Changing Habits: 2 Tips to Break a Bad Habit and Replace It With a Good One

 

Be Patient

Patience plays a large role in goal setting. The unfortunate thing is that many people set goals only to give up before they see any results. So many people will start something new, like a diet or business, and give up after a week.

The biggest reason for this is that they lack the patience to see it through. The goal is realistic, it’s simple, it’s small, but it doesn’t happen quickly enough for them.

So, let’s take some time and a little bit of patience to look at how to overcome our lack of patience. First off, you have to realize that reaching your goals will take time.

How many times have you sat and listened to a big successful person talk about how amazingly easy it was for them to earn money with their business?

Do they also tell you about the ten other businesses that failed?

Do they tell you about all the long hours of working and reading?

No, they don’t!

Why would they want to talk about the struggles? There is a very simple answer to that. They want to sell you whatever it is they are trying to sell, be it a book or program.

What do you think the odds are if they told people the truth about how hard it was to get to where they are that a person would actually buy their product?

Slim to none.

We are only getting to see the finished product after they have made it through all of the difficulties.

 

Don’t believe me, think about all of those weight loss commercials for Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and so on. They make it look so easy to lose weight, and all of these people who have already reached their goals, but you don’t see the struggles they faced while losing that weight.

That’s true even for those on diets like Nutrisystem where all of their meals are made for them. They are still going to experience the same cravings that people on Weight Watchers may experience.

There are no overnight successes.

Your goals are going to take time and coming up with your goal is only a small part of the process. Every successful person will tell you that you have to be patient in order to reach your goals. Patience is one of those things that we have all lost due to our instant news environment.

Secondly, patience is a virtue. Every successful person realizes at some point that it takes patience and time to reach your goals. If you come up with a goal and accomplish it in an hour or a day, then it was probably way too easy. But it also taught you that you are completely capable of being able to reach a goal. This will give you the confidence to strive for bigger goals.

 

Goal setting and patience, together, is a wonderful combination because they create a great team. Being patient is never a bad thing. Not being patient is the one sure-fire way to lose out on reaching your goals and changing your habits.

This is the reason why so many people end up giving up on their goals before the seeds of the goals have the chance to take root. There is no way that we can come up with a goal and then expect to reach it in a single day.

If you were hiking up a mountain and it only took you an hour to get to the top, it probably wasn’t a huge mountain.

Mountains and goals are supposed to be difficult so that we are pushed to do something that we have never done before. Your big goal doesn’t need to be something that nobody has ever done before. The goal should simply be something that you haven’t done before, which will push you beyond the places where you have been.

This is what ‘patience is a virtue’ really means, because the goal should make you better than what you were before. This is what makes goal setting patience so important.

 

Get Ready to Feel Uncomfortable

It is normal when people start questioning their sanity and want to give up. We have all been there, but guess what, today, you are going to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.

Change can only happen when things get uncomfortable. Carbon cannot become a diamond without pressure, and a pearl can’t be made without sand.

As soon as you are completely clear on what it is that you want to change in your life, you start to notice that you are feeling more compelled than ever before to do what you aren’t supposed to. You’ve never wanted a cigarette, or a piece of cake, or a soda more.

You take a deep breath in and release it while reminding yourself that there is absolutely nothing to worry about, and then you get a rush of panic. You decide you are going to start making healthy choices and cooking your own meals, but then you find yourself sitting in the drive-thru of McDonald’s.

This is how learned helplessness is developed. You want to make a change in your life, but you meet resistance that seems completely futile. This doesn’t mean that you are weak-willed.

 

There is a psychological reason that bad habits only get worse when you try to get rid of them. Within the behavioral psychology realm, it is what is referred to as “extinction bursts.”

You experience an extinction burst when you try to change a habit because it is no longer being reinforced. This is what normally happens whenever a child throws a tantrum, or acts out in order to get attention. When they don’t get the normal response to a certain behavior, it gets stronger.

On the surface, it can seem as though all of your work and trying to change is all for nothing. Believe it or not, bad behaviors are going to peak right before they disappear.

This happens with adults as well but in a different manner. Most will need to reach their very limits of bandwidth, comfort zone, and tolerance to anxiety before a huge change is actually possible in their life.

 

The biggest challenge that the majority of us face when we are trying to make a big change in life is that we are faced with a more intense resistance than we have ever met before.

The thing that you need to remember is that when you experience that bad behavior is strengthening, it’s because it has been threatened. That means you are right on the verge of  getting rid of it and whatever you think that the behavior is doing for you is placed at risk as well.

You aren’t actually doomed, helpless, or broken, and you are definitely not weak for experiencing this.

In much the same way that parents condition their children as they grow up, we also condition ourselves with the things that we regularly and repeatedly expose ourselves to.

 

We have spent our entire life building a comfort zone and then live in that space effortlessly until not changing is less comfortable. Humans are wired to seek, create, and stay within what is seen as safe. A huge change, especially when it comes to our habits or identity, is outside of this happy zone.

This is why we face resistance.

In the end, the bad habit you want to get rid of is actually a subconscious coping mechanism. When you stop feeding your bad habit, you expose yourself to feelings that often trigger it.

For example, you are looking to be more productive. Overriding the feeling that you should stop working when you face a challenge will be triggering, and then feelings of incompetence and inferiority may become stronger than they have ever been.

The one thing that you are certain of is that everything seems a lot harder than ever before. What you don’t know is that right now you are on the cusp of having a breakthrough.

There are no magical tips or tricks to work through this uncomfortable feeling or resistance. You simply have to find the motivation that will keep you moving forward.

Remind yourself, the harder it gets, the closer you are to getting rid of that habit.

 

-Tony Sanders

 

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