Sep 232010

If you know why you have to change a bad habit and desire to do so, you can make careful plans to bring about that change. After which, the next logical step is to take action and execute those plans. But the change will not happen easily. You will find yourself up against great resistance and inertia. To succeed you have to proceed carefully and methodically to whittle down the hold that your bad habit has over you. Read on to find out how I changed my bad habit of viewing failure in a negative light.

The Need for Awareness

My habit of viewing failure as bad was so deeply ingrained that I barely realized it. It was after all second nature to me. Whenever I made a mistake or failed at something, I would automatically feel terrible and shut down. But to change this habit, I had to be aware of it to take control. I began by making it a point to take a step back and observe my behaviour whenever I faced failure. From there, I could guide my thoughts towards finding a solution or learning what I could from it.

Habits occur subconsciously without much thought or effort on your part. A habit after all is a routine action designed to save you time and energy in dealing with the world. Thus to break a bad habit, you have to be aware of it when it occurs. Whenever you catch yourself doing a habit you wish to change, take a step back and stop. Then gently but firmly take measures to correct your habit. With time, your new habit will become second nature.

Single-Minded Focus

There were a few reasons I chose to change one bad habit at a time. Firstly, I knew I was not good at multi-tasking. Dividing my focus would only weaken my resolve and chance of success. Secondly, I did not want any distractions. If I had two habits to change, I would be tempted to focus on the easier one. Since that was the case, it made more sense for me to focus on one habit at a time. Lastly, I knew that changing a bad habit would take time and effort. If I were not thorough about it, it would be easy for me to lapse back to my old ways. Only through complete focus on changing one bad habit at a time could I succeed in doing so.

Changing a bad habit requires time and effort because it is second nature to you. If you try to change a few habits at a time, the results may not be thorough or lasting. This is due to a lack of focus. If you cannot devote 100% of your time and energy to a task, the results will also be less than 100%. Therefore, it is more prudent and efficient if you focused all your efforts on changing one bad habit at a time. Once you succeed, you can move on to the next one without worry.

The Power of Repetition

To change my bad habit, I had books, quotes and role models to guide myself towards the change I wanted. Then it was simply a matter of repetition. I kept on immersing myself in the material until it became second nature to me. At first, it was awkward to think and behave in a new way. During the early days, I still felt bad whenever I made mistakes or failed. But over time, my view of failure changed. I grew to accept failure as a vital part of success. Today, I shrug off my mistakes and failures and focus on finding the solutions instead.

The key to changing a bad habit is repetition. After all, a habit is merely routine behaviour that has become second nature. To unlearn a habit, you have to replace it with a new habit and keep on repeating it until you change. It may be hard at first, but in time, you will get used to it. Then, you will find yourself acting instinctively to save time and effort.

Fundamental Change is Lasting Change

My problem with failure stemmed from my perception of it. Not only did my habit of viewing failure in a bad light cripple me, it also hindered my ability to learn from my mistakes. To kick my bad habit I had to change the way I perceived failure. I had to learn to view it as a stepping-stone instead of an obstacle to success. I had to embrace failure as a learning opportunity. Only then did I succeed in changing my bad habit. Today, I no longer shun failure or mistakes but take them in my stride.

For a change in a bad habit to be truly lasting, it has to occur from within. Your inner dialogue and the way you view your habit has to change for good. If you merely change your form and not your inner substance, it is easy for you to go back to your old ways. The change after all is superficial. But if you manage to change your inner dialogue and perception, a fundamental change occurs. When this happens, the chances of a relapse are much slimmer.

Patience and Time

To unlearn a bad habit of almost 30 years was not an easy feat. I could not expect to accomplish this in a short period. But I realized the need for change and desired to do so. No matter how long it took me, I was willing to make the effort. The prudent thing to do was to focus on living day to day. If I could correct my bad habit on a daily basis, in time, the days would add up to weeks, then months and finally years.

Changing a bad habit takes time. It takes time to become aware of your habit. Then it takes time to unlearn it. Finally, it takes time to replace that bad habit with a good one. You have to be patient and persistent to bring about lasting change. Firstly, you must know what your goals are. To get to your long-term goal, you have to go through your short-term ones. After all, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So, in the short term, set incremental goals for yourself. Challenge yourself to change your habit from day to day, then from week to week and so on. In time, you will succeed in changing your habit.

Taking Action

The hardest parts about changing your bad habit are getting started and staying the course. The fear of the unknown, the resistance and the inertia all serve as shackles to prevent you from changing. The only way to manage is to break down the resistance into parts that are easy to handle. Then, you have to be aware, focused, thorough and patient to succeed in changing your habit. The final step is to make sure that your change in habit is permanent.

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