In general, habits are not bad. Consider all the things you do out of habit. You know, without thinking. say “God bless you” when someone sneezes; you get in your car and immediately fasten your seatbelt. But not all habits are in your best interest. You light up a cigarette and not even realize it or grab a few M&Ms each time you pass the dish on the living room table. All of a sudden, you realize they’re all gone. Wouldn’t it be nice to get your long finger nails manicured? Too bad you bite them so short. Free


What can you do to “save” yourself from your not–so–good habits? Identify why you want to stop and then set a goal. If you take the money you’d normally spend on cigarettes and put it into an awesome tackle box, or if you’re a woman, into a pretty gift box, in a few months you’d be able to buy that new fishing rod or piece of jewelry. Make your efforts count.

And for goodness’ sake, be patient with yourself and the process. It’s like when you begin a new workout routine. If you overdo it, you get sore and discouraged that nothing is happening. But if you start slowly and work at it steadily, you’ll accomplish more. Remember, you’re forging a new path that will commence near the old one (your old habit), but as you work at it, it will begin to veer away, creating that new path. Free

Have you ever thought about what the catalyst is for your action&ndashy;biting your nails when you’re frustrated, eating a large piece of chocolate cake when you’re mad at your spouse? Don’t make excuses, you’re not telling anyone what’s going on. Be honest.

Do you have lots of reasons to give up that bad habit? Big deal. What you need in order to make changes is action. You need to take a step; then another; and then another. Reading up on health issues is good, but if you want to stop snacking on junk food, you need to stop buying junk food. If you want to get rid of the cough, stop buying cigarettes.

We repeatedly do things because of what we get out of the action. So reward yourself when you’ve been good and give yourself negative reinforcement each time you fall back to the habit you’re trying to break. Free

Need help walking on the new path? Have a friend work with you. This person can alert you when you move off the path. You could pay him/her a dollar each time you say a bad word, or snap your gum, or interrupt a conversation. You might even try leaving yourself notes encouraging you to stay fast in your efforts.

Breaking old habits and creating new ones is challenging and takes time. Hang in there and be persistent. Before you know it, the old habits will have diminished and the positive ones will have taken their place.

By  Susan Incardona

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