Consider the habits you have that eventually lead to unwanted, negative situations in your life.
Negative habits can produce results that are completely contrary to what you desire.
You wouldn’t consciously choose to keep yourself from what you truly want. But you keep repeating those habits anyway just because they are what they are: habits.
Honestly evaluate how what you’re doing is affecting your life. Maybe you haven’t achieved your work goals or your health isn’t as good as it could be because of your negative habits.
Subconsciously or even consciously, you experience some type of benefit from continuing to perform these negative habits and that’s one reason you continue them. But is that benefit more important to you than what you’ve dreamed for your life?
Tom wants to play basketball with the men in his neighborhood who get together every Saturday at 10 a.m. He used to love shooting hoops in college and for a few years afterward when he first started working. He was also in better physical condition then.
Even though he talks all the time about wanting to get back into shape, it’s a challenge because Tom is now 30 pounds overweight and already struggles with high cholesterol. After work during the week, Tom’s just too tired to do anything. And he loves to sleep in on Saturdays.
Tom feels entitled to stay in bed on Saturday mornings after getting up at 7:00 a.m. to go to work all week. So, he sleeps late — until around 9:00 a.m. Then he has his favorite breakfast: sausage, gravy, and biscuits with 2 glasses of milk, a glass of orange juice, and a banana. By the time he prepares and eats his breakfast, he’s in no condition to play basketball.
In this example, what are the benefits to Tom to keep repeating his Saturday morning habits? How is he being reinforced to continue the behaviors that are actually keeping him from what he truly wants?
1. He gets to lie in bed longer, which he apparently longs to do.
2. Tom loves the tastes of his breakfast. It feels decadent to him to eat a breakfast so full of fat, calories, and flavors. Frankly, it just tastes good.
3. There are no real demands on him during this time. He doesn’t have to get dressed, go out, or accomplish anything.
4. Tom deserves it. He’s convinced himself he deserves to lie in bed as long as he pleases, eat his unhealthy breakfast, and choose not to play basketball. Emotionally, he sends himself the message that after working all week, he can behave however he wants, regardless of the consequences long-term.
The fact is that Tom’s Saturday morning habits of sleeping late, eating a breakfast loaded with calories and fats, and avoiding playing basketball set the tone for his entire week and maybe even his life!
Tom has consciously convinced himself he’s doing what he wants. But is he really? After all, he’s repeating a series of bad habits.
Which would he truly choose — being in good physical condition by playing basketball and hanging out with the guys on Saturday morning or continuing to stay in the shape he’s in?
Take a minute or two to ponder the situations in your life you’d like to change. Are you like Tom — engaging in negative habits from which you consciously or unconsciously derive benefits?
How are you reinforcing your unsavory habits? What do you say to yourself that encourages you to continue repeating these actions?
If you see a bit of Tom in yourself, you might want to begin consciously focusing on the things that are more important to you to obtain a different, more pleasing result.
You’ll benefit even more from establishing a positive habit than you derive from repeating a negative habit.
Substitute Positive Habits for Your Negative Habits
To interrupt a negative habit, you could substitute a positive habit. Basically, you’re replacing an old, negative habit with a new, positive habit. Those positive actions will aid you in achieving the results you want in life.
Considering Tom’s scenario above, let’s apply this information.
Tom’s best bet is to realize the effects these habits are having on his life. Once he consciously connects with the damage he’s doing to himself by practicing these habits and decides that he truly wants to change, he can then begin work to build the life he truly seeks.
He can replace his negative habits with positive ones. To do this, Tom can:
1. Set his alarm on Saturdays for 8:30 a.m. He’ll still get an extra hour and a half of sleep.
2. Choose to eat a smaller breakfast of one piece of sausage, one biscuit, and one egg to experience the flavors he truly enjoys.
3. Show up to play basketball with the guys at 10:00 a.m.
4. Allow himself a couple of hours to rest after he shoots some hoops.
5. Repeat this behavior every Saturday consistently for 66 times. In the least, Tom should avoid skipping Saturdays during the first months of his new behavior.
6. Ensure he’s home on Friday nights so he’s in his own home (the same location) on Saturday mornings.
7. Establish situational cues to trigger him to perform the positive behaviors that will lead to habit formation. For example, Tom can lay out his basketball clothes and shoes so they’re the first things he sees when his alarm sounds.
Apply this type of thinking in your own case.
You are Stronger Than Failure,