November 30, 2008.
"We first make our habits, and then our habits make us."
We've all got a few annoying habits that we would like to break. OK, maybe more than a few. I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about here; those troublesome habits that sap our productivity, zap our energy and cap our future potential.
And here's the real rub (as if the rotten habit isn't bad enough). Most, if not all, of these destructive habits just seem to sneak up on us, stealthily grabbing us little by little until they have us firmly in their grasp and under their control. Then, before you know you have the habit - the habit has you!
We would love to rid ourselves of these rotten habits. After all, keeping them prevents us from living the lives we desperately want - and need - to live. Yet far too often we find that eliminating an unwanted habit is far harder than we thought it would be.
"The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken."
I'm sure you have gone through the process of trying to get rid of a bad habit. But let's be honest here, more often than not, there is a lot more trying going on than actual doing taking place. In your futile attempt to get rid of the habit by going cold turkey, you usually end up a dead duck instead. Why?
One possible reason might be you really didn't want to change in the first place. Maybe a spouse pushed you to make the change. Or perhaps a friend, relative or associate pressured you to make the change. In any event, the change wasn't important to you and not surprisingly, you didn't stay with it.
Even on those occasions when you are truly committed to making and keeping the change, it still takes a significant expenditure of time, energy and focus to make certain the change becomes permanent.
"A nail is driven out by another nail. Habit is overcome by habit."
Unwelcome habits do not suddenly appear overnight. It takes a while for them to grow and take root. The longer these habits have their hooks in you, the tougher it is to get the hooks out. That sobering fact can be some bad news indeed, especially when you desperately want those bad habits to go away right now.
Why shouldn't we be able to get rid of these yucky habits sooner rather than later? Isn't there a better way to eliminate or change negative habits and patterns? Yes, there is.
In order to quickly change your habits, you should implement the principle of substitution. By simply following this fundamental principle, you never have to give up a habit, you simply replace one for another. It's not as hard as you think once you learn the tricks of the trade.
"We are what we repeatedly do."
In its simplest terms, you trade one habit for another. You'll find that it is a whole lot easier to exchange a habit you don't want for another habit you do want than it is to try to drop the bad habit cold turkey. Whenever and wherever you want to rid yourself once and for all of a particularly troublesome habit, you should start looking for a healthy habit to replace in its stead. Then, when you find a really good one, don't wait around. Simply go ahead and make the trade right then and there.
By mastering this substitution process, you don't have to wait days, weeks or even months for the bad habit to go away. By making the trade, it's out with the bad habit and presto... in with a nice, new healthy habit in its place. I feel a word of caution should be added here. This is not, I repeat not, a quick fix. The trade is only as solid as your commitment to the exchange.
When you really want to eliminate a bad habit, this system definitely works - and works very quickly. No more long, drawn out battles to eliminate a bad habit have to be waged. No more coming up short and falling back into the same old destructive routine. When you learn to substitute a good habit in place of a bad one, you never have to fight that uphill struggle of trying to kick a habit. You just simply find something better to take its place - and then make the switch.
The Bottom Line: Get in the habit of forming positive habits.
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