Do you ever feel you don’t have any self-control, that your impulses are driving your behaviour? In other words, are you taking actions in a lot of areas in life, but not in the areas that you say are important to you? Remember that we are all made up of our habits. If you want to change your habits, it takes commitment and a conscious practice until the new behaviour becomes a new habit, which supports you. Did you know that it takes 30 consecutive days to change a habit?
For example, you may have set up a goal of wanting to spend more time with your family, but you keep allowing work to get in the way. In this situation, the natural habit is spending extra time doing work. The first step in changing this habit is to design a new behaviour (action) that will allow you to spend more time with the family. For example, you might allocate Sundays to doing something special with the family, plus you could agree to turn off the phone so that you can fully enjoy the experience. Make sure you communicate this plan to your family so that they can help keep you accountable to your commitment.
I work with many people who want to also have a life outside of work, yet the recurring pattern I see and hear is that they never seem to get on top of things and before they know it, time goes by and they miss out on a lot of what’s important to them. The most common things I hear people say they want to spend more time on are; exercise to improve their health, fitness and increase energy levels, spend quality time with their wife/husband, time to listen and play with their children, quality time with family and time out for themselves.
Notice how easy it is to spend time doing the unimportant things first. You may be concerned about the paperwork that has built up and think that ‘if I just get on top of this one, then I will make time for me and my family’. What do you notice happens? Do you continually feel like you are never on top of things? If so, take a look at the three simple steps on how you can change habits that do not support you in the next section.
The 3 Steps to Changing Habits
Step 1 – Awareness
The first step to change is becoming aware of your habits and what your triggers are. Most of the time we are so busy ‘doing’ life that we do not take time out to become aware of who is it we are, what is it we are doing, how we are doing it and why we are doing it. You will never become aware if you keep on doing whatever you are doing, without becoming consciously aware of your actions. Awareness is the first major step towards change. Once you register your awareness, then you can go to step 2 to accept and release your habits.
Step 2 – Accept and Release
When you become aware of your habits and triggers, it is only then that you can accept and release the habits that do not support you in your life. You accept and release a habit purely by stating that this habit does not support you in your life and you choose to now let it go. It is easy to be attached to a habit because this is the only way you consciously know how to manage your life. The good news is that you taught yourself through habit in the first place and you can choose a new habit at any time. It is normal to feel as though you are stepping into the unknown because that is exactly what takes place in the releasing of habits. This takes us into step 3 of re-creating a new habit to replace the old habit.
Step 3 – Re-Create
This is the fun part, of re-creating your habit. It is important to remember that when changing a habit you must replace it with a new, consciously supportive habit. Consciously choose the new habit you would like to start practising in place of your old habit.
Let’s say your old habit is ‘not listening to people fully’ and you are always ready to speak over them, even before they have finished saying what they wanted to say.
You then may decide for your new habit, that every time someone speaks to you, you will stay totally present, listening to what they have to say – and that you will only answer them after they have stopped speaking. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Try it yourself and notice what happens. The next time you are speaking to someone, you will probably jump right into the conversation and repeat your old habit. You then might walk away, noticing that you did it again and didn’t fully listen. The second time you notice, you want to jump in and you catch yourself. Great, this is the power of becoming consciously present to your actions and reactions. The third time you will become fully conscious and choose your new habit at the beginning of the conversation.
To speed up the process of re-creating yourself, take on the practice of visualising yourself living the new habit in its perfect form now. See yourself being the person you want to be and see yourself having the results you want.
Become aware of your habits and choose new habits that support your energy and focus each day. The list below may give you some ideas on where to start looking.
- Communication challenges
- Career you do not like
- Not clear on your direction
- Health problems
- Money challenges
- Never enough time to do the things you want to do
- Always feeling under pressure
- Not always being honest
- Lack of energy
- Family problems
- Lack of confidence
- Lack of commitment
- Being overweight
- Being argumentative
- Always worrying about something
- Giving too much to other people
- Sense that you have to get ahead
- Plan to get fit but never do
- Always wanting to be in control
- Feelings of being lonely
- Comparing yourself to others
- Feelings of not being worthy
- Weak and submissive behaviour
- Aggressive and dominating behaviour
- Not allowing other people to support you
- Not being organised
- Not doing what you say I’m going to do