Tips to Successfully Change Habits

Did you know that experts say it takes 21 days to break an old habit and form a new healthier habit? If you've tried and failed at a New Year's resolution, you can try again using the help of the suggestions below:

  1. Write down your goal. There is magic in the written word when it applies to you. Experts recommend stating your goal in positive terms, such as "I want to be lean and physically fit," instead of "I've got to get this flabby body out there huffing and puffing." So, begin with writing down, as a positive goal, the habit you will change.
  2. List your reasons for changing or eliminating your habit. Writing it down will force you to think out in specific terms what this habit represents in your life and the meaning you believe your life will hold for you upon changing the habit. This will also help with your commitment toward taking positive action.
  3. List possible obstacles. What are the possible obstacles that will keep you from achieving your goal? List everything that is stopping you now. What are your inadequacies? What do you need to achieve your goal that you don't already have? Why aren't you there already?
  4. Write a plan to overcome each obstacle. List your action steps 1...2...3...etc. for each obstacle. Be as specific as possible. What will it take for you to overcome each obstacle that is blocking you from what you want?
  5. Follow your plan for 21 days. Determine the date you are planning on changing your habit. Count ahead 21 days on the calendar and mark that date down. Now, make a commitment that you will follow your plan for 21 days.
  6. Sustain your motivation. Follow these suggestions each day to sustain motivation:
  • Review your list of reasons for quitting or changing.
  • Create mental pictures of yourself as having already achieved your habit change.
  • Make affirmations, positive self-statements about your habit change. For example, "I am filled with so much health and vitality now that I exercise four times a week."
  • Remember to take it one day at a time. If you do backslide, don't label yourself as having failed. Get out your list of reasons for quitting or changing and begin again