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Blog 3 of 4: The Zen of Changing Habits

Thursday, June 26, 2014

11. Plan a support system. emoticonWho will you turn to when you have a strong urge? Write these people into your plan. Support forums online are a great tool as well — I used a smoking cessation forum on when I quit smoking, and it really helped. Don’t underestimate the power of support — it’s really important.

12. Ask for help. emoticon
Get your family and friends and co-workers to support you. Ask them for their help, and let them know how important this is. Find an AA group in your area.
emoticonJoin online forums where people are trying to quit. When you have really strong urges or a really difficult time, call on your support network for help. Don’t smoke a cigarette, for example, without posting to your online quit forum. Don’t have a drop of alcohol before calling your AA buddy.

13. Become aware of self-talk. You talk to yourself, in your head, all the time — but often we’re not aware of these thoughts. Start listening. emoticonThese thoughts can derail any habit change, any goal. Often they’re negative: “I can’t do this. This is too difficult. Why am I putting myself through this? How bad is this for me anyway? emoticon I’m not strong enough. I don’t have enough discipline. I suck.” It’s important to know you’re doing this emoticon.

14. Stay positive. emoticon You will have negative thoughts — the important thing is to realize when you’re having them, and push them out of your head. Squash them like a bug! Then replace them with a positive thought. “I can do this! If Leo can do it, so can I!” :)

15. Have strategies to defeat the urge. "NOT PLANNING IS PLANNING TO FAIL."
Urges are going to come — they’re inevitable, and they’re strong. But they’re also temporary, and beatable. Urges usually last about a minute or two, and they come in waves of varying strength. You just need to ride out the wave, and the urge will go away.

Some strategies for making it through the urge: deep breathing, self-massage, eat some frozen grapes, take a walk, exercise, drink a glass of water, call a support buddy, post on a support forum.

16. Prepare for the sabotagers. emoticon
There will always be people who are negative, who try to get you to do your old habit. Be ready for them. Confront them, and be direct:

you don’t need them to try to sabotage you, you need their support, and if they can’t support you then you don’t want to be around them.

17. Talk to yourself. Be your own cheerleader, give yourself pep talks, repeat your mantra (below),

and don’t be afraid to seem crazy to others. emoticon We’ll see who’s crazy when you’ve changed your habit and they’re still lazy, unhealthy slobs!

18. Have a mantra. emoticon
For quitting smoking, mine was “Not One Puff Ever” (I didn’t make this up, but it worked — more on this below). When I wanted to quit my day job, it was “Liberate Yourself”. This is just a way to remind yourself of what you’re trying to do.

19. Use visualization. emoticon
This is powerful. Vividly picture, in your head, successfully changing your habit. Visualize doing your new habit after each trigger, overcoming urges, and what it will look like when you’re done. This seems new-agey, but it really works.

20. Have rewards. emoticon emoticon emoticon

Regular ones. You might see these as bribes, but actually they’re just positive feedback.
Put these into your plan, along with the milestones at which you’ll receive them.
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