7 Steps To Overcoming A Habit
Get off to a SOLID Start
Notice I didn’t say, “fast start”. That would be easy to do. I could give you our book and say, “Here you go, GOOD LUCK” and if you fail, well that is your fault. But I don’t believe in luck, I believe in strategy and sticking to it. That is why I call this a solid start. I want to make sure that you are planted on solid ground ready to go after the 7 Steps and accomplish your goal. You will do that by preparing first and getting off to a right start.
I know you probably want immediate change, so do millions of people who make New Year’s Resolutions and because it was done on a whim without preparation it only lasted a short time. Seven steps of preparation won’t hurt you. In fact, it will give you the impetus to really do it!
Step 1 WHAT IS YOUR HABIT GOAL?
It is surprising how many people try to stop or start a habit and never stop to think strategically about the goal they are setting before them. Let’s see if we can zero in on what you want to change.
CONSIDER THIS - Do you need to start with a mini-goal?
A mini-goal can help you get going. Here is my rule of thumb. If you are stopping a habit, jump all in! If you are adding a new habit, consider a mini-goal.
What is the goal you want to add? Start off with a small, achievable increments, then increase until you get to your goal.
Step 2 Secondary habits and substitutes
Creating a new habit or extinguishing an old one is not an easy task. It just doesn’t happen by itself. It takes planning and preparation.
Now that you know what your goal is--what could get in your way? There are many saboteurs waiting to trip you up. Many come in the form of what I call secondary habits.
Secondary Habits – Most of the time a habit doesn’t sit in isolation. It is surrounded with other habits that work in harmony with it. Consider the case of eating sugary treats. Ask yourself…
When do you eat them?
Where do you eat them?
Who do you eat them with?
What kind do you eat?
What mood are you in when you crave them?
What are you thinking when the craving hits?
What are you believing when you try to resist?
If you look over your answers to the questions above, you will note that some of the answers are predictable and consistent, they are habits! Therefore, it makes sense that if you can change some of these secondary habits, it will help you resist and overcome the habit you are seeking to change or add.
So, what secondary habits might you need to work on?
Write them down with a plan on how you are going to behave differently in order to change your habit goal.
Step 3 - PICK YOUR TEAM – Get the support you need
You have your habits listed and have chosen secondary goals that are needed for each one. Now you need to get a support team around you.
Step 4 - Tools and knowledge – start learning now
There is a learning curve in any worthwhile endeavor. Adding a new habit or changing an existing one is no exception.
Knowledge – There are many materials that you can find on our website and other internet sources. Our course , Habit Challenge (or the book) would be a great start. There are books, videos and online articles that you can study. Be careful however. You can also get what is called, “Paralysis of analysis.” This is where you have information overload and never get about making changes.
Tools – Often there are apps that can make a difference in your success or not. We have created the Habit Challenge App that comes with out Habit Challenge course. How often we approach a project and become discouraged because it is taking too long where the right kind of tool could reduce the time spent and be more encouraging to you as you attempt to succeed at your habit challenge. Like knowledge you can distract from your goal by having to learn new tools or to try out different ones. There is a time for research and experimenting to stop and move on to the habit challenge.
Step 5 Do’s, Don’ts and Desires
When you consider habits, whether it is one that you are adding or one that you are taking away there are always behaviors that are more important than others. These key behaviors influence others and if not taken seriously can ruin your whole effort. You need to consider what behaviors you don’t want to do, those that you do want to do and how to keep the desire and motivation strong so you can accomplish your goal.
What is the habit goal?
What behaviors do you need to eliminate in order to succeed?
What triggers (Places, people or things that would cause you to begin the behavior that you are trying to eliminate or cause you to veer from the habit you are starting.) do you need to negate from your life?
What thoughts would cause you to sway from your habit challenge?
Write down the things you need to do to succeed at your goal.
Desire is what makes it all happen. What are the desires you are really seeking after? What emotional payback would there be from accomplishing you goal? What pleasure, confidence, emotions would accompany the reaching of your goals? What physical rewards might there be? Is there a monetary potential that would be the result of making your goal? Are there any Spiritual benefits that would be the result of you achieving your goal?
We are wired for reward so it makes sense to use the anticipated reward as an incentive when your discipline is weaning or you become discouraged. Rewards vary. They can be of an emotional, physical, monetary and/or spiritual nature. Take a few moments and think of the rewards that you will benefit from when you accomplish your habit challenge.
Spend a moment visualizing yourself succeeding and reaping the various rewards. Let it sink into your heart and bring you real joy. Keep this list in front of you. Perhaps there is a picture, drawing, a song or something symbolic that will be reminded of your desire and hopefully reignite it. If so keep it somewhere that you can encounter it often.
With this deep desire in your heart recommit yourself to accomplishing your habit goals.
Step 6 The Habit Formula
The Habit Formula is basically:
Trigger (Cue or Stimulus)
Reward (Gain or Benefit)
The following are some ways of dealing with habits and cravings
A trigger is what gets us going with our habit. It can be in our environment, our body or in our mind. It could be something we see, hear, smell or feel; something we sense or something we perceive or think. When the trigger happens then we have our response. This is what the trigger is driving us toward. It is what we need to do in order to gte the reward we are seeking. The reward is what we gain from participating in our response. There are different ways we can affect the habit formula in order to change our behavior.
Change the TRIGGER
A. Recognize the trigger (sensation)
B. Change the meaning of the trigger by renaming it as a false alarm
Change the RESPONSE
A. Relax, you are not going to die!
B. Affirm that you do not have to obey the false alarm
Change the RESPONSE
A. Distract yourself
B. Ride the wave
Change the REWARD
A. Visualize better behavior
B. Visualize a better outcome
Step 7 Trigger Management
Habits don’t pursue us 24/7. Rather, if you track your behavior you will find that your habit challenges are stronger at certain times than others. It is the mixture of time, people and places that make up the perfect storm. You can gain a lot of ground in your quest to change your habits and crush your cravings if you focus on those “triggers” and create--and rehearse--a plan for managing them ahead of time.
Manage emotional reasons that trigger your habit
Manage the situations you live in
Manage your residence
Manage where you work and frequent
Your appearance (If it plays into your habit)
Triggers are real but with good planning you can manage them!