Before embarking on any effort to change old routines, it is best to plan well for the challenges ahead. Many an individual who now says, “I can’t change,” is someone who tried to stop foolishly. Closer to the truth is: “I can successfully change–if I prepare realistically.” Then get specific information that will help you change.
Study the Habit Thoroughly
Overconfidence is a common mistake. If you impulsively try to stop your habit without realistic support and anticipating setbacks, you risk a crash and burn that will erode your hope and motivation. Take the time to learn everything you can about the habit and how it affects your life.
Self knowledge is critical–if you want to defeat your enemy then you need to “know your enemy”. Examine your habit as a scientist would, over time and in different circumstances. Get specific details about what’s going on in your life that makes it hard to quit.
A key element to understand are your “triggers”–the circumstances that cause you to give in to the habit:
- When does it get less frequent?
- When does it get worse? What time of day? What time of the week or month?
- What are you thinking and feeling beforehand?
- What do you tell yourself before you do it?
- What do you say to yourself afterwards?
And you need to know your honest thoughts and feelings around the habit: Why do you like the it? What do you fear losing if you give it up?
Why do you dislike the habit? What motivates you to change? What do you fear you will lose if you don’t change?