Whatever you want to achieve, these simple tips are the universal tricks to help you banish that unhealthy habit…
1. Be Realistic
Set yourself up for success by only making resolutions you can keep and ones that are practical.
2.Break it Down
Breaking your longer-term goals into more manageable short-term chunks is not only beneficial to achieving what you what, it’s also more rewarding as you can celebrate passing each successful step.
Do one thing at a time. “One of the easiest routes to failure is to have too many resolutions.
If you want to be fitter and healthier, do one thing at a time. Give up drinking perhaps. Or give up smoking. Join a gym. Or perhaps eat more healthily.
But don’t do them all at once, just choose one and do your best to stick to it. Once you have got one thing under your control, you can begin a second
4. Set SMART Goals
Psychologists and business leaders talk about setting goals that are SMART – that is – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.
Resolutions shouldn’t be any different. Cutting down alcohol drinking is an admirable goal, but it’s not SMART.
Planning to drink no more than one unit of alcohol every other day for one four-week period is a truly SMART resolution.
Connecting the resolution to a specific goal can also be motivating, for example, dropping a dress size or wanting to lose two inches off your waistline in time for Easter.
5. Start a Mood Diary
Recording your feelings will help you identify the emotional triggers behind your bad habits – for example, if you sometimes lapse to cheer yourself up.
Ask yourself two questions: “How am I feeling?” and “What do I need?” Pinpointing the emotions that fuel the behavior you’re trying to change is a crucial first step.
The next step is to find healthy alternatives to cope with these same emotions – for instance, take time out, go for a jog or grab a healthy snack.
6. Keep it Simple
You know an action is a habit when you don’t have to think about it.
This essentially means you need to remove all excess options from any new habits you’re trying to build.
For example, if you want to start having a healthy breakfast each morning, don’t vary the choices too much initially.
Stick to one smoothie or poached egg recipe that you enjoy and can whip up daily without too much thought.
7. Tell Your Friends
Making sure your family and friends know that you have a New Year’s resolution you really want to keep will act as both a safety barrier and saves face.
If you want to cut down smoking or drinking, real friends won’t tempt you and will help monitor your behavior.
So don’t be afraid to ask for special allowances and encouragement from those who know you best.
8. Support Each Other Accordingly
Trying to change bad habits on your own can be difficult.
For example, if you and your partner both smoke, drink and eat unhealthily, it’s really hard for one partner to change their behavior if the other is still engaged in the same old bad habits.
However, any couple, or perhaps close friends that share the same resolution, can expect to see their chances of success improve overall.
9. Expect Setbacks
Accept lapses as part of the process. It’s inevitable that when trying to give up something you enjoy there’ll be times when you succumb to temptation.
The key is not to feel guilty about giving into your cravings, but to accept that each slip-up is all part of the learning process.
Bad habits can take years to become ingrained and there are no quick fixes in making major lifestyle changes. It might be a cliche but every new day is a chance to start again.
10. Reward Yourself
Rewards really help “fix” new healthy habits in place of old ones.
The trick is to reward yourself for your first few steps until your new healthy habit becomes ingrained into your regular routine. The first month or so is important here.
Pick rewards that will be a good incentive for you – make them something small and enjoyable.
For example, when you first stop smoking, reward each cigarette-free week by spending the money you’ve saved on a “treat” – such as one item of clothing or cinema tickets.
The sense that you’ve really earned it will make you enjoy the reward even more and your brain will both remember the feeling of pleasure and seek to repeat it, helping fix the new good habit.