The Mayfield Library’s September Challenge: Break a Bad Habit.

Let’s face it. We all have them: those annoying habits that keep us from enjoying life as much as we could and certainly from being as productive as we know we can be. So the September challenge is to take on one of those irritating bad habits and conquer it for thirty days.

Now, I can you hear you groaning: “What? I can’t do this. I have no willpower. It’s too hard.”

We’re not talking about forever. You’re just committing to thirty days. After that, you can return to your habit if you wish. Second, we’re going to use some of the most current research on change that might make things easier.

First, you don’t have to rely on willpower alone. In fact, the authors of the book, Change Anything indicate that there are so many forces surrounding us that encourage us to indulge in bad habits that willpower, by itself, may not be effective. Instead, you need to analyze and change the six major sources of influence:

  • Personal Motivation. You have to keep your long-term goal in mind when enticed by your more-immediate impulses.
  • Personal Ability: You must learn new skills that will enable the new habit.
  • Social Motivation: Almost all bad habits are accompanied by ‘friends’ who encourage them. So get social support for the habit you want.
  • Social Ability: Find a teacher, someone who has kicked the bad habit or has the habit you want to gain.
  • Structural Motivation: Make up a system of short-term rewards and behaviors to the new habit.
  • Structural Ability: Modify your environment to keep your bad habit away and encourage a good one.
We’ll look at some of these things in more depth as the month goes on. If you are interested in reading further, I do recommend Change Anything. This book takes a systems approach to creating good habits and is worth your time.
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