Wouldn’t it be great if you could get rid of all of your bad habits? And how would it feel if you could start up a load of positive new habits as well? Because changing your life sounds pretty big and scary but changing a few habits sounds alright, doesn’t it?
Habits, or behaviours, are the output that control our lives. They control our emotions, our state, our ability to succeed or fail, they give us structure to our day, and they can either take us into the places that we don’t want to go, or the places we do. When you think about it, nearly everything is controlled one way or another by our behaviours. So, wouldn’t it be a good idea to know how to change these so that they are actually working for us rather than against us. Some people succeed despite their behaviours, and they spend ten times as much energy pushing against the tide using will power and discipline as their weapons against their hard life. It doesn’t have to be this way though.
I have mentioned in previous posts the importance of knowing what you want in life. This is the beginning of everything. You have no chance of getting somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going. Spend some time really getting that cornerstone in place, and keep it there. You have to keep reminding yourself of where it is you’re going because you’re bound to swim off course when you put your head down.
But let’s assume that your goal is this beautiful, articulated, compelling image, that is held at the forefront of your mind. Now, what’s it going to take for you to get there? I’ll give you a clue. Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is a person that does the same thing over and over again and expects different results.” In other words, if you don’t change what you do then you’ll probably end up back where you are. You have to change your habits and behaviours so that they are more aligned with where you want to get to.
Habits and behaviours are only good or bad in the eye of the beholder. Society conditions us to thinking that certain habits are bad, i.e. alcohol, smoking, no exercise; but it obviously depends on what you want to achieve. If you want to be the best smoker the world has ever seen, then don’t give up smoking. Only you can decide which habits are a problem for you; those that prevent you from getting where you want to go. Equally only you can decide which habits your future self needs to be the person you want to be.
There is an exercise that you can do with yourself which will help you identify what these are. You should imagine, or visualise, or dream (which ever word works best for you) your future self. You should watch him/her walking around, engaging with other people, doing the things that you want to be doing, and make sure that you are watching them in the video. Then you must put yourself in to their body and watch what the world looks like from their eyes, see how people react to them, and how good it feels. Do this exercise regularly, daily if possible, and really reinforce how good it feels.
Once you have a clear understanding of the type of person that you want to be then you can get working on changing those behaviours.
- Don’t get giddy.
- Take one at a time.
- Start slow – 5 minutes a day – and build up.
- Don’t overload your life with complete and sudden change, it’ll never last.
- When one habit feels pretty secure, then start the next one.
- Try adding one a month. Most people will probably have ten high level habits that they would like to add or remove so in less than a year you could have changed your life.
If you rush in and get over ambitious then the new, desirable habits will be doomed to failure and you’ll wind up back where you started from. This is the common reason why diets don’t work. Once the initial excitement has evaporated, and taken with it the motivation and discipline, then you fall back into what you know best. It’s unconscious, and unless you learn how to control the messages that your unconscious mind relays to your conscious mind, and therefore your behaviours, then any change you make will be temporary.
Follow these guidelines with a small habit and see the results. If you bite your nails, then replace the urge with 5 mindful breaths each time you notice that you’re about to do it, and bring back the image of your future, non-nail biting, self. If you fancy meditating then practice for 5 minutes a day at first (at the same time of the day if you can), and gradually build up to where you want to get it to. Once you have realised some success with the smaller things, then bring the big guns in and start to change your life.
If this has helped and you are interested in finding out more about how you can start changing your life, then please sign up to this blog, or follow me, or visit www.clearlantern.co.uk.