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Developing Good Habits
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FEBRUARY 17, 2008
Susan Scholl, HappyNews Columnist

All too often, we scold ourselves because of our bad habits. The good news is we don’t need to participate in that type of self-destructive behavior any longer. Believe it or not, bad habits can be broken. If you are working on changing a bad habit, the best way is to put a new good one in its place—one that will serve you well. Even if you think you do not have a lot of bad habits, this exercise will work for you too. Creating good habits is healthy for everyone.
For the next few days, simply observe your habits. Which ones are working well for you and which ones are not? For example, do you find yourself overeating, under exercising, neglecting your self care, procrastinating, spending too much time on the computer or e-mail? Many of these things seem to come naturally for us, but are frustrating at the same time. It can be madding to always feel that you don’t have enough time in the day to do the things you want. The good news is that your daily life can be improved with a few simple changes.
When developing new habits, it’s important to write them down. First of all, write down the habits you find yourself doing each day that you want to break. Some of these habits can be modified; some can be let go of completely. Do this for a week so you can see the extent of these habits. Do you find yourself doing them daily?
Next focus on what you would like your typical day to look like. Do you want more time for your family or self care? Would you like more down time—time to read and relax? Have the bad habits you have written down been getting in your way of accomplishing your great day?
Look at your list of bad habits and think about them. Are they really necessary? What is the payoff for having them? There is always a payoff or you would not be doing them. What is the trade off? By breaking the habit, what will you gain? What can you put in the place of the bad habit that would enhance your life? Cross off the bad habit and replace it with a good one.
From that point, make up a list of good daily habits you would like to begin to follow. Don’t try to follow them all at once. Change takes time. Pick one that will get you off to a good start. When that becomes a habit, pick another one. Changing a habit can, at times, take a few weeks before it feels natural. If you find yourself slipping backwards, don’t give up. Simply continue your efforts. You don’t have to be “starting over”; you will simply be picking it back up from where you left off.
As you begin working with new daily habits, you will find that some will work for you and others you once thought were necessary will turn out to be ones that you do not need after all. That’s to be expected when you start this process. Try the new habit out. If it is accomplishing what you set out to achieve, then keep it. If not, change it until it does. It’s perfectly acceptable to change them as necessary. After you get a solid set of daily habits in place, review them every so often to be sure they are still serving you. The good thing about habits is that they are your choice. Be sure that you put some in place that are great for you. They are meant to support your life, not complicate it. The habits are not “shoulds” or “rules”. Keep them simple and have fun with them.
Addressing self-care in your daily habits is essential. If you don’t take care of yourself, then life is much more difficult. Be sure that included in your daily habits are a few dealing with your self-care. An example would be exercise and getting enough sleep. This is essential to have the energy you need to create change in your life.
Above all, remember your habits are your choice. You may have developed them in childhood or they may have become recent ones. Whatever they are, they are what you choose them to be. It’s your own decision and determination that will replace bad habits with good ones.

Susan Scholl is a Certified Professional Life Coach. You can read more about her at www.susanscholl.com.





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