Transform Bad Habits Into Good Ones


If you have a habit that you know isn’t great for you, perhaps you can transform it into something more beneficial.

Research on behavior change shows: If you can identify why you do something, what you’d rather be doing, and what’s stopping you from doing the more beneficial action, you can come up with a plan to transform the bad into good.
When you contemplate changing a bad habit, think about the habit in terms of the following questions. This can help you get to the root of it and inspire you to come up with better habits.
 
Ask yourself:
 
* Why do I do this thing (what reward do I get from it?)
 
* Are there any downsides to operating this way?
 
* What would I rather be doing instead?
 
* What’s stopping me from doing the thing I want to be doing?
 
* What steps could I take to get over that resistance?
 
* What benefit would I get from replacing the bad habit with a good one?
Think about what you can do to overcome the barriers to creating the habit that could place the bad one. Then take some action to get started on the new habit.
Everyday example: housecleaning
 
I’ll come clean (pun intended) and share with you that I hate cleaning my apartment. Mind you, I love having a clean house. But I don’t like the actual cleaning. So I’ve developed the bad habit of cleaning only when I need to. That’s right, I’m a reactionary cleaner. If no one’s coming over, I don’t pick up the broom or pull out the vacuum.
But I’d like that to change. I’d like to become someone who cleans regularly, without resentment, and enjoys having a clean home much of the time.
So I answered the questions above to try to transform my habit of reactionary cleaning into regular cleaning.
NEGATIVE HABIT: CLEANING ONLY IF PEOPLE ARE COMING OVER

* Why do I do this thing (what reward do I get from it?)
I’d pretty much rather be doing anything but cleaning, so if I wait until I absolutely have to do it, I clean less.

* Are there any downsides to operating this way?
The dust bunnies bother me, and sometimes I feel guilty that the apartment gets so messy. Plus I don’t feel I can have people over spontaneously.

* What would I rather be doing instead?
I’d rather hire someone to do it for me, but since I’m not willing to spend the money for that, I would like to clean on a regular basis, perhaps weekly.

* What’s stopping me from doing the thing I want to be doing?
I find cleaning unpleasant (i.e., boring and exhausting).

* What steps could I take to get over that resistance?
Once I started thinking about this, lots of things came to mind:

* I could acquire better cleaning tools, ones that make cleaning easier. (A lighter-weight vacuum, for instance.)
* I could ask my partner to do it (*sinister chuckle*). 😉
* I could work on one room, one task or one floor of my house at a time, rather than feeling like I have to clean the whole apartment at once.
* I could do more daily chores (like the wiping down of the bathroom fixtures I already do) to make weekly cleaning easier.
* I could have a professional in to help me with deep cleaning a few times a year.

* What benefit would I get from replacing the bad habit with a good one?

It was easy to come up with a list of the benefits of cleaning regularly, rather than waiting for guests to come over (or waiting until it was so awful even I couldn’t stand it).
* I would rid myself of the guilt I often feel about being a lousy housekeeper.
* Cleaning itself would be easier because I’d be doing it more often.
* I could invite people over at a moment’s notice.
* I’d live in a cleaner environment, which can only be good.
* I’d probably entertain more, because it wouldn’t be as much work.
Just realizing how many benefits there would be to changing my behavior is very motivating.
 
TAKE ACTION! 
 
Your turn: Identify a bad habit you’d like to change.
 
Some examples of habits you might want to change could be:
* Smoking
* Eating fast food, junk food or sugary foods
* Leaving items out rather than putting them away
* Over-shopping
* Being late
* Procrastinating
* Letting papers pile up
* Aimlessly watching TV
* Grocery shopping without a list
* Incessantly checking email without responding
* Aimlessly using the internet for surfing, Facebook, etc.
 
 Then ask yourself the questions outlined above. See if you can come up with a more beneficial behavior to replace your bad habit.
 
Use the message board to share your results!


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