Creating & Changing Habits
Here are my 9 tips for creating and changing habits. Whether your aim
is to get rid of unwanted behavior patterns or you are interested in
the benefits of creating new habits, these should help.
These ideas come from a professional standpoint but also from
someone who understands the challenge of changing habits. I have an
artist rebel girl part who sometimes sabotages plans that look too much
like routine or habit. (She can still get caught in an old naive feeling
that it will stifle her creativity.)
Despite my aversion to routines, I do understand the advantages
of establishing healthy habits so, I choose to stretch beyond my
resistance. If you have a rebel part too, don't fret and certainly don't
give up. Try the following:
- Write it Down: Outline your plan just like for any other goal.
- Vision Based: Make sure the habit you are creating is tied to your larger vision for yourself. This will help you stick with it. Visualize
yourself inhabiting the new habit often. I say inhabiting because the
more you can dwell in the quality of the experience of your life once
you have the new groove, the more likely you will be to follow through
with keeping the commitment.
- Use Positive Reframes: If you are trying
to stop an unwanted habit, consider what it is you want to be doing
instead. Intend to do the positive form of the behavior you are
attempting to de-habituate. Its easier to create a new and different
habit than to stop an unwanted one, replacing is often easier than
- Set Intentions rather than Expectations: Intentions move you forward, expectations can engender fear of failure and set you up for disappointment.
- Choose to Make it Fun: Set up a fun
reward for yourself or get a good friend to join you in the effort. Find
a playful metaphor to assist you and to help tease the rebel part
along. Or, find a way to turn it into an adventure.
- Use Small Steps: Habit rabbit hops
help you inhabit the new behavior. Practice, practice, practice! To that
end, logging in a notebook or on a daily habits form can be helpful.
Oh, ps. don’t try to tackle more than one habit at a time.
- Be Aware of Possible Impediments:
Know your vulnerabilities, consider ahead of time and plan for things
that could trip you up or throw you off course. Note your warning signs,
have a safety plan, alternative behaviors, ways to manage the
situation. Many unwanted habits stem from self soothing or defensive
behaviors that are no longer desirable. Develop a list of healthier
things you can choose to do instead.
- Be Kind Yet Firm with Yourself: No
beating yourself up but, don’t give up either. Persevere, If you lose
the groove and fall off the plan, begin again. Eventually you will form a
new groove and the new behavior will become habit. Refresh yourself by
thinking of all the positive consequences of adopting the new habit.
- Get Support. Use reminders, post its,
timers or write a schedule in your calendar. Join a meeting, a group,
or a class, tell friends or associates, get an accountability buddy/
power partner, study buddy or hire a
There is no need to keep struggling to do it alone.
"What is the 21 day rule?"
Some experts say it only takes 21 continuous days to create a new
habit. For most people and most habits it is more complex than 21 days
of repeated behavior but its a great place to start. For those with
rebel parts or if you haven't thoroughly incorporated the belief about
your ability to maintain the habit, you could still lose the groove. Be
prepared that it could take longer than a 21 day period of conscious
effort to establish the habit. Eventually you will get there. Think
habit rabbit hop and persevere.
These tips are meant to assist with changing habits. If you are
struggling with drug, alcohol or other forms of addiction, seek
professional help for your unique and specific needs. These tips are
meant for educational purposes only.
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