10 Practical Steps to Habit Changing Success
In the previous article I talked about the best way to create long lasting change. Once you know what you want to do and how to go about it, have a look at the steps below to ensure that you succeed in your change process.
You are probably familiar with most, if not all of the following steps. As you go through the process, try to focus more on motivation and desires, and less on discipline and willpower. The latter will come naturally when needed.
1. Start now.
Whatever you want to achieve, the best time to start is right now. Just go for it and deal with any obstacles as they come.
Don’t spend too much time in your head thinking about every what if and yeah but. You will face inner resistance and outer challenges. Trust that you can deal with them as they arise and get going.
If you need tools to start your habit, get the minimum required. Add more as you progress and feel they’re needed.
2. Start small.
Nothing kills a new effort more than grand unrealistic ambitions. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Start slowly and build up to whatever you want to achieve.
If you want to start an exercise program to improve your cardio endurance, for example, start with short easy intervals. Give yourself at least a few days, and then increase the time or intensity level making the workout slightly harder with each change. Keep challenging your body slowly.
3. Track your progress.
When you are fully immersed into an activity, it’s easy to forget where you started and how much you’ve accomplished.
Going back and looking at your progress on a regular basis helps you stay motivated, especially when you get discouraged and the defeatist within starts buzzing that you should give up. Chances are you have been doing better than you think.
4. Accept challenges and setbacks as part of the change process.
Your transition into a new behavior will not be without pain and obstacles.
When you start working out for example, you won’t feel stronger right away. You will get sore for a few days, and then a few days after that when you increase your intensity. You will only start feeling stronger after a few months of consistent work.
You may have low energy or face unexpected interruptions to your routine. Accept the limitations and move on by taking a few breaths and asking yourself, gently, to get going.
5. If you slip, pick yourself up and keep going.
Forget about 21 days or 30 days. Just do it because you want to. Don’t try to count days and start over. It’s frustrating and doesn’t help.
You are focusing on long lasting change in your life. So continue in your process and try to enjoy it. If you stop, just pick up and go again and again.
6. Time becomes your best friend when you keep going.
It is easy to want to see results right way with changes. But in reality, it takes time to consciously form a new habit. When it comes to changing existing behavior, you will need the same amount of time, if not longer, to undo what was done in the past.
If you want to build strength, for example, you’re not going to turn into a super human in a couple of weeks. It takes time and consistent effort to achieve results.
Time is your ally as long as you keep going.
Most things you start will be challenging and difficult in the beginning, but with time, it gets easier. The more you do something, the better you become at it, and the more you enjoy it.
7. If you slip again, pick yourself up and do it—again.
Repeat steps 5 and 6 for at least a couple of times before you consider step 8. Give your subconscious mind enough time to cope with the change and embrace it as a new part of you.
8. If you slip again, question your approach.
If you have worked your way through steps 5 and 6 a few times and you find yourself struggling with the change, stop. Think about your motivation and approach.
Is it something you really want to do? Is there a different way of doing things? Look at your reasons and determine if you need to change your perspective. Explore options for doing things differently.
For example, if you started an exercise program and tried interval training but continue to find it cumbersome, you might want to explore other types of exercise, like yoga or Pilates. Alternatively, try the same activity at different times of the day, or change your pace or exercise duration. Think about your preferences—on your own vs. taking a class, indoor or outdoor exercise.
You have choices of what to do and how or when to do things that can make a big difference. Don’t be afraid to think of and try new things—sometimes it’s all you need.
9. Give yourself a break.
Don’t be hard on yourself. When you have self-defeating thoughts, allow the thoughts to go through you. Gently remind yourself that you are doing the best you can. If things are not working out, you always have a choice to use a different approach and re-start now.
10. Reflect on your experience and celebrate your progress.
Take time to review what you have done so far and how you feel about it. Acknowledge your efforts and enjoy the changes you’ve made.
It’s in this step that you feel the change is becoming part of your life. Your actions become aligned with your desires and inner and outer motivations. Once you are in this zone, you become unstoppable—you become one with what you do.
To your success!