Habits, once formed, never go away. They are the outcome of old decisions, and they can be changed, but only through new decisions and choices. Habits aren’t necessarily bad; they make our lives easier and more predictable by removing the necessity of thinking about every detail of our daily existence. They let us execute our actions efficiently, freeing up our prefrontal cortex to express itself creatively and intellectually.
But sometimes bad habits can creep in and good habits can be so very difficult to cultivate. As we start out a new year with fresh resolutions, it seems the appropriate time to get advice on keeping those resolutions by forming healthy and productive habits.
Enter self-published Outskirts Press author Dr. Sylvie Heyman.
Although initially Dr. Heyman specialized in weight management and life style changes, she has expanded her area of expertise to other habits that affect body, mind and spirit. Here, she offers other writers and self-publishing authors like herself advice on how to stay on track in the new year. This information and much more is available in her book, Make It a HABIT!
How do habits form? A habit cue or trigger could be a specific time of day, a location, other people, emotions or other things that lead to a predictable response, or reward. With repetition, our responses to triggers become automatic and a habit is born. Motivation may get us started, but habit keeps us going.
If your resolution in the new year is to get published, Dr. Sylvie can help with these seven tips for identifying habits that might be holding you back, or establishing new ones that will move you forward:
- Be aware and mindful. We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge, right? Observe your habits, good and bad — write them down if that helps. Be honest with yourself about your habits, good and bad.
- Assess yourself. Ask yourself which habit you want to change or acquire first and why you want it. Think about how the habit you wish to change (or the one you wish to acquire) affects or will affect you and others.
- Be accountable. Share your habit change with someone. This makes you accountable for that change until you can ingrain new habits or break bad ones. Confide in another writer, a spouse, coworker or another reliable and honest confident.
- Make small changes, one at a time. Concentrate on establishing small habits until they become second nature, then move onto the next small change. If your habit is to get distracted when you’re supposed to be writing, first change the habit of turning on the TV or radio. Once you’ve broken that habit, move on to, say, writing for just 10 minutes straight to get the feel for focusing.
- Test your willpower — but not too much! When willpower is applied in small increments at a time, when you are energetic and ready to take on a little challenge, willpower becomes stronger. Practice willpower in small steps until it becomes a habit — until it’s automatic.
- Trick your triggers. Practice breaking the associations between bad habits and their triggers. The aforementioned habit of letting media distract you is a good example. Break the association between writing and watching TV by moving to a different room or chair during your writing session.
- Give it time. There are many theories about how long it takes to form or break a habit, ranging from a few weeks to years! Use 30 days as a guidepost, but know that some deeply ingrained habits will take much longer to break, and new habits without awareness, accountability and practice will take some time to take hold.
MORE ABOUT THE BOOK: Make It a HABIT!
Want to learn more? In Make It a HABIT! Dr. Sylvie Heyman provides a different perspective on how habits can affect your body, mind and spirit. Through personal stories, case studies and a compilation of best practices for change, you can learn how to get rid of habits that are sabotaging your health, job, relationships and overall happiness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Sylvie Heyman has extensive background in traditional and non- traditional healthcare practices and has incorporated health coaching in all her careers. She specialized in Obstetrics and later on headed the Open Heart Surgery Unit at prestigious St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, New York. She earned her Doctor of Chiropractic in 1989 and her degree in Acupuncture in 1998. She served 12 years as a member of the Board of Trustees of the New York Chiropractic College and delivered a Commencement address during that period. Dr. Heyman is a certified Feng Shui Consultant, a certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant (AFPA), a certified Senior Fitness Specialist (NASM) and Silver Sneakers Instructor.