We humans are creatures of habit, therefore to develop
good habits should be simple - right! Well, not always.
problem is that we get very comfortable in doing things the same way
each and every day. We usually stick to a daily routine without having
to think about it or taxing ourselves too
much on what we're doing. So why change?
Unfortunately, not all of our habits are good or healthy for us. If we
are in the habit of coming home after work each
day and reaching for an alcoholic drink to relax instead of getting on
the treadmill to let off steam, it will adversely affect our health.
Or, if we're in the habit of snacking on chips and drinking pop
while watching television in the evening instead of munching on
veggies and sipping on fruit juice, it will ultimately also have
undesirable effects. If we smoke to relieve stress and anxiety, or
over-eat, or take our frustrations out on others, these are all habits
we must consider changing or eliminating if we want what is good for
us. Where do we begin?
7 Seven Simple Steps to Develop Good Habits
1. Identify the habit. As mentioned, most of the time we are no
longer aware of our habits, good or bad, so the first thing we
need to do is become conscious of what they are. If that cough has
been getting worse, or if we become winded after merely walking up
a few stairs, there is a strong probability that a bad habit
(smoking, sedentary lifestyle), or a lack of a good habit (exercise) is to blame. Maybe our finances are in disarray, which
means that we've been in the bad habit of spending more than we
earn, or not practicing the good habit of maintaining a budget and
sticking to it. It's time to take a good look at the habits we
2. Make the decision, and then the commitment to change. Of course,
this is easier said than done. How many times have we said to
ourselves, "Yes, I should exercise more and eat better. Not
to worry, I'll get around to it sooner or later?"
Unfortunately, procrastinating just makes it harder to change a
bad habit. The longer you put off taking action, especially where
health is concerned, the unhealthier you, or the situation, will
get. A conscious commitment is necessary because that's what it
takes to get the wheels of motion in action.
3. Discover your triggers and obstacles. If you don't know what
your triggers are, or if you are unprepared for the inevitable
obstacles, you will set yourself up for failure. In order to develop
good habits, we must be aware of what our habits are. All of us, in
moments of weakness and vulnerability, need support or a release for
our frustrations. Reaching for alcohol, drugs, over-eating, or
over-medicating is not the answer. If an unpleasant incident takes
place at work or a messy traffic altercation occurs on the way home,
you have to find a healthy alternative to your usual way of dealing
with it. We all have bad days, but we need not resort to unhealthy
habits to alleviate the stress. Likewise, we cannot let boredom,
anger, fear, or anxiety be triggers for bad habits either. Look for
healthy ways of dealing with triggers and obstacles.
4. Devise a plan. Benjamin Franklin had a great plan for overcoming
his bad habits and replacing them with good ones. He developed a process whereby he
listed 13 virtues he felt were important in his life and then
proceeded to work on them. He focused on one virtue per week for a 13
By the end of each week he felt he had mastered the bad
habit so he proceeded to the next one the following week.
process he kept a journal of his success with the virtues. Since some
of the virtues helped facilitate the acquisition of others, he put
them in a particular order beginning with temperance because "it
tends to procure that coolness and clearness of head, which is so
necessary where constant vigilance was to be kept up."
work well for anyone who is trying to establish a new good habit -
vigilance is indeed needed to make sure you stick with it! After
temperance he worked on silence because knowledge could be best
obtained "by the use of the ears than of the tongue."
Franklin had rhyme, reason and purpose for every virtue.
He figured that to develop good habits keeping order would free him up for the things he
really wanted to accomplish in life. His resolve, once it became
habitual, would help him remain focused in order to implement all the
Here for the fun of it is Benjamin Franklin's list of virtues. You can devise a similar list for yourself to help you
incorporate good habits
into your lifestyle.
The List of Virtues which Benjamin Franklin incorporated
into his life:
Temperance - Eat not to dullness; drink not to
Silence - Speak not but what may benefit others or
yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
Order - Let all your things have their places; let each
part of your business have its time.
Resolution - Resolve to perform what you ought; perform
without fail what you resolve.
Frugality - Make no expense but to do good to others or
yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
Industry - Lose no time; be always employ'd in
something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
Sincerity - Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and
justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
Justice - Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the
benefits that are your duty.
Moderation - Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries
so much as you think they deserve.
Cleanliness - Tolerate no uncleanliness in body,
clothes, or habitation.
Tranquility - Be not disturbed at trifles, or at
accidents common or unavoidable.
Chastity - Rarely use venery but for health or
offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
Humility - Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
5. Employ visualization and affirmations. Visualization
and affirmations are great for integrating the new
habit into your routine. While visualization is a powerful
motivational tool and energizer, affirmations program the
subconscious with the right mindset for establishing a new habit.
Together they allow you to feel and imagine yourself carrying out
the correct behaviors making it easier to adopt the new habit.
Certainly developing good habits is easier when employing
visualization and affirmations.
6. Enlist support from family and friends. Let people know what
trying to accomplish. This way they will understand if you want to
pass up the desert or go for a walk instead of stopping at the pub
on the way home. When your friends know you are serious about
changing a bad habit into a good one, not only will they help you
steer away from temptations, they will cheer you on and give you
moral support. We all need support in achieving our goals!
7. Find healthy ways to reward yourself. One of the reasons we
develop many bad habits in the first place is because they make us
feel good, even if it's just temporarily. The experience of
feeling good is meant to soothe or placate us when we're stressed,
dejected, or just plain out of sorts. For example, you might over-eat
and feel really good while doing it, but then you feel twice as bad
afterwards. The same goes for smoking or drinking too much. While
you're in the act you feel relaxed and trouble free, however,
afterwards you feel remorse and vow to quit - soon. So, in order to
minimize falling off the wagon and slipping back into old,
detrimental habits, reward yourself when you've done well. Treat
yourself to a new book, a movie, a concert, or new exercise
equipment. If you're short on cash, visit a friend you haven't
seen for a while, go to the downtown art gallery, or enjoy a skinny
The wonderful benefit of developing good habits is that
after doing them repeatedly, they soon become automatic. Anything you
do for a long while and consistently enough eventually becomes a
habit, and once it does, you no longer have to put much effort into
it. Such is the beauty of it when you develop good habits!