Change one habit at a time
It’s easy to get caught up with “overnight” transformations but when it comes to changing your habit; it’s more effective to tackle one habit at a time. When you address one habit at a time it allows you to get rid of (avoid) overwhelm and allows you to focus on the habit you want to change. The less overwhelmed you are, the more likely you are to replace your bad habit with a good one. If you don’t replace your bad habit with a better one, you are more likely to keep doing the same bad habit. For example, people who stop smoking may replace it with snacking (research). Many people smoke when they feel stressed, so if they have replaced smoking with snacking, depending on their lifestyle, too much snacking can lead to unwanted weight gain. So instead of replacing smoking with snacking, it would be healthier to journal about emotions or take a walk.
Identify your triggers
We all have routines and habits that we have developed over our lifetimes. In order to change and replace a bad habit with a good one, you need to know what the habit is and what triggers this pattern. For example, when you are stressed do you reach for a glass of wine and a gallon of ice cream, if so you know that your trigger is stress. There is nothing wrong with treating yourself but if you are stressed and unhappy all the time, then you need to identify what is causing the problem, instead of using food to drown your feelings.
Work through emotions
Many habits that we develop are linked to our emotions especially when it comes to emotional eating. Instead of eating to mask and drown your emotions, face them head on. When you feel stressed, instead of reaching for food or alcohol, reach for a journal instead and write down what you are feeling and why. This will help you identify underlying emotional triggers and limiting beliefs that may be keeping you from the transformation you want. In some cases, triggers may be linked to childhood trauma, and you should work with a licensed counseling professional to address and face those triggers.
Identify the new habit
Before you can move forward, you need to get clear about what you want to replace your bad habit with. Many people want to change new habits without creating new habits to replace the old habits with. Without this you can’t move forward to create a plan that will help you get closer to your desired transformation.
Create a plan
Now that you have identified the habit and triggers that you want to change and have identified the underlying feelings that are linked to your triggers, you can create a plan to replace your habit with a new one.
Planning just to plan does not get results, just look at the percentage of people who keep their New Year’s Resolutions. They want to get healthy, but few are clear about one specific thing that they want to change, what will replace it, and what they’re willing to do on a day-to-day basis to reach their goal. Lack of clarity makes it difficult to reach your desired transformation.