Most of us have habits that do not provide long-term benefits. Habits like chewing nails, stress eating, constantly checking our phone, or yelling at the kids to get their attention. Most of us think that changing habits is difficult. Fortunately, we are all in total control of our actions. Wait, does that seem possible for habits? They are habits, right? Things we do without thinking? Well, sort of. Habits always start as choices. And for habits, those choices were in response to a need, a stress, or a new environment. For whatever reason, the action seemed to meet the need (at the time) and so we kept doing it. Which changed a choice into a habit. The good news is that we are still in control of our choices, and there are a few fun choices you can make to change a habit.
You need to notice every time you do your habit. So, pick a ridiculous name for your habit and talk out loud about it every time you catch yourself. Chewing your nails? That could be a “chompin’ Charlie”. Smoking? Perhaps “toxic breath sucking”. Stress eating? Maybe “food frenzying”. Whatever you pick, make it something memorable.
As soon as you notice yourself choosing your habit, stop and say out loud “Whoops, I’m toxic breath sucking”. Hopefully, you can at least smile when you say this, and for advanced level naming try adding a chuckle or a snicker. The idea for changing habits is to be very aware of the habit without being too hard on yourself. If you can find your sense of humor, it can be easier to kick the habit.
Every habit is an attempt to meet a need. It will not do much good to stop the habit without replacing it with something else that is a healthier way to meet that need. Since stress relief is a common goal when choosing habits, find another thing you can swap your habit with that will help to relieve stress (or whatever need you are meeting). You know all the usual choices: go for a walk, deep breathing, calling a friend, visualizing… If these are good swaps for your habit, go ahead and choose one.
When changing habits, you can also get creative and have fun with this. Weight training is a great stress relief, so maybe you can bench press your office chair a half dozen times after you have noticed your habit and called yourself on it out loud. The rest of the people in the office will be delighted with your new strategy and an excuse to stop work for a few minutes and stare at you. Some other options could include headstands, playing an instrument, singing a song, or Facetiming with your dog.
Now you get to be like one of those elite athletes that visualizes a whole race in their heads before a competition. Sit back, relax, and mentally put yourself in different situations where you have done your habit. Once you are there in your mind, imagine yourself naming it, swapping it, and making that old habit shrink into nothingness. Spend a few minutes every day on this fantasy sport. It helps to program your brain into changing the habit.
Sometimes we get no credit for all the good things we are doing. If you are working hard to change a habit, and you are calling it out loud, and swapping it with a great alternative, and practicing, finish up with a celebration. Either after every time you choose to change the habit, or at the end of every day when you have named, swapped, and practiced during the day. Give yourself credit for making good choices, having fun, changing your habits, and ending the day with success.
Did you know fun is one of the 5 Basic Needs that everyone has? If you would like to learn more about having fun, making great choices, and finding happiness and success, then we would love to connect with you! For more information on our Internal Empowerment training. You can join many amazing students who are doing great things with their life—and having fun doing it!
IECAST is a 501 (c)(3), Public Benefit, non-profit organization dedicated to perpetuating productive and mindful individuals, families, and organizations. We bring this vision into reality by developing diverse, internally empowered leaders who use the principles and practices of Choice Theory® as taught through the Internal Empowerment Coaching program. Our goal is to teach individuals, families, and organizations to reframe, reorganize, and reallocate resources to become effective coaches and leaders.