Changing personal habits

If you’ve often wished you had the strength of will to change that one bad habit, but have failed over and over. If you’ve repeatedly told yourself you are going to change this petty vice that you dislike in your personality but have never been able to stay with the preferred behavior more than a few hours or a day or two, there is hope. Best of all, the method is relatively simple and it doesn’t take a great deal of time or energy.

Habits are very ingrained things, they are things that have been done or seen for so long or so often that you no longer actually see them. That is one of the reasons why habits are so hard to change. Your mind is not resisting change; you really do want to change, it’s just that you are not used to thinking about the action that you’re performing that you call a habit. In order to change a habit, you need to find a way to remind yourself regularly that you’re in a self-improvement program.

One of the ways to remind yourself is to find a catch phrase about what you’d like to change. For example, if you’ve tried to break the habit of biting your nails but have not been successful. You keep biting your nails, because your brain doesn’t recognize that you are doing it. When is the last time you thought about chewing your food before swallowing it? So the first step is to develop your own personal catch phrase that will get your brain used to thinking about NOT biting your nails. Maybe it could be a phrase such as “Biting is bad” or “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” You may want to jot down a list of such phrases and choose the one that fits you the best.

Once you’ve chosen the catch phrase, and then determine to say it to your self regularly, as many times per day as you possibly can. You can write the phrase on a three by five card and put it on the refrigerator at eye level. You can stick it on the bathroom mirror. Each time you say it or see it, let your brain hear it. In other words, focus on the phrase long enough so that your brain will register that it’s being given something new to absorb.

In a day or so, you’ll want to move the cards to a different location so that it will continue to be a reminder to you. If the phrase is in the same place for more than a couple days, you soon will not see it either. You may need to enlist the help of a spouse or friend to move the card so that you will come upon it in unexpected places. How about the steering wheel of your car, or inside the shoe you will wear in the morning?

Within a few days of thinking of this catch phrase several times a day and focusing on the fact that you are no longer going to “bite the hand that feeds you,” you will find that as you thoughtlessly lift that finger to your lips, the phrase will come into your brain and you are reminded that you no longer are biting your nails.

You can use this method on any habit or character trait you want to work on and it usually requires about 21 days for your brain to be re-educated.


  1. Kava says:

    Motivation is the key to success. Period ;)

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