How to replace a habit

Everyone has habits.

It’s those small daily habits that determine where we end up in life.  If we can just gain control of some of our small daily activities, then ALL of our results will change.

We have good habits and we have bad habits. You might not even classify some of your actions as habits, but keep this in mind: Anything that you think, say, or do more than once is becoming a habit. It is impossible to QUIT a habit. A habit must be REPLACED.

So, how do we replace a habit?

It takes 21 days to form a habit and 21 days to change or break a habit. This is why most people fail at changing a habit; it takes a consistent, mindful and sustained conscious effort.  Forming a habit is not 21 days over the course of a month; it is 21 days in a row. This causes us to go outside of our comfort zone for 3 weeks straight, and most of us do not like being outside of our comfort zone.

A Critical Habit – The Habit of Hitting Your Goals

One habit that gets overlooked quite often is the habit of hitting your goals or the habit of not hitting your goals. You may be in the habit of not hitting your goals and not even realize it!! Here is a simple test:

  • If you have hit your goals more often than you missed them in the past 3 months then you are probably in the habit of hitting your goals.
  • If you missed more goals than you hit in the past 3 months, then you are in the habit of missing your goals.
  • If you didn’t have any goals in the last 3 months, you need to get in the habit of creating goals!!

Take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror for this. Especially, if you are in the habit of rationalizing why you didn’t hit your goals. Goals should cause you to stretch, but if you are consistently missing your target you stop believing that you are going to do what you said you will do.  The side effects are catastrophic as you slide down the slippery slope of this habit. Progressively, you develop new habits of not having integrity with yourself and then not having integrity with those around you.  Let’s get a new habit right away.

Simple Exercise to Get into the Habit of Hitting Your Goals

How can you apply this knowledge to your life?   For the next 21 days, each day, set a minimum of 5 goals to accomplish by the end of the day. Get in the habit of hitting everyone of them. The goals should be super simple such as: only hitting the snooze bar once, saying “I love you” to your spouse two times before you leave the house, reading for 10 minutes before you start the work day, doing 13 push-ups before getting in the shower, answering all emails before lunch….you get the idea.

The point is not to turn all of these activities into habits, in fact you should change these goals everyday so that its fun. Don’t use things that are already in your normal routine, mix it up. The point is to have a checklist of achievable goals that you have complete control over and you can’t blame or point the finger at anyone else.

Always set each day’s goals one day in advance, for example set Monday’s goals on Sunday, not on Monday morning. Write the goals down on a piece of paper and physically check each one off upon completion. Keep each piece of paper for the entire 21 days so that you have concrete evidence that you are in the habit of hitting your goals. And when you achieve one of these small goals, make sure and congratulate yourself. Give yourself a little pat on the back.

This is a guest post from Senior Vice President Matt Rasmussen.

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