The short answer is: “Yes you can – with a replacement habit”.
The idea of the replacement habit is very simple – yet it is very powerful too. That’s why it is a life changer, if done consistently.
Replace a bad habit with a good one
In essence, the replace habit is just choosing one action instead of another. In other words, you are not sticking to the same old way of acting anymore – you perform the action differently.
Let’s say that you have been eating a daily chocolate bar. To improve your health (and lose some weight in the process) you decide to replace the chocolate bar with a daily green smoothie.
If you keep executing the replacement habit (and choosing the green smoothie) consistently, you will start to see changes in your body. This will also improve your self-confidence because you realize that you look better when looking at yourself on the mirror.
The crucial part of the replacement habit is changing a less-desired habit with a good one. Replacing a bad habit with another bad one will make your situation even worse (for e.g. choosing to eat two chocolate bars on a daily basis instead of one).
You are not just replacing, but you are also choosing
Something very important happens before you actually execute the replacement action: choosing.
You do the choosing in your mind and the actual replacement is a concrete action step in this process. That’s why you need to think carefully in every situation what you choose to do.
Just replacing (taking action) something is not enough. Your whole mindset has to change too, so that you make favorable decisions on a continual basis. Otherwise your replacement habit will die soon.
Replacement habit and your goals
Replacing one bad action with a good one is a critical component when you want to move towards your goals.
If you have set a goal to lose 5 pounds of your weight, there are many elements that you need to get right: nutrition, exercise, mindset and rest. In those four elements I would like to stress the importance of the mindset, because without a proper mindset you are making your journey too hard on yourself.
Mindset plays a big part in the replacement habit too. If you don’t see your decisions (and your actions) important to you, then reaching your goal becomes very hard. On the other hand, if you realize that (almost) every decision and action step counts and you act accordingly, then you will be amongst the winners.
Space rockets face the resistance in the beginning too
When your mindset is like: “I choose to replace that chocolate bar with a green smoothie” and you actually implement that mindset in practice over and over again, it becomes a habit. The next time you don’t have to think so hard whether you should choose the chocolate bar or the green smoothie.
However, in order to make the replacement automatic, some initial effort is needed. The fact is that when you start with a replacement habit, you are going to face internal resistance
from your part.
This is called “escape velocity”: it’s like a rocket that is going to need all the possible thrust force to escape from the atmosphere to space, where the earth gravity is less existent. Earth’s forces are it’s strongest in the beginning but after reaching the space, less energy and force is needed to move the rocket.
The same it is with new habits and when replacing a bad one with a good one: In the launch phase the old habits are come back very easily if you are not careful. However, once you reach the “space”, this is when you have “escaped” from your old habits and a new one comes more and more automatic.
The best way to get into the “space” is to clearly describe the scenario in your head in which situations the possible replacement action is going to happen.
Also, it is important to see the exceptional situations when the circumstances make the replacement harder than usual (for example when travelling it is easier to grab a chocolate than a smoothie). That way you can prepare and have a plan b for exception times.
Like with all the habits, the beginning phase is the most crucial. If you really want to implement a new habit successfully, you have to make the effort. Forming new habits is not impossible – it just takes some time and patience to master it (depending of course what you are going to replace with what).
Start out small
To succeed with your replacement habit, you have to start out small. Don’t try to replace old action pattern to a new one too fast.
For instance, if you have been a late riser, but you decide to become an early riser, my best advice is to start out small. Wake up earlier bit by bit until you have reached your target wake up time.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that you cannot make big habit replacements at once – yes you can (like waking up the next morning at 5 AM)! But for most of the people, the gradual change is better than changing too much at once.
When changing your current action patterns, one powerful way to do it is to apply the replacement habit.
The idea behind is that you replace a bad habit/action with a good one – for example a chocolate bar with a green smoothie.
If you are consistent with your efforts, the replacement habit has a potential of changing your life for good.
It is also worth noticing, that the replacement is just an action step you take. Your mindset plays a much bigger role in this game. That’s why you need to have the right mindset for making right justifications for your actions and decisions. These will lead to replacing the bad action with a good one.
Your next tasks:
1. Put this blog post into action!
- Figure out what small action you would like to change in your daily life
- Create a plan for executing the replacement action (the bad with the good one) on a daily basis – this forms a good new habit
- Once you master changing one aspect in your life, focus on another replacement action
2. Share your experiences and tips on the comment area:
- What bad habits/actions you have replaced with a good one?
- How long did it take to form that a habit?
3. Spread the word:
- I would appreciate it if you share this post on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn or on BizSugar (click the vertical share bar on the left).