It’s that time of the year again! People often use the Stoptober campaign to consider their health and lifestyle and to make changes to those annoying habits that have been holding you back…like drinking and eating too much, or smoking, gambling…or anything else that has been stopping you from getting where you want to be. So here are a few hints o help you make the commitment to change and, importantly, to help make that commitment stick.
Firstly, take some time to reflect on why this change is important for you…what difference will it make to your life if you get this habit under control or out of your life altogether? What will be different for you? How will your life be better? Take some time daydreaming…just imagining what that would be like to finally get that habit under control…how good would that feel…to imagine that it has already happened. Really connect with the feelings you experience. This exercise can be repeated frequently and any time you feel your commitment wavering.
Secondly, consider what this habit is taking away from you…how is it adversely affecting your life? Is there a financial cost…does it affect your relationships…is it harming your career or business…what about your health…your happiness? To loosen your attachment to your habit you can imagine it is a thief taking all of these things away from you. How does it make you feel to think that your habit is taking these things away from you? Or, if you like, how does it make you feel to know that you are stealing these things from yourself? Does that make you want to stop?
Thirdly, on some level or another, your habit is ‘doing something’ for you…do you know what that is? For smokers it is often to distract from stress, worries or boredom…for drinkers it can be to forget about things that are troubling…for gamblers it could be that momentary thrill in an otherwise unsatisfactory life. Whatever it is, it is important to be able to understand just what is motivating the habit as, once you have stopped it, that motivation will be seeking another outlet.
So once we know what our motivations are, we can anticipate when those urges to indulge the habit are likely to surface and we can prepare for them. This is where we need to get creative and think about our personal situation and what we might do differently. For example, if we use smoking as an opportunity to take a break at work…what could we do instead to take a break…what do non-smokers do? It might be as simple going and making a cuppa or speaking with a colleague…the important thing is that you are interrupting the old pattern, yet getting the benefits of the old habit.
For each of us there will be different solutions…the important thing is to identify your new activity, anticipate when you are going to use it and then put it in place. You will be surprised just how quickly these new ways of doing things can become embedded, so you no longer have to think about them.
And if you find that you have lapsed, take the opportunity to reflect on what has happened, refocus on your reasons for wanting to change and get yourself quickly back on track.
So, whatever it is you are tackling in Stoptober I wish you every success!