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If you’ve ever made a firm commitment to change your attitude or behavior and then abandoned the plan that same week, you know how reluctant people are to change. Our habits tend to give us a sense of certainty about life and so we cling to them. Attempting to break a bad habit or acquire a new one, even if it’s for the better, can make us feel uncomfortable and leads us back to the familiar.
To Encourage Behavioral Change:
- Take One Small Step
Thinking about the work involved in changing a behavioral pattern can stop us before we begin. Instead of picturing the project as overwhelming, remember that change happens with that first small step. It is with the accumulation of all those little steps that you’ll reach your goal.
- The Key To Change
Troublesome behavioral patterns take some time to acquire and it takes some time to change them. The key to behavior change is to define exactly what you want to change, then set realistic goals and reward yourself for every positive movement.
- Be Specific
The statement, “I’m going to get some exercise,” is a start toward defining a behavioral change but doesn’t set forth how you’re going to accomplish it. Deciding, “I will set aside twenty minutes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings to walk,” is a more specific plan with a realistic goal. Later, if you want to increase the time, you will have already established a pattern of success. After one week of meeting your commitment, reward yourself with something you enjoy, such as buying a book or going to a movie.
- Record Your Progress
Another way to change behavior is to record your accomplishments or post a chart on a wall where you can see your progress. That kind of positive feedback can do wonders for motivation toward further effort and achievement.