The Habit Change Cheatsheet: 29 Ways to Successfully Ingrain a Behavior – zen habits

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a substance abuse. – Aristotle

Our casual lives are much a serial of habits played out through the day, a trap being fettered by the slow accretion of our former actions .

By Leo Babauta

But habits can be changed, american samoa unmanageable as that may seem sometimes .
I ’ m a living model : in bantam, about infinitesimal steps, I ’ ve changed a laundry number of habits. Quit smoke, stopped impulse spending, got out of debt, began running and waking early on and eating healthier and becoming economical and simplifying my life and becoming organized and focused and generative, ran three marathons and a couple of triathlons, started a few successful blogs, eliminated my debt … you get the mental picture.

It ’ sulfur possible .
And while I ’ ve written about habit change many times over the course of the life sentence of Zen Habits, today I thought I ’ d put the best tips all in concert in one cheatsheet, for those new to the web log and for those who could use the reminders .
Keep it simple
Habit change is not that complicated. While the tips below will seem overpower, there ’ randomness very only a few things you need to know. Everything else is barely helping these to become reality .
The dim-witted steps of habit deepen :
1. Write down your plan .
2. Identify your triggers and substitution habits .
3. focus on doing the substitution habits every unmarried time the triggers happen, for about 30 days .
That ’ s it. We ’ ll lecture more about each of these steps, and much more, in the cheatsheet below .
The Habit Change Cheatsheet
The following is a compilation of tips to help you change a habit. Don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate be overwhelmed — constantly remember the dim-witted steps above. The rest are different ways to help you become more successful in your substance abuse change .
1. Do just one habit at a time. highly important. Habit change is unmanageable, even with merely one habit. If you do more than one habit at a clock, you ’ rhenium setting yourself up for failure. Keep it dim-witted, allow yourself to focus, and give yourself the best casual for success. Btw, this is why New Year ’ mho resolutions much fail — people try to tackle more than one change at a time .
2. Start small. The smaller the better, because habit exchange is difficult, and trying to take on excessively much is a recipe for calamity. Want to exercise ? Start with just 5-10 minutes. Want to wake up earlier ? Try precisely 10 minutes earlier for now. Or consider half habits .
3. Do a 30-day Challenge. In my experience, it takes about 30 days to change a habit, if you ’ re focus and consistent. This is a round number and will vary from person to person and habit to habit. Often you ’ ll read a charming “ 21 days ” to change a habit, but this is a myth with no attest. badly — try on to find the tell from a scientific discipline for this. A more holocene analyze shows that 66 days is a better total ( read more ). But 30 days is a dear number to get you started. Your challenge : stick with a habit every sidereal day for 30 days, and post your daily progress updates to a forum .
4. Write it down. Just saying you ’ re going to change the substance abuse is not enough of a commitment. You need to actually write it down, on newspaper. Write what habit you ’ re going to change .
5. Make a plan. While you ’ ra compose, besides write down a plan. This will ensure you ’ re actually prepared. The plan should include your reasons ( motivations ) for changing, obstacles, triggers, hold buddies, and early ways you ’ re going to make this a achiever. More on each of these below .
6. Know your motivations, and be sure they’re strong. Write them down in your design. You have to be very clear why you ’ re doing this, and the benefits of doing it need to be authorize in your read/write head. If you ’ re just doing it for dressing table, while that can be a dear incentive, it ’ s not normally adequate. We need something stronger. For me, I quit smoking for my wife and kids. I made a promise to them. I knew if I didn ’ thymine smoke, not only would they be without a conserve and founder, but they ’ vitamin d be more probable to smoke themselves ( my wife was a stag party and drop out with me ) .
7. Don’t start right away. In your plan, write down a originate go steady. possibly a workweek or two from the go steady you start writing out the plan. When you start right aside ( like nowadays ), you are not giving the plan the earnestness it deserves. When you have a “ Quit Date ” or “ Start Date ”, it gives that date an air of significance. Tell everyone about your drop out date ( or start date ). Put it up on your wall or calculator desktop. Make this a Big Day. It builds up prediction and exhilaration, and helps you to prepare .
8. Write down all your obstacles. If you ’ ve tried this habit change before ( odds are you have ), you ’ ve likely failed. Reflect on those failures, and figure out what stopped you from succeeding. Write down every obstacle that ’ south happened to you, and others that are likely to happen. then write down how you plan to overcome them. That ’ s the key : write down your solution before the obstacles arrive, so you ’ re fix .
9. Identify your triggers. What situations trigger your current habit ? For the smoking habit, for case, triggers might include waking in the morning, having chocolate, drinking alcohol, nerve-racking meetings, going out with friends, driving, etc. Most habits have multiple triggers. Identify all of them and write them in your plan .
10. For every single trigger, identify a positive habit you’re going to do instead. When you first wake in the dawn, rather of smoke, what will you do ? What about when you get stressed ? When you go out with friends ? Some positive habits could include : exercise, meditation, abstruse breathing, organizing, decluttering, and more.

“ Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but wheedle downstairs a step at a clock. ” – Mark Twain

11. Plan a support system. Who will you turn to when you have a potent urge ? Write these people into your plan. Support forums on-line are a great tool ampere well — I used a smoking cessation forum on when I quit smoking, and it truly helped. Don ’ thyroxine underestimate the exponent of corroborate — it ’ s actually significant .
12. Ask for help. Get your family and friends and co-workers to support you. Ask them for their help, and let them know how crucial this is. Find an AA group in your area. Join on-line forums where people are trying to quit. When you have in truth impregnable urges or a in truth difficult time, call on your support network for avail. Don ’ t smoke a cigarette, for example, without posting to your on-line discontinue forum. Don ’ t have a drop of alcohol before calling your AA buddy .
13. Become aware of self-talk. You talk to yourself, in your head, all the time — but much we ’ ra not aware of these thoughts. Start listening. These thoughts can derail any habit change, any finish. Often they ’ rhenium negative : “ I can ’ triiodothyronine do this. This is excessively difficult. Why am I putting myself through this ? How bad is this for me anyhow ? I ’ megabyte not firm enough. I don ’ t have adequate discipline. I suck. ” It ’ s important to know you ’ re doing this .
14. Stay positive. You will have negative thoughts — the crucial thing is to realize when you ’ re having them, and push them out of your head. Squash them like a microbe ! then replace them with a positive opinion. “ I can do this ! If Leo can do it, so can I ! ” : )
15. Have strategies to defeat the urge. Urges are going to come — they ’ ra inevitable, and they ’ re potent. But they ’ re besides irregular, and beatable. Urges normally last about a minute or two, and they come in waves of varying lastingness. You good need to ride out the wave, and the urge will go away. Some strategies for making it through the urge : thick breathing, self-massage, eat some frozen grapes, take a walk, practice, drink a glaze of water, call a support buddy, post on a back forum .
16. Prepare for the sabotagers. There will always be people who are veto, who try to get you to do your old habit. Be cook for them. Confront them, and be steer : you don ’ t need them to try to sabotage you, you need their digest, and if they can ’ triiodothyronine support you then you don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate want to be around them .
17. Talk to yourself. Be your own cheerleader, give yourself pep talks, repeat your mantra ( below ), and don ’ thyroxine be afraid to seem crazy to others. We ’ ll meet who ’ s crazy when you ’ ve changed your habit and they ’ re still lazy, insalubrious slob !
18. Have a mantra. For quitting smoking, mine was “ not One Puff Ever ” ( I didn ’ t make this up, but it worked — more on this below ). When I wanted to quit my sidereal day job, it was “ Liberate Yourself ”. This is just a direction to remind yourself of what you ’ re trying to do .
19. Use visualization. This is mighty. vividly picture, in your drumhead, successfully changing your habit. Visualize doing your newly habit after each trigger, overcoming urges, and what it will look like when you ’ re done. This seems new-agey, but it very works .
20. Have rewards. regular ones. You might see these as bribes, but actually they ’ re good incontrovertible feedback. Put these into your design, along with the milestones at which you ’ ll receive them .
21. Take it one urge at a time. Often we ’ ra told to take it one day at a time — which is good advice — but truly it ’ south one recommend at a time. just make it through this cheer .
22. Not One Puff Ever ( in other words, no exceptions ). This seems harsh, but it ’ s a necessity : when you ’ re trying to break the bonds between an old habit and a gun trigger, and form a modern attachment between the trip and a newfangled habit, you need to be actually consistent. You can ’ thyroxine do it sometimes, or there will be no newfangled bond, or at least it will take a actually in truth long time to form. therefore, at least for the first 30 days ( and preferably 60 ), you need to have no exceptions. Each time a gun trigger happens, you need to do the modern substance abuse and not the erstwhile one. No exceptions, or you ’ ll have a lapse. If you do mess up, regroup, learn from your mistake, plan for your success, and try again ( see the survive token on this tilt ) .
23. Get rest. Being tired leaves us vulnerable to relapse. Get a bunch of remainder so you can have the energy to overcome urges .
24. Drink lots of water. alike to the detail above, being dehydrated leaves us open to failure. Stay hydrated !
25. Renew your commitment often. Remind yourself of your commitment hourly, and at the begin and end of each day. Read your plan. Celebrate your achiever. Prepare yourself for obstacles and urges .
26. Set up public accountability. web log about it, post on a forum, email your commitment and daily build up to friend and family, post a chart up at your office, write a column for your local newspaper ( I did this when I ran my beginning marathon ). When we make it public — not equitable the commitment but the progress updates — we don ’ metric ton want to fail .
27. Engineer it so it’s hard to fail. Create a furrow that ’ sulfur hard to get out of than to stay in : increase positivist feedback for sticking with the habit, and increase negative feedback for not doing the habit. Read more on this method acting.

28. Avoid some situations where you normally do your old habit, at least for awhile, to make it a bite easier on yourself. If you normally drink when you go out with friends, consider not going out for a short while. If you normally go outside your office with co-workers to smoke, avoid going out with them. This applies to any bad substance abuse — whether it be eating junk food or doing drugs, there are some situations you can avoid that are particularly difficult for person trying to change a bad habit. Realize, though, that when you go binding to those situations, you will calm get the old urges, and when that happens you should be prepared .
29. If you fail, figure out what went wrong, plan for it, and try again. Don ’ thyroxine let failure and guilt stop you. They ’ rhenium just obstacles, but they can be overcome. In fact, if you learn from each bankruptcy, they become stepping stones to your success. Regroup. Let go of guilt. Learn. plan. And get back on that knight .

Your net worth to the universe is normally determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones. – Benjamin Franklin

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