|Behavior (Photo credit: Rickydavid)|
So when is the right time?
If you've ever made a New Year resolution or know someone who has, you'll know that the chances of succeeding are lower because:
a) you've probably spent the month of December overspending, overindulging and people pleasing family members you avoid most of the year, and
b) you are in the habit of thinking and acting unconsciously in a certain way that's counterproductive to your goal.
The good news is you can make a conscious decision now and have over a month to make that change and avoid the pitfalls. It only takes 21 days to form a new habit and break an old one.
1) Raise your awareness
Identify the set of behaviours in relation to area you want to change. This requires some thought about what you are doing or not doing, and possibly the reasons behind these actions. Most of what we do is routine and we may not even be aware that we are on autopilot.
Step back and take a look from an outside perspective. It can be helpful to write this down and you'll be surprised at what you see. You will probably find that you are spending quite a bit of time you think you didn't have doing things you don't want to do. This new level of awareness will prompt you make a better choice consciously.
2) Identify the behaviours that need to stop
Many of us are spending far too much time watching television, aimlessly surfing the internet and a variety of other distractions, yet we say we don't have time to do the things we want to do. We drive when we could walk at least some of the way.
We drink one too many or light up that cigarette we don't want. We make impulse purchases without considering options and affordability. It's helpful to allow some leeway on a conscious level so the new change will stay a challenge and not become a chore. Our level of awareness of our behaviours will show us where change can take place.
3) Replace unwanted behaviours with new positive ones
Make a conscious choice to stop doing one thing and start doing another. It will depend on the behaviour and the person whether it will work best to abstain completely or gradually introduce a new behaviour. If it needs to be a gradual change, consistency and progression will be necessary so it's important to have a plan and review it every few days.
4) Avoid procrastination and build motivation
The key to avoiding procrastination is taking action. Just do it. Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 in regard to reaching your goal. Ideally you want to be at an 8, so if you score lower than this it might be helpful to write a list of pros and cons. This is your goal, so the pros will outweigh the cons. Motivate yourself by visualising how you will feel when you have achieved your goal.
Break it down into steps, take each step one at a time, feel good about each step you take and move forward one day at a time. It may also be useful to tell one other person what you are doing. We are more inclined to commit to something if we have told someone we respect that we are going to do it. That added support will help maintain motivation.
Best of luck and Happy New Year!
Certified Life Coach
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