Develop Good Habits in 7 Simple Steps
We humans are
of habit, therefore
good habits should be simple - right! Well, not always.
The 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
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
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 engage in!
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
3. Discover your triggers and obstacles.
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,
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 week period. By the end
of each week he felt
he had mastered the bad habit so he proceeded to the next one the
During this 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."
This will 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
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 other virtues. 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
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,
- 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
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.
people know what you're 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 latte.
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 developing
Quotes on Habits
Positive Habits to Develop
- The Foundation for Success