Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ch Ch Changes

I came across this definition of change and wanted to make it the basis of January's blog posts.

become different in some particular way, without permanently losing one's or its former characteristics or essence

I thought this was a pretty good way to explain the kinds of changes that we try to make every new year, as some call them, resolutions. We will have a near impossible time making changes that lose our essence or former characteristics. We are who we are for the most part. When we make New Year's resolutions, we are usually trying to make ourselves better in some aspect while maintaining our identity.

I thought I would start our January series talking about something we all have. BAD HABITS! We all do something we wish we did not do. I can think of a list pretty quickly of some things that are considered bad habits that people might like to work on.

  • smoking
  • drinking too much
  • lying
  • biting nails
  • being messy
  • disorganization
  • being late
  • procrastination
I am sure you can think of 20 to each of the items that I have listed here. If you would like to break a bad habit in the new year, here are some strategies to get you started. I should start by saying there is no magic cure to stopping a behavior. It is always hard work and being completely deliberate that gets something to stop. A bad habit is often so ingrained into you that you don't even realize when you are doing it so stopping it will require work.

The first step to breaking a habit is to look at why this habit is so fulfilling for you. In everything we do in life there is a payout. If we got nothing from it, we wouldn't be doing it. Let's look at lying as an example. If you are constantly lying about things in your life perhaps there are people you are trying to impress or maybe you don't want to get judged by others. Think hard about why you are doing the habit first. This will be paramount in stopping this habit.

The second step to breaking any habit is to figure out what you are losing by having this habit. The minute we label our habit as a bad habit, it means there is something undesirable about it. In the above example, maybe lying means that no one really ever knows you and you don't have anyone to go to with problems because you would have to go back and tell the truth to someone you already lied to. This could be problematic for sure. Also, it is very hard to keep up lies and you have to tell two lies just to cover the first one. Exhausting in my opinion.

The next step is to CHOOSE. A lot of people feel like life happens to them but I am not one of those people. I think we often choose our behaviors and reactions to situations. In the case of lying, now that you know the payoff to doing this and the losses, you can choose to be honest or choose to lie. Each time that you are in a situation where lying would be something you would do, you must stop and make a choice to be honest.

Now, in any plan you have to place something in your life to replace that habit or behavior. In the case of lying, maybe every single time that you have a desire or start to tell a lie, you stop and give yourself 10 seconds of silence and try not to talk in order to avoid the lie and think of a more honest reaction or statement.

A great way to keep track of your progress is to keep some sort of log of how you are doing. This may mean writing down the lies that you tell each day and trying to figure out how to be more honest in those situations. Also, figuring out who it is you lie to most will help you work on that relationship to make it more genuine and authentic.

At the end of the day, it is all about choices. You are now aware of your habit, why you do it, why you don't want to do it and how to choose differently. If you like feeling good about yourself, you will continue making good choices, however, if you feel that the payoff is better, that is what will continue. Try to find a bad habit you can break this year and be honest with yourself and patient because they took time to become habits so they will take time to be undone.

Happy New Year To you and check in tomorrow for our next post on changes!

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