Tomorrow we'll be a week into the period of Lent and, whether you're religious or not, it's a time when many people choose to give up something for the duration - 40 days.
Someone once sent me a note along the lines of, 'I'm not religious at all but as of tomorrow I'm giving up:
Hope I can do it.'
My first thought was I wonder which will be the biggest challenge. Turned out it was cake.
For some people, the idea of giving up anything is daunting. Others seem to take on such challenges with ease. We know because we've worked with many of them. So I thought it worth sharing some thoughts on what makes people successful with removing certain behaviours from their life, whatever time of year they decide to do so.
1. It helps to have an alternative or substitute for each of the items that you're trying to remove from your routine. Feeling as though you're missing out is a sure-fire way to send you running straight for whatever it is you're trying to avoid. For the example above, this person could snack on nuts instead of chocolate, drink herbal tea instead of coffee and they'll need to plan carefully what their lunch options will be if they're trying to avoid bread.
2. Be very clear about why you are making your chosen changes. Remind yourself regularly throughout the day of the good reasons for sticking with your choices. This is crucial. Without this context to change your behaviour, you'll quickly fall back into old routines. Write down everything you will gain from making change and focus on this until you no longer think about anything you're losing.
3) Acknowledge your progress regularly and very quickly your chosen new behaviours will become as well practiced and easy to follow as the habits you're replacing. Tick off each day you complete as you intended according to your new plan and after just a few days you'll never look back.
And one last thing. Those that succeed with lifestyle changes usually adopt the inner thoughts of, 'this is easy, I can do this, I want to make this work' rather than the thoughts which can limit success of others such as, 'this is so hard, I wish I hadn't started this, I'd kill for a coffee / chocolate bar / drink right now.'
Think seriously about what you want to change and when the time is right, commit to it whole heartedly and never doubt your ability to succeed.