Transforming Habits to Transform Your Life

If you’re anything like me, you have a bad habit or two.

And if you’re like me, you might not always be very nice to yourself about it.  It’s maddening repeating the same old cycle of trying to be better, backsliding, beating yourself up for said backslide, and then slowly trying to be better again.

Stop being so hard on yourself.

The thing is, a habit is a regular part of your life, and disrupting that familiarity means work.  Just because we struggle with it doesn’t mean we’re lazy—choosing the path of least resistance is naturally ingrained in us.  Conserving energy is a huge survival tactic among all living beings, so it makes sense we tend to lean towards easier choices.  Making better, less familiar decisions means more effort—and your survival-programmed brain just ain’t about that life.

Luckily, your best self is all about that life.  All you have to do is retrain your brain to work that way, and then it becomes second nature.

And you will.

It’s really not as hard as it may seem.

What’s harder is continuing to disappoint yourself month after month and year after year.

Like the quote above says, one of the key ways to break a bad habit is to love something else more…and I’d like to suggest that you make that “something else” yourself.  Love yourself enough to make this positive change.  Stop seeing it as a battle and start seeing it as an exciting transformation, an opportunity to be more of the person you’ve dreamt of being all along.

Below are all of the steps I’ve taken in bettering some of my own habits.  My hope is that at least a few of them can help you in your own journey.

Do Some Brainwork: First and foremost, you have some things to consider and identify.

  • Why do you keep returning to this habit? Find the roots of the issue and address them.
  • What are the benefits of changing this habit?  Focus on these positive things rather than the struggles.  It makes the process a lot more pleasant!
  • Decide on the good habit you will replace the bad one with. For example, instead of drinking alcohol, drink flavored water. Instead of napping all the time, go for a walk or call a friend when you’re tired.  Be creative and have fun with it 🙂

Some ESSENTIAL daily maintenance:

  • Visualize/write down aspects of your best self every day. When you remind yourself daily of who your best self is, you’re more likely to make decisions that your best self would make.
  • Monitor your negative self talk and replace it with positive self talk.
  • Regularly seek out motivation. The Internet is a great place—I don’t care how obscure your issue is, if you Google it, there’s a pretty good chance someone else has worked through it and can share some insight. Youtube is my favorite for this!

Plan for your weak moments:

  • Have a backup plan to turn to when you’re tempted to return to your bad habit.  For example, you may have a backup plan of going for a walk.  Have those tennis shoes and comfy clothes out and ready so you have no excuses!
  • Remove triggers/temptations from your environment if there are any.
  • Write yourself a note that reminds you of your goals—a sort of pep talk for yourself.  If you’re not good at that, find some motivational videos or quotes that help get you back on track.

Oh, and when you do mess up?

  • Forgive yourself. Don’t waste your precious energy beating yourself up. When you constantly criticize yourself, it clouds your judgment and makes decision-making more difficult—meaning your chances of messing up again are more likely.  So simply forgive yourself—it’s more pleasant and it’s more productive!
  • Keep moving forward. Learn from it and then continue making the good decisions you were making before that.  Life is not about being perfect.

Remember: Making this decision from a place of love and patience with yourself is the surest way you will succeed.

Always focus on the fact that you are transforming your habits in order to lead a more fulfilling life—it won’t be this hard forever. Just like you exercise your muscles to make them stronger, you have to consistently make better decisions for them to come naturally as a habit to you.

You’ve got this.