Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Bad habits are hard to quit, here is the formula I used.

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I put a stop to my bad habits, you can too.

You may ask how?

Let me tell you it's not easy, it's not willpower, it's not for the faint hearted.

It is a mindset, it is commitment, it is support, encouragement and accountability.


Our beliefs can either destroy us or assist us in achieving what some may think is impossible. Napoleon Hill said it best "Whatever your mind can conceive and believe it can achieve".

You may think "Come on this is crazy, I believe I can jump off a building and fly", well its true if it doesn't defy gravity. Although if you wear a wing suit or as they call it a "birdman suit" kinda looks like a flying squeral, well guess what, you can fly.

Let's get back on topic here.

Our minds are the most profound and powerful tools that have ever been in existence. Yes even more powerful than the strongest smartest computer, even though the computer has defeated the smartest chess player.

The most beautiful thing about our minds is that the commands we give it consciously, get programmed into the subconscious. This is what controls our habitual behavior. I have talked about habits in my previous posts, and I am sure will touch upon it in my future posts.

They way I am talking about the mind is the same as some, and by some I mean philosophers, buddhist monks, and whoever else may think so, they theorize that "You are not your mind". Your mind lives within you and controls your thoughts emotions and actions. I think this is a topic for another post.

To give you an idea as to how we can change our mind about something we do I want to give you this simple exercise which has helped me along the way.

Ask yourself these four questions:

1.What will this do for me after I act on this habit? (positive or negative)

2.How will I feel after I do this habit? (mind and body)

3.How will I feel tomorrow after I do this habit?

4.What will people think of me if I do this habit?

For everyone the answers will vary. The idea is that you are retraining your mind. Your mind is used to sending signals to the body for serotonin/dopamine hits for every time you do your habit.

The goal is to replace the habit but to maintain your seratonin/dopamin hits. Eventually a pattern will emerge.

Just making your mind up is unfortunately not enough. Why you may ask? Because we have ingrained this bad habit into our subconscious behaviour, its the same as taking a saw to a log and sawing it until your past the halfway point

It is the first place you start. If you believe you can stop your bad habits, than let's move on to commitment.


Like anything you do that you love, or hate, you stay committed to either doing or not doing it. Staying committed needs to become a ritual for you for when you make your mind up.

When the urge comes, and it will come believe me, you need to go back to asking yourself those four questions above. This is part of the commitment I am suggesting here.

The other part of the commitment I will discuss below, in support, encouragement and accountability.

I really love this quote by Socrates, "A boy came to a philosopher and said to him that he wanted to become a philosopher. The philosopher took him out to a lake and stuck his head underwater. The boy started to struggle. The philosopher kept his head underwater until the boy fought back to catch a breath. The philosopher asked the boy 'What were you thinking about before I pulled your head out of the water?' The boy replied 'The only thing on my mind was to get oxygen'. The philosopher told the boy, next time he wants to be a philosopher as bad as he wanted oxygen than he will be ready to become one".

Does this tie into my topic? It can. Even though I really like this phrase and it seems like it has no place in being in this post. We can take the lesson that if you want something bad enough you can attain it.

Support, encouragement, accountability:

Here comes the glue that hold everything else together.

You want to assign a friend, someone who you would not lie to for any reason (unless you have a habit of lying, this may be a deeper rooted issue and again we can discuss this in another post), to support, encourage and hold you accountable for your actions.

How will you do this?

What has worked for me is having my best friend read back ten questions to me that I have assigned for him. I read this practice in one of my books of which I am now having a hard time recalling. This was before I started writing down cliff notes and summaries of the books I am reading.

The answers to the questions must be either a yes, no, or a number.

For example if you are wanting to quit smoking. One of the questions may be, Have you smoked today? Or if you are in the beginning stages of stopping, then you can rephrase that question to how much have you smoked today?

Or if you are wanting to start a positive habit like going to the gym and working out or running. The question may be, How long was your run today? Or have you gone to the gym today?

This exercise should take no longer than two minutes at the end of each day.

The purpose of this is to instill in your mind that at the end of each day you will be asked these questions and if you are competitive like I am than you would want to ace those questions.

Progress by asking tougher questions in a month or two.

This is the advice I give to my friends when they ask me how to quit a bad habit.

What you choose to do with this information is up to you.

To be continued....

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