Bad habit busting is often simpler than you think. Everyone has habits that they want to eliminate. If you know anything about psychology and self development, the most common way to work on changing a habit is by working on changing the way you think. Now that is definitely a very important thing to do, but sometimes it is much easier to change a habit by simply altering the environment associated to the habit.
So what does changing the environment mean? Think of it this way, all your habits are more likely to occur in some environments and less likely to occur in others. Let’s use an example, drinking alcohol.
For most people, they are highly unlikely to drink alcohol at work, and are even less likely to drink alcohol at the gym. People are generally more likely to drink alcohol at a bar or after dinner at home.
The reason for this is because of your previous experiences. Unless you are doing something very new, your patterns of behavior will be based on how you have acted in similar environments in the past. If every time you go to a bar, you have a drink, then you are very likely to keep doing that, and if every time you go to the gym you don’t have a drink, then you are likely to keep doing that too.
Understanding this very simple principle, let’s assume that you want reduce or eliminate your drinking. Examining when you drink, you find out that you most often drink after dinner on work nights.
The question is how do you change this habit from an environmental perspective? First of all, you need to figure out in as much detail as possible the pattern that you have. You start observing yourself for a week and this is what you find.
You usually eat dinner between 7:30 to 8:00pm and at dinner you sit at the left side of the table. Once you finish you open the wine, pour it, take the glass and bottle and go to a particular arm chair to watch TV and drink.
So what you can do now is make as many changes to this procedure as possible. First of all, you may want to change the time you have dinner. You may also want to sit at a different spot at the table. Instead of wine, you place on the table a different drink and after dinner either sit in a different chair to watch tv or better yet, you do something completely different, like reading in a different room, or even better than that, go somewhere where you are very unlikely to drink like the gym.
The more you change the procedure the less triggers to drink you will feel and the easier it is to do something else. After a while, this becomes a new habit, one that is set up to be completely different to the old habit.
Let’s do another very quick example. In this example you want to stop procrastinating in the first hour of work each morning. Normally you go in, have a chat with a couple of people, make a coffee, have a quick look at the paper and then check your emails. Before you know it, 90 minutes have passed and you haven’t done anything useful.
The new procedure could be, come into work from a different entrance and only say hello to the people you come across. Have a piece of fruit to snack on in the morning at your desk, avoid looking at the paper and start your day with priority work that does not require the internet.
The more you change the environmental procedure, the better chance you have of crafting better habits and eliminating negative habits.
To your Success and Fulfilling Happiness,