“How does one become a butterfly?” she asked pensively. “You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” ~Trina Paulus
In yesterday’s post, we identified the negative habits that are no longer serving us. Now, we’re ready to begin replacing them with new, more positive habits that will support the lives we desire. So how do we create and implement new, more effective habits in our daily lives?
Change Your Mind
Once you’ve identified a negative habit, you need to intentionally change your thought patterns in order to change the habit, and then replace it with a new, more positive habit.
One very effective way you can begin to “change your mind” is to practice saying affirmations each day–and to change a specific habit, develop a short, positively stated affirmation that you can recite anytime you notice the habit.
So, for example, let’s say your negative habit is obsessively checking your email and it distracts you from getting your work done. The next time you notice yourself checking your email when you should be working, stop what you’re doing and remind yourself what you want to do instead.
Your affirmation in this case could be something like “I check my email at scheduled times and I stay focused on my work.” It doesn’t have to be fancy–just something short that you can say (or intentionally think) to yourself to help “reprogram” your thoughts. Because, as you may know–thoughts become things. Remember too that you need to state your intention in positively because your subconscious doesn’t recognize negatives. So, if you say “I don’t obsessively check my email,” your subconscious will hear “I obsessively check my email.”
You create the life you have by attracting the things, people and situations on which you focus. So, by intentionally switching the focus from your old habit (obsessively checking email and interrupting your work) to your new habit (only checking email at scheduled times and focusing on your work), you begin to immediately manifest that change–and before you know it, the new habit becomes second nature.
One Thing at a Time
While it is completely possible to become exactly who you want to be, it’s a good idea to change your habits one at a time. I find that, in most cases, adding one new habit every week to two weeks works for me–but sometimes it takes a little longer. Most experts suggest that it requires thirty days of focused intentional change before the habit becomes automatic.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up If You Slip
This one’s important folks–and it can mean the difference between success and failure. If you slip into your old habits, don’t beat yourself up–but do get back on track immediately. Forgive yourself and move forward with the plan, RIGHT THEN–don’t say “well, I messed up anyway, I might as well start again tomorrow” because tomorrow never comes! Treat yourself like you’d treat someone you love (because, of course, you must love yourself first.)
Change doesn’t have to hurt–but you’ve got to really want it. Just like that little caterpillar in the opening quote, stay focused on the goal, and remember why you’re making the changes in your life. Write it down and post it on your fridge if you need to–whatever helps you to stay motivated. Give yourself the gift of making intentional choices in your life, and before you know it, you’ll be living the life you’ve always wanted. What do you think?