Changing things that I don’t like about myself used to be next to impossible. Each time I would encounter a behaviour or habit that I didn’t like I would think to myself, ‘I should do this instead or that instead’ and inevitably that would be the last I thought about it, until the next time. Over the years I discovered that the one common thread in all of these failed attempts at bad habit breaking was taking a good, solid first step. Not just a change in direction but a change in goals that leads to a measurable result.
On May 8, 2011 I weighed around 315 pounds, had no energy, no wind, could not tie my shoes or even see my feet without incredible difficulty, I had had enough. I was going to die, and soon, if I did nothing. I was going to start doing something I just didn’t know what yet. Long story short, I found a gym that I liked, showed up every day and did the best that I could and today, after almost 3 years I feel like I am making some serious progress. All because I took a focused, determined first step.
There is no one magic solution to combating bad habits, the number one enemy of bad habits is the desire to change, that is where the power is. Some people would benefit from changing only one small thing at a time, chipping away slowly at ingrained behaviour. Others may need a complete 180 degree shift from the norm to effect a difference. If you look at the words used to describe habits, entrenched, established, deep-rooted, deep-seated, fixed, firm, unshakable, ineradicable, well established, it seems the words themselves are a considerable hurdle to overcome. Courage, determination, self-will, drive, initiative, you will need all of these at one time or another to overcome bad habits.
An interesting approach to habit breaking or rather, good habit making is the 7-week or 49 plan. Pick some good habit that you would like to have, write it down on an index card and then draw 6 vertical lines and then 6 horizontal lines making a 7×7 grid. Each day that you consciously work toward your desired new habit, put an ‘x’ in the box, once you have filled up the card with x’es, you are well on your way to having a good habit for life. Start small or take as big a bite as you dare, but start, that’s the most important thing.