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Picking up the right habits is in the difference between success and “why is that guy always late?” Kick the bad habits, right now, with this four-step guide.
Skipping gym to binge on series? Browsing instead of buckling down? We get it; your body is hardwired to find patterns of behaviour. According to the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 40% of our activities are repeated every day. But there’s a glitch in the matrix: instant gratification. A quick jog will get the endorphins flowing, but the TV is hitting the same dopamine centres. Your body doesn’t know the difference, but you do. The trick here: write it down, says Warren Munitz, founder of Integrative Life Coaching. Get specific: figure out how each habit is affecting your life, then keep the good and kick the bad.
Breaking the pattern ain’t easy – trust us, we’ve all been there. But you don’t have to go cold turkey, says motivational speaker Shoni Khangala. Leave that level of brute force to real addictions. You can still watch your favourite series, just start seeing them as a reward instead of a ritual. Put in the time at the gym and checked off all your chores? Great, now watch as much Game of Thrones as you want. It’ll be tough in the beginning; you’re training your brain to ignore cravings. But you need to start expecting more from yourself, says Enabled Life founder De Wet Mans – that’s when the real growth starts happening. Still struggling? Khangala suggests a Pavlovian approach. Craving a burger? Hunker down for a set of push-ups. Over time you’ll begin to associate the trigger with the healthier option.
3. Squad Up
Waging war on your bad habits shouldn’t be a lonely experience. Your mates are your brothers-in-arms, and chances are they’re struggling with the same sins. Khangala says enlisting your friends will make the process easier and faster. Studies have shown that simply telling friends and family about your goals will help you stay focused, and, more importantly, achieve them. “I’ve been on many teams throughout my athletic career,” writes James Clear in his book Transform Your Habits. “You know what happens when you have friends, teammates and coaches expecting you to be at practice? You show up.”
4. Steer Clear
If you’re trying to quit smoking or drink- ing, you wouldn’t go to a bar, right? All our habits have triggers, and many triggers can be avoided, says Khangala. For example, if you’re missing out on sleep because you’re browsing Instagram for hours before bed, your phone is the smoking gun. Keep it charging in another room. You’ll be less likely to start browsing in bed if it involves crawling out from the covers. Same goes for sitting on Facebook when you’re on a tight deadline. Use a website blocker plugin to stonewall your temptations.