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Shaping our everyday activities and even how we feel about ourselves, habits can either make you or break you. New Year’s resolutions are similar to trying to break a habit. We have a goal in mind, we prepare tools to help us succeed, and we make an effort to keep up the goal. So why do most New Year’s resolutions and attempts at breaking a bad habit fail?
Willpower and strength to stay away from temptations decreases. As a result, motivation generally decreases, leaving us caving into our past and forgetting all about our goals.
Dreams of reaching the finish line are also given up so easily. Say you want to start eating healthier. You start to eat fruits and vegetable every day for two days. On the third day, someone brings donuts into the office. Can you have one? You have been doing so good so one donut won’t hurt, right? All it takes is being okay with that one donut for you to be okay with ice-cream later on and then pizza for a midnight snack. Considering you are eating vegetables, you are okay with having the donut because you are still eating healthy at other times.
Achieving goals and forming new habits don’t work this way.
Caving in is all too easy when you are comfortable where you are. You give up trying to reach a goal because it seems unreachable or you are satisfied with something in-between where you are at the moment and the goal you are trying to reach.
Chances are, you are not quitting because you set a goal too high; you feel like quitting because you have not set appropriate steps to achieving that goal. Breaking a bad habit might take longer than forming a new one, but in the process of forming a new positive habit, you are slowly breaking the bad one along the way. Set a goal, and follow these steps to break bad habits and form new positive ones for the long term.
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Patterns don’t take hold instantly. It takes time for a pattern to become a pattern or for an action to become a habit. Pretend you drink everyday (at least once), and you have a goal of completely becoming sober from drinking alcohol. Instead of quitting cold turkey and suddenly stop drinking, meanwhile putting yourself at risk for withdrawal, it is easier and more efficient to limit yourself to smaller drinking patterns. Setting small goals such as only allowing yourself one drink today with dinner rather than a drink with every meal makes it easier to follow and easier to track how well you are progressing in your goals, therefore motivating you to continue your journey.
Staying away from temptations is a lot easier than you think. You contribute to your addiction or bad habits when you put yourself in familiar places where your triggers are present. The world is full of fun activities; you don’t have to be limited to a bar or a pill to have a good time. If your friends try forcing you to come out and drink or do drugs with them while you are attempting to get sober, then be honest and upfront with them. Good friends will help you achieve your goal, not set you backwards.
How bad do you want to be successful at breaking a bad habit and forming a positive one? Use that strength to remove temptations from your life. Certain people also trigger giving into our habits. Avoiding these people and their influence is the best solution to getting away from any triggers they may cause. Out of sight, out of mind.
Finding something similar to your bad habit can help you easily replace it. If you only have the choice to give into your habit or stay at an equilibrium, your habit will likely influence your choosing. If you have two choices, one new choice and one old choice, you have a better chance at picking the new choice that will help you form a positive habit since it puts you at an elevated level compared to where you were before.
For example, when someone who uses drugs feel stressed, they are more inclined to use the drugs than to not use the drugs and deal with stress on their own. Using the drugs puts them at a higher point than before but not using keeps them at the same stressful level. Instead, if you have the option to use drugs or go for a walk to get rid of stress you might pick going for a walk since the walk will likely de-stress your mind and body and put you at a better state than before.
If you drink alcohol when going out with friends and want to get sober, try a new non-alcoholic drink. You will still enjoy having something in your hand and tasting a good drink (keeping the same patterns as before), but this time it won’t be giving into your bad habit. As you start to replace your bad choices with better choices, you will likely reach for the better choice first, without even contemplating it!
Loving yourself is a big key in removing the chains your addiction or bad habits have locked you into. Fighting the need to use or give into your habits can be very exhausting, often resulting in caving in. This is where a strong mind and strong love for yourself comes into play. When you are in that moment, ask yourself, “Will this really better me? I love myself too much to give into this habit that will only make me feel temporary pleasure, while putting me at a worse state for the future.” Love yourself enough to stop yourself from doing damage to your present and future. You are responsible for your actions and the consequences that comes along with them. Stop and think about how your decisions will truly affect you, and only then should you make the decision.
We’ve all made mistakes in the past. Today is the day to learn from them. Take hold of what you know has resulted from those bad decisions. Do you want to relive that pain over and over again? Keep your goal of what new habit you want to form or what habit you want to break in mind, and stick to achieving it one step at a time.
Once you learn to live without your habit, you won’t feel the need for it in your life anymore. Take control of your body and your mind. You are in charge; you have finally unlocked the chains. You are free.
You have to start somewhere. Get up, and start today.
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