For some people, a new year means a fresh start. Analyzing the previous year can help shed insight into what you would like the coming year to look like. Losing weight may be the most popular resolution among those that make them, while others seek to make better money choices, spend more time building a dream, or eliminating an unhealthy habit. Jazzercise Founder and CEO Judi Sheppard Missett stated that dropping bad habits will create room for good habits to flourish.
Breaking Down Bad Habits
• Cognitive script is the main reason researchers believe that bad habits are hard to break. These are the unconscious, automatic thoughts we have when we encounter a situation.
• Some bad habits are hard to break because they begin as enjoyable activities, such as “saving time” while sending emails from a smartphone during a meeting.
• When we do pleasurable things, our brain releases dopamine, a chemical that activates the brain's reward center
. This encourages us to do those things again, and the activity eventually becomes a habit.
• You can break bad habits and ideally, replace them with positive behaviors.
• Research shows that you will need to engage in an alternative behavior or thought pattern consistently for an average of 66 days in order for it to become a habit.
Grooming Good Habits
• Making goals improves your odds of success. "Studies show that people who resolve to change behaviors do much better than non-resolvers who have the same habits that need to be changed," says John Norcross, a University of Scranton psychologist.
• Formulating a concrete plan is the first step in overcoming bad habits. Incorporate habit-breaking into your personal goals and review your progress on a regular basis.
• Changing the way you perceive things has a tremendous affect. Instead of saying, “I can’t have chocolate cake,” say, “I can, but I don’t want to.”
• "I ask my clients to imagine themselves practicing a behavior change two weeks out, two months out, two years out, and if the answer is ‘I can’t’, then we re-evaluate to make sure the goal is doable," says Lisa Powell, MS, RD, Director of Nutrition for Canyon Ranch, Tucson. "Breaking down a lofty goal into smaller steps is often what is needed to gain the belief that you can do it."
• Make small changes instead of going cold turkey. If you want to spend less time watching TV and more time in the garden, push back the time you would normally watch TV by one hour. Every week, increase your garden time by 15 minutes.