Manage your environment
New habits take time to become familiar, and we often forget to do what we want to do. So rearrange your environment to remind you. Sometimes a small sign is all you need. A Post-it® note on your telephone reminds you to take a deep breath and relax. A cartoon strategically placed invites you to smile. Placing your pills by your toothbrush prompts you to take them.
Sometimes we have to change our environment in order to change ourselves. The alcoholic who’s giving up drinking, for example, avoids bars. Start by removing anything associated with your habit. If you smoke, remove ashtrays and throw away your lighter. If you drink, clear out the alcohol cupboard, give away your favorite beer mug, and press the mute button during beer commercials. If you eat too much, remove tempting foods.
Some things may be difficult to do if you share your home. You may have to negotiate with your family, partners, or roommates, or come up with some new arrangements.
Celebrate your quit day
Make a big deal of the day you quit your habit. Set this date in advance so that you can prepare for it. Celebrate the day in a way that seems appropriate. Have a last drink or cigarette the night before; then do something that makes you feel good about your new life the next day. Plan fun things for your quit day.
Substitute healthy pleasures
It can be difficult to just stop without replacing an addiction with another activity. But don’t exchange one bad habit for another! Don’t eat too much to avoid cravings for cigarettes, for example, or don’t get drunk instead of high on cocaine.
Replace your bad habit with something healthy. For instance, chew carrot sticks when you give up smoking, go to the movies instead of the pub, take a walk, do an enjoyable hobby, and eat your favorite fruit at lunch time instead of chowing down a high-calorie dessert.
Revise your plan
When your initial short-term plan is complete, evaluate the results:
- Were you able to stick to the plan? If not, what got in the way?
- How can you revise the plan to be more successful for the next step?
Successful plans are often just revisions of unsuccessful ones. Remember, to achieve your overall goal, you will require a series of successful (or revised unsuccessful) short-term plans.
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