9 New Rules for Making Habits That Stick
Admit it: You drink at least two cans of Diet Coke a day. Or like 28 percent of Americans, you hit the drive-through once a week. Or like roughly 16 percent of women, you still smoke. You know you shouldn't, but the real reason you can't stop yourself may be because you haven't admitted that these "bad" habits are actually solutions instead of problems, says executive coach Deborah Grayson Riegel, author of Oy Vey! Isn't a Strategy: 25 Solutions for Personal and Professional Success. Don't think your habit could possibly be doing you any favors? Grayson Riegel begs to differ: Diet Coke provides energy when you're tired; fast food saves time when you're too overscheduled to plan, prepare, and cook a meal; cigarettes give you a feeling of belonging to a community, a me-time break from work or a sense of rebelliousness. Once you've identified the problem your vice is solving, give yourself some credit: There's no question that you have the power to troubleshoot your own problems. Then ask yourself, "What would I be capable of if I used my conscious mind to develop a new, healthier strategy?" "You'll be far more successful if you can replace the original action with something that gets you the same reward," says Alexandra Jamieson, holistic health counselor and author of Women, Food, and Desire: Embrace Your Cravings, Make Peace with Food, Reclaim Your Body. "Try transforming a habit by substituting something else enjoyable: If ice cream is your go-to comfort food, try taking a bath with a few drops of grapefruit essential oil, which is still sensory," says Jamieson. "If you'd normally swing by the drive-through after a bad day at work, try stopping at a stationery store if that's your thing and buy a cute card. You still have the problem of wanting to feel comforted, but now you have solutions in place that aren't bad for you, making them guilt-free and far more sustainable."
— Sarah Z. Wexler
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