We are trundling along at pace on our habit busting mission. How are you feeling about everything? Still overwhelmed or are you feeling a little bit more like you can do this. You can do this!
So yesterday we thought about substitutions for our habits and examined the need to change the rhythm of our days. Today is a similar kind of thing, but rather than looking at internal changes we can make, today is all about managing our external environment. Here we go.
How to break a bad habit
Step 7. Change your environment
There are so many cues in our daily life that remind us of our bad habit that it makes sense to remove as many of them as possible. The most dangerous of all cues is the clock. How often do we do things just because it’s a certain time of day? Oh, it’s midday, I must be getting hungry. Oh, it’s been a whole hour since I had a cigarette, I must need another one.
Often our cues are simply part of our daily routine and we need to change our daily routine in order to erase the cue. When my mum gave up a 30-year smoking habit (more than 20 years ago now, go Mum!) she recognised that her worst times for having a cigarette were when she was on the phone and when she was having a cup of coffee with her pals (which was often). So Mum bought herself a brand new kettle and a brand new phone, binned the old and told herself that that was the end of that. And it was.
Do an audit of all the times your habit is triggered and work out a way to remove the trigger. Environments can be notoriously hard to control, but believe me it can be done.
- Don’t watch TV at night if you always snack when you watch TV at night (this is my current strategy, working well)
- Walk a different way to work to avoid the bakery if you can’t resist buying a bun on your way past.
- Don’t buy the chocolate if you always eat the chocolate.
- Put the kids’ leftovers straight into the compost / worm farm / chicken bin / guinea pig feeder / bin (we have options at our house, so many, many options) if you always eat the leftovers.
- Car pool with a friend if you can’t control your tempter in peak hour traffic.
- Go for a 30 minute walk at 10:15 am if you always have an extra cup of coffee at 10:30 am.
- Shop online for groceries so you avoid the shops altogether.
- Don’t drink the first glass if you can’t stop after the second.
- Don’t talk on the phone if it means you bite your fingernails when you talk on the phone.
- Don’t drink for a while if you always smoke when you drink.
- Walk away from the kids and count to 10 instead of yelling.
- Don’t hang out at the school gate if you always gossip when you hang out at the school gate
- You get the picture…
Don’t worry – once you get a handle on your bad habit, you will be able to reintroduce some of these things into your life.
Homework for today
What are your cues and what are you going to do about them? Write down your strategy and practise controlling your environment. Be certain that the changes you plan to make are sustainable and enjoyable – there is no point setting yourself up to fail!
If you can’t think of a single thing to do to try to remove your cue, send me an email and I’ll come up with some for you. I mean it, email me and we’ll sort it out together.
Was it hard to think of your cues? Do you feel confident you can remove them?