In Blog, Dublin

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“The fastest way to success is to replace bad habits with good habits.” – Tom Ziglar

Habits. This topic has been written about to death. Google is full of articles and posts and blogs on the subject. The world is full of research and books and studies published in journals on this issue. It has been done – ad nauseum. Blah, blah, blah, habits are soooo important. *eye roll*

If anyone has participated in Eat Clean Be Lean, you’ll know how much I stress the importance of creating good DAILY habits. So why am I bothering addressing it, AGAIN?!

Because it is always relevant. Who can honestly claim to be free from ALL bad habits? It may not pertain to fitness or health, it may not be a bad habit of earth shattering consequence, even. Heck, it may not even be a bad habit, per say, but just a benign habit that’s not improving your life or moving you in a positive direction type habit. Plus, it’s all too easy to start drifting back into the realm of bad habits – even after a period of time with a new good one under your belt. The quality of your life really is dictated by your daily routine – a routine that is largely comprised of HABITS. Habits are the behaviours we engage in virtually unconsciously, yet they are the most powerful determinant of where you are in your life.

There is loads of information on the psychology of habit formation – I’m not here to re-hash it all. I just want to put out the simple reminder that if you are looking to change something in your life, the best place to look is with your current habits. Here are a couple of tips I find useful:

  • Replace bad habits with good habits. This sounds simple, yet it’s actually quite profound. If you actually REPLACE the bad habit with something else – a good habit – you’ll be less likely to fall back into to the old habit because something has filled its spot. This is more productive than merely telling yourself to just “stop doing THAT thing.” Or simply telling yourself to “start doing THIS thing.” Telling yourself to “start doing THIS thing instead of THAT thing” fills the vacancy left by your bad habit and sneaks in something beneficial. For instance, instead of grabbing a sugary soda pop with dinner every night, replace it with a sparkling mineral water. Rather than habitually coupling that chocolate bar with your afternoon coffee, switch to a high protein greek yogurt with a handful of berries stirred in. Like to smoke a cigarette? Try popping a piece of sugar free gum instead (yes, it’s good for dental health). This can apply to all areas of life – not just health and wellness. Is work becoming a drag? Rather than checking Facebook on your breaks, spend that time intentionally reviewing your goals lists or actively following up with clients. Add something GOOD to replace the BAD.   

If you don’t have a ‘bad’ habit (what kind of magical creature are you?!), try replacing a neutral habit with a better habit! We all have room for improvement. Start where you’re at and change one little thing at a time.

  • Start with one habit at a time. Dramatic overhauls work for some people, but sustainable and long term changes generally occur one intentional change at a time. As I’ve been listening to a lot of the Zig Ziglar podcasts lately, I’ve heard this one many times over: “Tornadoes and hurricanes get all the glory, but termites do the most damage. One bite at a time.” Think about it. The same applies to positive changes in your life.
  • Piggy-back a new good habit onto an existing habit. Link your habits together. Before long you’ll practically have a Pavlovian association between the two and a permanent new good habit! For instance, brushing AND flossing your teeth. Drinking a glass of water AND taking your Omega-3 capsules. Drinking your morning coffee WHILE reviewing your life or daily goals. Taking a shower AND washing your arm-pits. You get the idea. Couple a new habit you’d like to cultivate to an existing habit you already partake in, and never do one without the other in tow until it’s automatic. Morning and bedtime rituals/routines are great places to start.
  • Track your habits. I’m a fan of measuring and tracking progress. You can only manage what you can measure. How are you keeping tabs on creating the habits and routine that is moving you forward in life? Good habits are merely action goals that have reached autopilot status. Goal setting is simply the habit of writing down your wishes. Keep a compliance chart or journal to monitor your behaviour as you work to establish a new habit. There’s probably even an app for that! It doesn’t have to be a complicated system, just make a note in your training journal or daily calendar of whether you engaged in your new habit that for the day. If your goal is weight loss, track your weight or track your measurements, or track your ab photos. If your goal is healthier eating, track your vegetable intake, track your junk food intake. If it’s drinking more water, track the amount of water you drink through the day. If you are intentional about your desire to change for the better, tracking your progress as you acquire new habits should help you stay the course.

How many of us are stuck in a rut going through the motions, doing the same old routine and carrying on with the same old habits and staying stagnant in our personal growth and development?  My hope is for you to take this to heart and INTENTIONALLY strive for better. Take control and begin to create positive, new habits if you want to change your life. Turn it into a DAILY practice. No one can do the work for you.

Food for Thought: Recognize you have choices – every choice you make through the day either moves you towards your goals or away from your goals. What choice do you want to make?


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