Changing a habit is hard work and different processes work for different people. Blogger Sam Spurlin recommends you slow the process way down and concentrate on the reasons why for a full month before you start.
Photo by April.
Spurlin's idea is that you break down a habit into tiny chunks, and then concentrate on those chunks for an extended period of time. This doesn't just include your actions, but your thoughts. That means spending a month just thinking about the habit before making the change.
As an example, Spurlin lays out a process to tackle the bad habit of biting your nails:
- Spend a month thinking about and writing about why you want to stop biting your fingernails. Get every single reason, thought and impulse down on paper.
- Write down what you were doing and/or thinking about immediately before each time you started to bite your fingernails.
- Keep a running tally of every time you notice yourself biting your fingernails.
- Pick a hand. Focus on only using the nail clipper on that one hand for an entire month. Notice the difference between your hands. Which one feels better?
- Switch hands. Focus on only using the nail clipper on that one hand for an entire month. Notice the difference between your hands. Which one feels better?
- Spend a month not biting your fingernails. If you do, notice what you were thinking/doing when you did.
- Look at your notes and figure out how you can address those specific thoughts/activities (I've noticed I bite my fingernails when I'm reading so I gave myself something to chew on while I read, like a toothpick).
The process sounds absurdly slow, but that's how it's supposed to work. Habit formation is tough and in some cases takes a very regulated approach to really set it. It's different for everyone, but if you've been struggling to form (or get rid of) a habit, it's an approach worth considering.
30 Days Will Not Change Your Life [Sam Spurlin]