· Day 1: Reflect and record your thoughts on Why Do I Engage in the Habit?
There is definitely something reinforcing about the habit, even if it is merely a convenient way to relieve stress. Jot down whatever reinforcers come to mind. For example, if you tend to eat more junk food when stressed, perhaps there is some calming effect that this has that can be substituted with a healthier alternative such as sipping tea and reading a favorite magazine.
· Day 2: What barriers get in the way of eliminating bad habits and acquiring good ones? For example, you may always use the excuse that you have no time to exercise or socialize; however, learning how to plan ahead when scheduling activities and priorities and scheduling these personal commitments when you have the most down time can serve as a counterargument to a common excuse like these.
· Day 3: Find a way to break your goals into smaller parts to make them more achievable. If your resolution is to eat healthier, keeping a food journal and designating certain days of the week to indulge in a treat of your choice is a good way to balance foods you need for nourishment and weight maintenance, while giving yourself something to look forward to on occasion.
· Day 4: Make a list of friends, relatives or contacts whom you can reach out to and discuss how you are progressing with your resolution, any setbacks and/or new approaches to achieving your goal. Make sure these are positive, supportive people.
· Day 5: List environmental situations that will help you best stay on top of your resolutions. For example, if your goal is to quit smoking, what environments are less likely to trigger the temptation and which ones that trigger it can you combat with a healthier choice such as talking with a friend or having a comforting cup of tea.
Along your journey to achieving your New Year’s goals, track your successful moments and describe what surrounding characteristics contributed to them and also what stressors contributed to setbacks. Re-create the scene for the setback in your mind and imagine yourself combating the bad habit with a positive situation or interaction with a positive person to lighten your stress load and replace your old habits with new and better ones.