This is quite a good article entitled Installing a new habit and breaking an old one by Stephanie Burns on the practice of changing habits.
In 2Time, all progress hinges on a keen self-knowledge of how to change one’s habits. We are all different, and respond to different sets of stimuli. What we all need to do is to know ourselves so well that whenever we want to change a habit, we can. This is where her article is quite useful.
Here is an excerpt that focuses on making it easy to do the new habit, and hard to repeat the old one.
Strategies in action – here is how it works
You want to start carrying a bit of cash and not using your credit card.
Make it hard to do. Freeze your credit card in a block of ice.
You want to walk or jog each morning to start your day, but by the time you get up and move around you don’t feel like it.
Make it easier to do. Sleep in your jogging clothes, socks included, shoes optional.
You want to stop biting your nails, but don’t remember that ’til you’re doing it.
Make it hard or uncomfortable to do. Coat your nails with bitters, put bandaids over the ends, put a sugar free lollypop in your mouth.
You want the habit of waking up 20 minutes earlier but keep pushing the alarm snooze.
Make it hard to stay in bed. Move the alarm, set the lights on a timer, set the TV on a timer.
You want to learn to save money for a long term goal, but never get to the bank and it always seems too small an amount so you spend it.
Get in the habit of putting a little bit first. Start by putting a 2 dollar coin in a bucket in the kitchen.
You want to think before you grab something from the fridge.
Make it easy to remember and hard to do. Put a padlock on it – and give the key to your spouse so you have to ask – you’ll remember, and you will think!
You want to walk the stairs at work but keep taking the elevator.
Make it hard not to do. Tell everyone at work and ask them to say ‘booooo’ to you if they see you in the lift. Don’t worry they won’t ever have to be embarrassed to say it, because you won’t get in the lift if you did.
You want to fold the clothes, but they sit in the laundry out of sight until you walk in there next time.
Make it easy to remember and hard to not do. Take the laundry and put it on the dining table, the lounge, in the bathroom sink.
You want to stretch while watching TV but once you sit on the lounge you don’t move.
Make it easier to do. Move the lounge into another room and put a mat on the floor.
You want to move more, your annoyed at your inactivity.
Make it easier to do. Take your TV remote to work and leave it there.
You want to drink water through out the day but forget to go to the cooler or can’t be bothered.
Make it easier to remember and do. Get a jogger’s water bottle and belt.
You want the habit of walking an hour everyday.
Create anticipation for the desired behaviour by denying the opportunity to do more. Start small walks for 10 minutes everyday ’til it’s a habit, then expand the time, slowly.