We all have some regular patterns of behaviors called habits, and as nobody is perfect, everyone has botHabits to Break or MakeCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lifeishhguuud/4430380799/lightbox/h good and bad habits. As part of the self-improvement process, which we all follow in a way or another, we either intend to develop some habits or get rid of them. Developing or getting rid of a habit is not a one-day task; it may require constant motivation for a considerable period in some cases. However, here are some steps to help those who are trying to develop, modify or break a particular behavior pattern or habit.

Be sure of what you want: Once you have set your goal, try to find a positive aspect in it. For example, instead of telling yourself that you need to quit snacking at night, you should tell yourself to develop a habit of eating healthy food. Striving for a positive goal like eating healthier food compared to a “negative” goal of avoiding snacking at night is more likely to be easier to accomplish. It also helps to write down your goal on a piece of paper or share it with someone as this gets you more motivated to achieve it

Find a substitute: quitting a behavior pattern is always easy when it is replaced with another. Therefore, whenever you are planning to quit a habit, it would be a good idea to try to find a substitute for it that can also keep you busy.

Identify the chain of activities that lead you to the unwanted habit: our behavior patterns are always linked with each other, no habit comes in isolation. For example, snacking at night is connected to watching television or surfing the net in the late hours. Once the behavior chain is identified, you may plan certain changes in the chain of activities such as going to bed early.

Remind yourself repeatedly Practice self-motivation by leaving notes on mirrors, refrigerator and office desk, etc. It is very important to constantly remind yourself of your goal repeatedly. For example, if you plan to go on diet you can leave a note on the refrigerator saying, “get back in shape.” Same kind of notes can be left on your office table etc. Peers can also remind you of your goal in order to keep you motivated to attain it.

Partner with people sharing the same aim it is always good to share your experience with one who is in the same situation. Learning from each other’s experience helps, you stay motivated to get to the result.

Writing is important to stay focused

In order to stay motivated and you should write your goal (in present tense) at least ten times a day for 40 days. For example, if you are planning to start taking 30 minute walks each day you should write, “I need to walk 30 minutes each day.” This helps your goal embed in your subconscious.

Reward yourself on milestones achieved: rewarding yourself on milestones achieved is a very useful motivational tool. For example, if you plan to lose 15 kgs of weight, give yourself a small treat when you have lost 5 kgs. The reward should be somewhat linked with the main goal. This will further drive you to achieve your goal.

Although these steps help many people, the degree of effectiveness widely depends on the nature of the goal and one’s personal commitment. In some cases, repeated efforts may be needed.