Changing habits – the 30 day trial
Since custom is the principal magistrate of man’s life, let men by all means endeavor to obtain good customs. (Francis Bacon)
Useful habits stimulate your health, they make you more productive and successful, they provide you with more time and make you ultimately happier. Life is all about implementing these useful habits.
During the process of reshaping your behavior effectively, the right strategy and choice of the right method are crucial. This is where this article comes in. It is up to you to determine to what extent you actually want to change your habits. You’ll be surprised about the positive outcome you can achieve. The fun of this change of habits comes with a growing sense of achievement!
In fact, what exactly are habits? For the purpose of this article, I define habits as:
Recurring routines in our behavior that determine our daily lives
The 30-day trial experiment
Every change starts with a first step. The 30-day trial is a tool that simplifies this step. The advantage of this method lies in the mindset that the change doesn’t necessarily have to be forever. This tremendously encourages taking the first step. It’s easier for your head to accept the idea of change.
Finally, at the point when the trial period is over, you have already become so used to the new situation and have successfully transformed it into a habit, that all you have to do is just decide to keep it this way. There is practically no more effort.
Besides, you can already experience some of the positive effects that are triggered by the change in behavior. The sense of achievement puts you into a state of euphoria. This euphoria motivates you further in addition to the lower resistance to establish your new habit in the long term.
What I’ve done for 30 days, I can do every day from now on.
In order to fight your inner demon effectively, to assure the success of your habit change and to make it easier, I still have some advice for you:
Replace bad habits with constructive habits
Watching TV is a typical habit which consumes a lot of time.
By looking for an alternative for your old habit, you can increase the chances of success. For instance, if you watch TV in order to relax, you could alternatively read a book or get a massage.
If this incentive is not enough for you, then you can additionally choose extrinsic forms of motivation to facilitate the process.
For that purpose, set yourself a punishment for any violation of your new habit. Furthermore, you can impose a sentence for the failure of the entire project.
Let’s stick to the TV example. Each time you turn on the boob tube you pay two dollars (10 $, 100 $, depending on what you consider painful) which you donate to your partner or any institution of your choice. If the project fails entirely, the penalty can be somewhat higher. This way you’ll be thinking twice before falling back into the old habit.
Another possibility is to tell your friends /family /acquaintances of your projects. By telling related parties about your project, you become committed since it will be embarrassing to have people see you fail. This gives you a certain drive which is not to be underestimated.
Alternatively, an Internet blog about the test phase is possible, although this is not quite as engaging, and therefore does not achieve the same effect.
Ideas for old and new habits
Each person has its own individual habits. However, there are “bad” or rather “not productive” habits which are prevalent in our society. Some habits can be constructive for you and make you happy, while someone else would rather suffer from them. It’s up to you to judge. I’ve created a helpful list as input. I have already successfully integrated many of the given goal-oriented habits into my life.
|Bad habits||Purposeful habits||Make sense if I …|
|Check facebook, read mails||Start the day by doing three important or unpleasant things||…want to be successful and productive|
|Stay in bed until I can no longer avoid getting up.||regular wakeup times||…want to save time and need a routine|
|Irregular meals||Regular meals||…want to live healthy|
|lay around, sit around, stand around||daily workout or jogging|
|Eat much fat and carbohydrate food||Healthy nutrition||…want to be fit and feel good|
|Look for what has gone wrong and worry about tomorrow.||Write down ten things every evening that I liked about the day.||…want to be happy|
|Try to sleep if I’m not tired||power naps (method with small 10-20 minute naps in order to reduce the required sleeping time)||…want to save time|
|Watch too much TV||Get a massage||…want to unwind and spend my time wisely|
|fast food (McDonalds, Burger King, etc.)||Cook yourself or have someone cook for you.||…want to live healthy|
Start the day with three important or unpleasant things
The idea of this habit is to begin with many important or unpleasant things and to get momentum for the day. By deleting three blockades and barriers off your personal to-do list, you’ll get a lot more motivation and energy for the day.
Why exactly three things?
The number three is not significant, it could just as well be two or five things. It is only important to have a number that is obligatory in order to prevent excuses. That way every task has to be tackled at some point.
By this I mean things which are linked to excuses or resistance. Delaying these tasks causes unpleasant feelings or resistance for an unnecessarily long time. Dealing with these things in our mind consumes energy, which may instead be used more wisely. Besides, it is also a very liberating feeling to complete unpleasant tasks. Therefore they have the highest priority. These include important phone calls or the reconciliation after an argument with your partner or buddy.
I am referring to tasks following the principle “first things first”. Imagine an empty glass in front of you which represents your available time. Now imagine filling this container with stones. Then you fill it with pebbles. Then you add sand. Finally you fill it with water.
Normally, many large stones (important, long operations, such as writing application) are put in, then the pebbles (mean activities such as go shopping). Now visualize what happens if you FIRST add in the water and the sand (small, mostly unimportant activities, such as reading mails).
At the end there is no room for the big stones. This is precisely the point of this method, namely executing those tasks first which make you advance and which take a lot of time. The little pauses and waiting times in between will fill automatically with negligible stuff.
In conclusion, I want to ask you the final question
What habits do you want to change to make life more beautiful?