This time of year, everyone starts to look at their lives and some of us decide to change things. One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. Another is to quit smoking. Eat right. Work out more (or at all!). The list of resolutions made is long and usually, unfruitful. By the time February comes, most of these resolutions are broken and forgotten. The reason many people fail at their New Year’s resolutions is that they are looking at it all wrong. Trying to accomplish something difficult without breaking the negative habits that got you into the situation to begin with is like trying to get out of a traffic ticket by crying, wheedling, begging, bargaining, or arguing.The best way to get out of a traffic ticket is to stop whatever it is you are doing that will earn you a traffic ticket! Stop speeding, running red lights, or making illegal U-turns! You have to bring this same attitude when you want to break a bad habit that is causing negativity in your life.
The first step to breaking a negative habit is to find a word or phrase that stops the desire to engage in the negative habit. Whenever you feel the craving for a cigarette or a big box of chocolates, or if you start making excuses to not work out, or whatever your particular vice or habit is, just say your chosen word or phrase and stop that thought, craving, or excuse in its tracks. Sometimes, when the thoughts are strong, you may even want to say your word or phrase out loud to make the impact even more pronounced.
The second step is to tell people you trust about your new goal. When you tell your friends and family that are you trying to break your negative habit, it helps keep you accountable. If your husband knows that you are trying to quit smoking, you are much more likely to abstain from smoking when he is around, because he is counting on you to quit so that you’ll be healthier. If your mother knows that you are trying to stop gossiping about other family members, when she starts telling you about Aunt Martha’s embarrassing moment at her work party, you can remind her that you don’t want to gossip, but you’ll be happy to discuss something else with her, she’ll respect your decision. If you are trying to lose weight, letting your office mates know is a good idea, since goodies, snacks, and treats are a common gift or reward. Since they’ll know about your goal, you won’t have to turn down kind gestures and fight the temptation to give in and scarf all those cookies, donuts, or potato chips.
Finally, you have to be willing to forgive yourself if you slip up. Negative habits are not easy to break. If it were easy, no one would have them! Realize that you are only human, and that as long as your overall progress is good, a few backslides aren’t going to ruin all the hard work you’ve done! Forgive yourself for the slip up and get back on track to break your habit for good!
Breaking negative habits can be a challenging and rewarding endeavor, you just have to tackle it with optimism and positivity. You can do it!