Change Habits

How To Change Habits: My 3-Cubed Formula

It’s July 1, a time of year I often feel motivated to think about mid-year resolutions and habits I want to change.

So I thought I’d share with you my personal resolutions for this half-year, plus my 3-Cubed Formula for achieving them – and invite you to join me in making habit changes of your own.

I’ll report back regularly on my progress, and would love you to share your progress too.

My 3-Cubed Formula

I’ve developed this 3-Cubed Formula for changing habits over many years. It’s based on my own trial and (especially) error, together with life coaching processes, and findings from psychology research studies.

Here’s how it works.

1. Choose Only 3 Habit Changes or Resolutions at a Time

Probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned from psych research, working with clients, and my own experience is that taking on too much is a surefire way to exhaust and de-motivate yourself.

Changing a habit is difficult enough as it is. It’s much better to succeed at an achievable pace, and then use that sense of mastery to set the bar a little higher next time.

Once you’ve gotten on top of one of your habits, you can replace it with a new challenge, so you always have 3 resolutions to work on.

2. Focus On What You Will Do, Not On What You Want to Avoid

The next major lesson I’ve learned is that it’s very difficult to make yourself not do something. Not eat chocolate. Not talk too much. Not be late.

As much as you might think the biggest challenges in your life are things you want to stop doing, I urge you to try it this way instead, and see how it works for you.

Frame your habit changes in positive terms – things to do, not things to not do.

You might need to get creative and look for things that:

  • Are inconsistent with the thing you want to avoid
    --> EG Go to the gym; go for a walk; drink peppermint tea after dinner (if that’s when you usually smoke)
  • Make you feel good about yourself so you’re less motivated to do the thing you want to avoid
    --> EG Wear jeans that look great when watching TV (so you won’t be as tempted to binge)
  • Distract you from the thing you want to avoid
    --> EG Take up ballroom dancing (so you won’t be home to stalk your ex on Facebook).

Even if you still smoke, binge or stalk, at least you’ll be adding a good habit or good feelings to your life.

And chances are that if you persevere, you might just crowd the bad habit out of your life.

3. Place Your 3 Resolutions in 3 Places and Read Them 3 Times a Day

Once you’ve got your 3 habit changes or resolutions and you you’ve framed them in positive terms, put them in 3 places.

Ideally, you want to choose places where you’ll naturally come across your resolutions every day – like the bathroom mirror, your wallet, the fridge door, your bedside, your diary, etc.

Aim to read them to yourself – mentally or aloud – 3 times most days. This will help you to remember and focus on the things you’re committing to.

Got that? Okay, so now here are the 3 mid-year resolutions I’m making.

My Personal Resolutions

1. Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day.

Drinking lots of water helps me feel healthy.

It also stops me thinking I’m hungry when I’m really thirsty. One of my bad habits is eating way too many chips, which I find delicious and deeply, almost disturbingly, comforting. Drinking lots of water will help me save the chippies for when I really want them.

2. When I’m in a tense environment, focus on breathing.

Usually when I’m nervous or anxious I talk too much, leading me to say unhelpful or just plain dumb things.

So I want to get into the habit of being aware that I’m anxious, and focusing on my breaths. Breathing will distract me from becoming enmeshed in the tense situation, and slow down my rush to ramble.

3. Finish my writing tasks first each day.

The most important part of my job is to write, but I’m always tempted to get the little things out of the way first – emails, household chores, lesser priorities. And they can take all day, or at least my best energy (I call this the tyranny of the tiny).

So I’d like to procrastinate on the lower priorities till I’ve got at least one writing task completed each day.

Now over to you!

What 3 habit changes or resolutions will you set? Can you use my 3-Cubed Formula to increase your chances of success? Please share in the comments.

I’ll check in regularly to let you know how I’m doing. 🙂

[Image: By .:martu:.]

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