A NEW YOU
There is something so promising about bringing in a new year. There’s a sense of opportunity to do things differently, to better yourself, to better your life. It’s a distinct point that we can ear mark and say, this year will be different from all the rest. Bad habits are hard to crack, so how do you change the patterns you have found yourself in year after year?
In attempting to undo bad habits, start by understanding how they are formed. Habits begin with a single thought. That thought branches out into many thoughts until it evolves into an action. Our repeated actions turn into habits, our habits make up the complexity of our character, and our character greatly influences our lives.
So, when looking for change, start with a single thought, resolution, or intention. An example of a common new years resolution or intention is, “I will go to the gym five times a week.” Your best chance for success in getting to the gym is to keep a positive mindset towards it. Your ability to stop any initial negative thought from building into a multitude of negative thoughts will determine your success in breaking an old habit and starting a new one. For example, if your initial thought is to not follow through with your resolution, recognize the negative thought and stop your negative thought from gaining ground. Remind yourself that you set this goal for a reason and the benefits that you plan to gain from it. Then reiterate the need to stick to the resolution. On the flip side, if you follow the first negative thought, more supporting thoughts will follow and you’ll have pre-planned excuses. For example you might be tempted to tell yourself, ‘I’m not in the mood to work out, I’m too hungry, I had a hard day, it’s probably busy at the gym at this time.’ After a series of negative thoughts you will easily convince yourself that any other option sounds better than going to the gym.
Then comes the first action, you drive home instead of to the gym. This action is followed by another action of throwing a pizza in the oven. Then another action, you put on your comfy clothes and make yourself all cozy on the couch. You look around and notice there you are, back to your familiar pattern. But, had you stopped that initial thought from snowballing, you would be at the gym – not on the couch.
So, lets take this one step farther and take a look at how actions become habits. Actions turn into habits when they are repeated. This is because every time you perform an activity, it gets easier and easier to perform, to the point where no mental power is necessary to re-perform that activity, thus it becomes a habit. This is also true if you refrain from an activity. When you refrain from an activity it becomes more and more difficult to push yourself to perform it, until you have no desire what so ever to perform the activity at all, thus a habit of not doing something is formed. When trying to break an old habit, know that it will take time, consistent effort and repetition to make it a part of your day-to-day life. Once it is a part of your everyday life, it will take little effort to stick with it, and thus you will have formed a new, healthy habit.