of destructive or unproductive behavior that does not yield the results you want. This is why I would like to share with you an extremely efficient and reliable method of personal improvement in order to change a habit.
If you think about it, habits determine our character as human beings. In Wikipedia, a habit is defined as “an acquired pattern of behavior that often occurs automatically”. A habit is a routine behavior, repeated regularly, and often unnoticed by the individual. An action becomes a habit, when you start doing it unconsciously. This means the habit involves the larger and stronger part of our brain - the subconscious.
That is why very often we may consciously want to do one thing, and actually end up doing something else. This can become an undesirable trait, or a bad habit. The overall objectives of personal growth, reaching our goals, and increasing our productivity rest on the adoption of useful and good habits into our character and subsequent behavior. This is valid for all areas of life!
Where’s the difficulty in changing a habit?
This adoption of useful and good habits into our character is not an easy task and many people find it tremendously difficult. The reasons are endless, but one of them is that the average person wants quick decisions and expects immediate results. Changing a habit takes time and perseverance.
Another major mistake is the natural tendency to want to change too many habits at the same time, habits that have built up over years. From experience I can say that this is the route to failure, usually followed by disappointment and frustration.
As I say - this is normal and you are not alone. We are all alike. Even the most disciplined and motivated people face great difficulties when trying to change a single habit, let alone more than one.
The solution requires a change of approach.
Important conditions for a change of habit
Before we get started, we should clarify some important points. I know that if I ask what habits you want to change in yourself, you could list at least 5-10 things, in multiple areas of your life.
However, I want you to choose only one area. It should be the most important to you; one that you are really motivated to change, that you will make the conscious decision to change.
For sure it may not be easy but at this stage try not to think about that. As soon as we bring in the idea of change the thoughts of doubt are there too. That is totally normal and not a problem. If you can think the thought of change, then you can focus there and make it happen.
A 21 Day challenge
I'm sure you've come across a new product offered on a free trial basis. Afterwards you have to buy it if you want to continue using it. This is a well-proven and effective sales technique that relies entirely on you acquiring a habit - the habit of using the product.
We are going to use a 21 day technique to change an existing habit. Take a calendar and count 21 days ahead starting from your first day - we recommend a Sunday. During these 21 days, you must consciously focus on what you want to change. And nothing else. Forget what other people say or do around you; they are allowed their own habits, but you don’t care about that.
For example, suppose you have decided that for the next 21 days you will eat healthy. This will be a killer if you are accustomed to rewarding yourself with sweets. It hurts just to think about it. Okay, but you'll only do it for 21 days, and then you can go back to a treat now and then.
In fact, we have just hit upon the power of this technique. The reason we don’t want to do something new, maybe instead we can just postpone doing it indefinitely, is the thought that we will have to do it forever. Forever is a long time. It is too long to think about. Instead, we should put a reasonable limit on the exercise. That way you have an acceptable compromise between the old and the new instead of a mental conflict.
So, for 21 days we will cope with the change of habit. Try it for only 21 days, and if you do not feel better for the change, if nothing has improved, then you can go back to your old ways. You are exempt for having to cope with a “forever” change.
Guess what happens after 21days of "testing"? You will have introduced a new habit into your character, a new habit that now is part of you. Healthy eating is the new normal. You will not want to eat the cupcake especially when you look at your new waistline; you may even find yourself continuing your program longer.
What makes this exercise interesting is that although you can return to your old way of life, you won’t want to do it. In fact, it would be difficult to go back.
If you try this experiment but don’t succeed or the results are not what you hoped for, don’t worry, it was not a waste of time. Stop and ask yourself again: "What is the one thing that if I changed, would have the biggest impact on me." This second time around it really is likely to be a big thing.
Here is a summary of the most important steps and actions to get you started:
1. Decide you want to change yourself.
2. Specify what is that one thing you would change to have the biggest impact on you.
3. Get a calendar and count ahead 21 days starting from the first day.
4. Consciously make that change an essential part of every one of those 21 days.
5. After 21 days, decide if you have changed and if it is the desired effect. If not, return to step two and try again.