Executive Coaching: Our time is filled with habitual behaviors. We are completely unaware of many of these habits. Some are good and others have negative consequences.
Repetitive behaviors that have been reinforced for many years are often challenging to change. However, it can be accomplished. Changing your habits is a matter of conscious effort. You cannot change any deeply ingrained behavior without taking the time and energy necessary to make a change.
The good news is that it only takes 21-30 days to create a new habit. The brain creates new neural pathways for new repetitive behaviors and the longer you perform the new behavior, the stronger this pathway become. Here is a strategy for changing habits.
The first thing you must do is recognise the undesirable habit and its triggers. Observe what exactly causes you to engage in this behavior. For example, if you have a cigarette every morning with your coffee, the coffee is likely a trigger for you to smoke. If you nap every day after lunch, then your lunch meal is probably a trigger for your nap. Find your specific triggers so that you can recognise when the undesired behavior is most likely to occur.
The best way to change a habit is to replace it with a more desirable one. It is difficult to simply drop a habit. It is much more effective to find a new habit to fill the place of and undesirable one. So, instead of having that cigarette with your coffee, find a healthier alternative. Instead of napping after lunch, begin exercising. Do this intentionally for 21 – 30 days and it will become routine.
Positive reinforcement is crucial to your success in changing a negative habit. Remind yourself of the reward you are receiving by making this change. If the positive effects of your change are not seen quickly, consider giving yourself some type of reward for committing to the process. Perhaps you purchase a small gift for yourself once you refrain from performing the undesirable habit for a period of two weeks. Then, another reward after you have completed another two weeks of good behavior. This gives you something to look forward to and a reason to try harder. Do not underestimate the power of positive reinforcement.
Changing a habit takes time and effort, but it is often worth the energy. If you are unhappy with certain behaviors, just change them. Your life is in your hands. It is up to you to make the difference in your own life.