How To Change a Habit

So you’re considering making a change: quitting smoking, drinking less, losing weight, or maybe starting an exercise program. How can you get motivated and stay motivated? It’s not a matter of needing enough “willpower”; anyone can make positive changes by taking certain steps.

  • Review your reasons for changing. Maybe a doctor or family member told you that you “should” improve your diet. Is that enough of a reason for you? If not, make a list of reasons to change until you feel convinced that it’s a good idea.
  • Create a mental picture of what you will be like after you have made the desired changes . Practice visualizing the new you regularly to make it more real.
  • Break the goal down into small steps that are easy to accomplish. You may not be ready to run three miles, but you might be able to start by walking one block or climbing a flight of stairs. Next week, make it two.
  • Be sure that your plan is appropriate for you. Just because your best friend quit cigarettes “cold turkey” doesn’t mean that you can. Your program for change should be customized to meet your needs.
  • “Join the club.” Why tough it out alone when you could find a partner or support group to ease the way? If you hit a rough spot, it helps to have others who can encourage you and give you tips on how to keep going.
  • Give yourself time . It can take several weeks or longer for your body to get used to lifestyle changes. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a little while for new habits to settle in.
  • Be open to new ideas . If your first approach isn’t working, ask others in your support network for suggestions. There may be techniques you haven’t considered that would help move you to the next level.