Wednesday, September 14, 2011

5 Tips for Breaking Habits

Last year, when we began researching the concept for loopchange, we did an awful lot of research about the process of changing habits, the methods people had found to be successful and we stumbled across an awful lot of sketchy information.  Also in that time, I was constantly attempting to perform my own case study using myself and some friends who agreed to be voluntary lab rats for the "cause."

Through my own successes and failures, here is what I've found so far:

1 - Committing to a change of some kind is HARD.  Your first battle will be fought before you've even begun.  You can safely expect a barrage of reasons that you can't do it, that the timing is wrong, that next week would be better.  You've got to tell that voice to shut up!  I believe that subconsciously that is our 'fear of failure' rearing its ugly head.  Failing hurts.  Failing publicly can be humiliating.  Our deepest being knows that, and wants to keep us away from such 'risks'

 2 - Write down your goals.  Be specific and include details.  Vaguely defining your goal leads down the path of failure.  How, exactly, are you going to change your diet?  How much TV will you allow yourself to watch?  The more details that are provided, the more likely the person is to succeed.

3 - Accountability.  At loopchange we help to connect you with people who will be holding you accountable.  Don't get me wrong though, our community is made up of people who honestly CARE about your progress.  They aren't checking in on you, waiting to pick, poke, prod and point fingers.  They are checking in on you so that you know your mission is important to them (because it is).  Finding some real world accountability helps a great deal as well.  Tell a friend or a family member what you're doing.  Ask them to help if it looks like you're struggling.

4 - Encourage other people who are trying to change something about themselves.  I cannot stress the value of this step enough.  The word 'encourage' originally, literally meant 'to put heart into'.  To build someone up.  There is a fascinating phenomenon that occurs when we encourage other people - we feel encouraged and stronger ourselves.  It's fascinating, but true.

5 - How long will it take to change?  The only scientific research I've found on the topic says 19+ days (where the + can be 200 or more days).  There is no set answer, but it will take exactly as long as it will take.

Using my own experience, I've come to believe that the commitment, faithfulness, dedication and will to change is very much like a muscle.  As you get a few successes under your belt and build up your confidence a bit, you'll find that you become significantly stronger in those areas.  When you've faced and completed a mission to change something, it will be much easier to tackle something else.  Before you know it, what started as a scary, anxiety filled experience will become something that you are excited about - and you will find that you'll gain so much momentum that you will be changing left and right.

But it all begins with that single step.  You have to find a way to ignore that voice in your head telling you it's not worth it - because IT IS!

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