Monday, January 18, 2010

Changing Habits

dreamtime free images

We are creatures of habit. I'm sure that's a quote but who's? I don't care.

Someone once wrote that 90% of the things we do everyday are the same as the day before. We run on auto. We buy the same things, we do the same things and we do them, near enough at the same time.

Sounds boring, but that's just how we are. Or is it? Perhaps it's more accurate to say that's how we run but not who we are. Habits are like genes, they mutate over time and some can turn into bad ones. I started smoking as an excuse to talk to girls in nightclubs, but I didn't start so that I could have a fag break at work, which at one point that habit developed into.

So, being creatures of habit and wanting to get healthy, we need to identify bad ones and replacement them with good ones.

Changing Habits

Changing a bad habit can be difficult and the New Years Resolution approach doesn't help much. The big bang approach maybe works for a few days but once there's a small failure many people just capitulate. Also the New Years Resolution approach doesn't prepare people for the change. Some friends who wanted to give up smoking, choose New Years Day to stop, but on the run up to New Years Day, they smoked as much as they could, which to me, make it seem that smoking was a pleasure. To be fair to one of them, he still not smoking (except for a sneaky drag when his girlfriend isn't there).

A better approach is one describe by Leo Babauta. He advocates changing one habit at a time and starting small. For example, if you wanted to do physical exercise five times a week, make it the most important thing for that month (or perhaps two months) and get to the target by the end of the time period, not the beginning. In the first week, perhaps, you walk three times, building up from 15 mins, to 20 mins to 30 mins for the third walk. Then, as the weeks progress, you introduce a forth day, starting running some of the time, maybe take up swimming. The important thing is that you get there gradually and that you treat each step like a victory.

In my next post, I'll tell you how I gave up smoking, which essentially follow the path suggested by Leo Babauta. Later in the year, I'll want to change my drinking habits from heavy drinker who's unsure when to stop to moderate drink, who drinks two or three and then stops. I'll also used this approach for getting more physical. How exciting, I bet you can't wait.

No comments:

Post a Comment