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Blog #4 of 4: Zen of Changing Habits

Thursday, June 26, 2014

21. Take it one urge at a time. Often we’re told to take it one day at a time — which is good advice — but really it’s one urge at a time. Just make it through this urge.

22. Not One Puff Ever (in other words, no exceptions). This seems harsh, but it’s a necessity: when you’re trying to break the bonds between an old habit and a trigger, and form a new bond between the trigger and a new habit, you need to be really consistent. You can’t do it sometimes, or there will be no new bond, or at least it will take a really really long time to form. So, at least for the first 30 days (and preferably 60), you need to have no exceptions. Each time a trigger happens, you need to do the new habit and not the old one. No exceptions, or you’ll have a backslide. If you do mess up, regroup, learn from your mistake, plan for your success, and try again (see the last item on this list).

23. Get rest. emoticon

Being tired leaves us vulnerable to relapse. Get a lot of rest so you can have the energy to overcome urges.

24. Drink lots of water. emoticon emoticon emoticonSimilar to the item above, being dehydrated leaves us open to failure. Stay hydrated!

25. Renew your commitment often. Remind yourself of your commitment hourly, emoticon and at the beginning and end of each day. emoticon Read your plan. Celebrate your success. emoticon Prepare yourself for obstacles and urges.

26. Set up public accountability. emoticon Blog about it, post on a forum, email your commitment and daily progress to friend and family, post a chart up at your office, write a column for your local newspaper (I [NOT CHRIS!] did this when I ran my first marathon). When we make it public — not just the commitment but the progress updates — we don’t want to fail. emoticon

27. Engineer it so it’s hard to fail. emoticon
Create a groove that’s harder to get out of than to stay in: increase positive feedback for sticking with the habit, and increase negative feedback for not doing the habit. Read more on this method.

28. Avoid some situations emoticonwhere you normally do your old habit, at least for awhile, to make it a bit easier on yourself.

If you normally drink when you go out with friends, consider not going out for a little while. If you normally go outside your office with co-workers to smoke, avoid going out with them. This applies to any bad habit — whether it be eating junk food or doing drugs, there are some situations you can avoid that are especially difficult for someone trying to change a bad habit. Realize, though, that when you go back to those situations, you will still get the old urges, and when that happens you should be prepared.

29. If you fail, figure out what went wrong, plan for it, and try again. emoticon
Don’t let failure and guilt stop you. They’re just obstacles, but they can be overcome. emoticon In fact, if you learn from each failure, emoticon they become stepping stones to your success. emoticon Regroup. Let go of guilt. Learn. Plan. And get back on that horse. emoticon

Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones. - Benjamin Franklin

So-- I am now psyched to develop the habit of eating at the table! chris

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