Did you know that 40% of your day is habitual? That means that nearly half of the time we’re not making conscious decisions in our day. This is okay- if you have good habits, of course!

We all have good and bad habits. It’s natural to have a couple bad habits…it’s just when we get into many bad habits then it can lead to Trouble.

So what are your bad habits? Smoking? Caffeine? Lack of exercise? Biting your nails? Drinking? Sugar?

First, take note of ALL your habits, both good and bad. The list might look something like this:

Good                                                                                     Bad

-exercising almost every day                                      -drinking 2 cans of diet pop daily

-eating a healthy diet                                                  -not paying attention to my sugar intake

-meditating daily                                                         -procrastinating

 

It’s important that you don’t attack this bad list all at once or you will be depleted within an hour from having to use so much mental energy to resist your usual routine.

It’s up to you to choose which habit to overhaul first- but if you’re addicted to something life threatening then obviously it would be wise to start there. Prioritizing your habits helps to decide what to focus on first. You might not want other bad habits to get worse in the meantime but knowing that you’re going to get to them at some point might even be enough to help you in the moment.

Charles Duhigg, author of ‘The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in Life and Business’ talks about the difference in creating a habit versus changing a habit.

Which one is harder?

In my experience, it’s been harder to change a habit rather than create a habit. I wanted to drink more water so now I drink a minimum of 3 bottles of water daily but changing my diet pop to something else has been a lot harder.

Research has shown that when you write out a plan and keep it somewhere you will see it repeatedly. The plan is quite simple:

When (insert cue here), I will (do this routine) because it provides me with (reward).

For example: I was able to drink more water because I made the plan:

When I (get up first thing), I will (drink a bottle of water and do so at every break) because it provides me with (hydration and lessens my chances of getting a headache).

Make sure your reward is satisfying enough for your urges or craving. I know that if I made a plan to eat cucumbers instead of chocolate that my brain is still going to be screaming for chocolate after those cucumbers. I could either reward myself by looking at the bigger picture and seeing my shrinking waistline in the future or for instant gratification I might introduce a new, non-related reward like allowing 30 minutes of unrestrained Pinterest-ing.

There are some habits that go together. Usually if someone begins to eat healthily then they’re also more likely to start exercising too. Pairing habits is a great idea to get the most out of your day but remember that it can sometimes be a challenge to just start. So go slow if need be!

And keep track of your habits with a fancy habit tracker. Because that’s just fun.

Here are some fabulous resources to check out:

Charles Duhigg- How to Create a Habit http://assets.goop.com/222/HowtoCreateaHabit.jpg

Charles Duhigg- How to Change a Habit http://charlesduhigg.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Flowchart-How-to-Change-a-Habit.pdf

Daily Habit Tracker (scroll down) http://www.productiveflourishing.com/free-planners/

About the Author

Tara is a wellness blogger for the Local Biz Magazine who is in the process of writing her memoir on finding hope and meaning while living with a mental illness. Tara loves the concepts of positive psychology, incorporating them into every aspect of her life and spreading the message on the science of well-being.