Habits are a brain game. This time you could come out a real winner.
What is a bad habit? It's something that we do regularly which is counterproductive to leading a life that is happy or healthy. It could be overeating, smoking, lack of exercise, being overly critical, compulsive shopping, or any of an infinite number of unhealthy habits which hold us back. And it's safe to say that all of us likely have at least one bad habit we'd like to change, if not many.
It's also safe to say that many of us have tried to change our habits and have not succeeded. Here, we're going to give you some tips which will help you to make positive changes and develop new behavior patterns.
There have been a number of scientific studies which give some insight into effective ways of changing habits and learning new behavior patterns. Here are some of their findings:
Developing new behavior patterns doesn't happen over night. Scientists have found that when people repeat specific behavior patterns over and over, new brain cells grow extensions (called dendrites) and connect to each other. It's like learning a new skill such as ballet or baseball or piano; it comes to feel natural over time. So when you are working on changing your behavior, expect to dedicate some time to it.
Baby Steps Work Best
Don't try to change everything at once. Perhaps you want to lose weight and get in shape, and you also want to get more organized and learn Spanish. Frankly, that's too much to tackle at once. Prioritize and pick one area to start with.
Studies show that you will be more successful if you are specific in your goal. For instance, rather than saying "I will eat less and lose weight," decide on a specific diet plan, and resolve to go grocery shopping for the necessary foods on a designated day every week. Rather than saying "I will exercise more", pick a type of exercise that you enjoy, such as bicycling or aerobics class, and resolve to do it three times a week.
Know Your Enemy
You need to consider any obstacles to your goal - what has kept you from success in the past? If you want to exercise more but hate aerobics class, find a type of exercise that you enjoy. If you want to lose weight but find that you overeat when you serve dinner to your family, prepare yourself a big, healthy, low calorie dinner every night.
Power Up Your Words - Write It
Put it in writing. Write down what you plan to achieve and how you will achieve it. Keep track of your progress on a calendar that is up on your wall in a place that you see it every day, and also write down the times of your exercise class, or the day you will shop for healthy food, or the nights you will attend Spanish class.
If you follow these steps you will find that you will be able to change your behavior patterns successfully and adapt healthy new habits, one at a time.