Your habits will determine your future, and if you keep doing things a certain way, you’ll be able to predict the results. It’s the simple law of cause and effect: Successful habits create positive rewards. Negative habits breed negative consequences.
If you ignore healthy habits in favor of lazy couch time or quick fast food, you shouldn’t expect to feel healthy. If you are in the habit of starving your most important relationships of time, energy and love, you can’t enjoy a great relationship. If you spend money recklessly or don’t save any money, you may have to expect a never-ending cycle of work.
Don’t like the way these scenarios play out? Then shift yourself out of your worst habits to guarantee yourself a happily ever after. All it takes is some applied focus. And this step-by-step plan will help you get started:
1. Clearly identify your bad or unproductive habits. Write them down.
Be specific—and totally honest. Remember to consider the long-term consequences should you continue in this bad habit. Consider habits at home, at work, in your free time, and in matters related to your physical, emotional and spiritual health.
2. Define your new successful habit and visualize its results in your life.
Your new habit is usually the simple opposite of your bad one. Think about all the benefits and rewards you’ll enjoy once you adopt your new successful habit. The more vividly you describe the benefits, creating the new picture in your mind, the more likely you are to make changes.
3. Create a three-part action plan.
For every bad habit, there are at least 15 action steps you can take to help you stop. Put some time into this and think about it. It might seem easy to come up with action steps, but they have to be customized for you, actions you know are within your realm of taking. Don’t list things that you know in your heart you won’t do.
4. For the next three weeks, schedule these action steps into your day.
Whatever the new habit and its action plan, work each step into your schedule for the month ahead. Most habits—even the very ugliest ones—can be completely re-patterned in this short timeframe.
5. Take action.
Start with one habit that you desperately want to change. Focus on the three immediate steps you have and put them into action. Do it now.
Remember, nothing will change until you do.