More than 90% of your daily routine is comprised of various habits that create your behaviours. Most of these habits are performed subconsciously, which means that you are so used to doing them you don’t even think about them on a conscious level.

What separates the positive and negative people is that the positive people have habits and behaviours that are conducive to success, whilst the negative people have ones that facilitate failure in their lives.

Remember: you control your habits – they do not control you. Your life is the culmination of all the daily behaviours that you have chosen. You are where you are right now because of the behaviours that you have adopted in the past.

It is important to identify which habits in your life lead to negative consequences and which lead to positive rewards. The challenge with changing is there may not be instant gratification. If you change your habits, you’re not necessarily going to see an immediate effect. It is for this reason that people struggle with diets or can’t stop drinking, smoking, or spending money, because they can’t control the instant gratification that is delivered.

Experts in hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic Programming, which is the art and science of personal excellence, believe that it takes around 21 to 28 days to form the basis of a new habit or behaviour. The time it takes to replace an old one is inconclusive because it depends entirely on the person and how long they have owned it.

As with any newly learned behaviour, you may well experience some internal resistance for the first week or more. This is natural and it’s not going to be easy, so you have to mentally prepare for this challenge ahead of time. After you survive this first week, you will find that your new habit and behaviour becomes easier and easier to do and soon you don’t even have to think about doing it at all.

Here are a few useful tips to help you change your habits.

Do just one habit at a time: This is really important as changing habits is difficult, even with just one habit. If you do more than one habit at a time, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Keep it simple, allow yourself to focus, and give yourself the best chance for success.

Make a record: Just saying you’re going to change a habit is not enough of a commitment. You need to actually record what you are going to do.

Make a plan: This will ensure you’re really prepared. The plan must include: your reasons and motivations for changing; obstacles; triggers; people who will support you; and other ways you are committed to being successful.

Establish strong motives: You have to be very clear why you are changing your habit. If you are doing it for someone else with no real will then you are setting yourself up to fail.

Analyse your obstacles: If you have tried to change this habit before and it hasn’t worked, reflect on the reasons why and work out what stopped you from succeeding. Record every obstacle then create a plan of how to overcome them.

Identify your triggers: What situations trigger your current habit? Most habits have multiple triggers. Identify all of them and record them in your plan.

Ask for help: Get your family and friends and co-workers to support you. Ask them for their help, and let them know how important this is to you.

Become aware of self-talk: You talk to yourself, in your head, all the time and may not be consciously aware of what you are programming yourself with. Start listening to those thoughts because they can easily derail any habit, change or goal if you’re not careful.

Stay positive: You may well have some negative thoughts and the most important thing is to realise when you are having them and convert them into more positive thoughts. You are totally capable of doing this.

Avoid toxic people: There will always be people who are negative, who try to get you to revert to your old habit. Be ready for them and confront them. You don’t need them to try to sabotage you, you need their support, and if they can’t support you then avoid them if you can.

Use visualisation: Create a vivid picture, in your head, where you are successfully changing your habit. Visualise yourself doing your new habit. Your subconscious doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is artificial so you will project yourself into the desired state by constantly rehearsing for it.

Reward yourself: When you succeed, you deserve to reward yourself and this will incentivise and motivate you to keep going with whatever you are trying to achieve.

Take The 30 Day Challenge: Allow about 30 days to implement a new habit. This will help you to stay focused and consistent and build a routine. This is a round number and the successful outcome will vary from person to person and habit to habit. It is very good starting point.

About the author

Liggy Webb is widely respected as a specialist in the field of modern life skills. As a presenter, consultant and author she is passionate about her work and improving the quality of people’s lives. She has researched and developed a range of techniques and strategies to support individuals and organisations to cope more effectively and successfully with the demands and challenges of modern living.

Liggy is an international consultant for the United Nations and travels extensively working in a variety of worldwide locations. She is also the founding director of The Learning Architect an international learning and development organisation that specialises in behavioural skills, based in the UK.

Liggy’s new book Resilience, Published by Capstone, is out on 15 February 2013. For a free mini eBook and toolkit email

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