Helen Hand, Ph.D., CFU president
Changing habits is how we change our lives. The advent of a New Year is a time when we naturally think about changes we want to make. For change to stick, it has to become habit. Breaking bad habits or building new habits can be tough. Keeping in mind a few basic principles can help.
Principles to keep in mind when
- Make change incrementally. If you set your sights too high, you’ll overwhelm yourself, get discouraged and give up. Break new behaviors into smaller pieces and take one step at a time. Rather than thinking about losing 20 lbs, perhaps start with choosing salads as your side dish rather than french fries.
- The changes you make have to be rewarding to you as you make them. If your gratification comes only way down the road, you’ll lose motivation. Find rewards that you can embed in each phase of the behavior change. If the goal, for instance, is to work out more, don’t wait for feeling healthier to be your reward, find small pleasures that you can connect to the behaviors along the way, like gym with a friend.
- Behaviors are triggered by the cues in our environment. The ping of your phone on the desk next to you makes you pick it up and check your messages. To stop bad habits, you need to remove or disrupt the cues that trigger the behavior. To build new habits, find cues that can remind you to do the behavior. If your seeking to stay more focused at work, think about putting your phone out of sight and set a timer that you can see to keep you working for 30 uninterrupted minutes.
- It takes many repetitions for a behavior to become entrenched. To break a bad habit, you have to disrupt it over and over. For a new behavior to become automatic, you have to enact the change many times over a period of at least a month. Behavior specialists have recommended that to lessen negative self-talk, you put a rubber band on your wrist that you snap whenever your inner critic starts to pipe up. In a similar vein, place that stickie on the mirror to remind you to give yourself those positive messages on a regular basis.
- The easier things are, the more likely we’ll do them. It’s pretty simple—we humans take the path of least resistance. To break bad habits, we have to build resistance into the process, making it harder for us to do the behavior. To build a new behavior, we can make the path as smooth as we can, removing obstacles and giving ourselves supports along the way.
- Positive behaviors stick better when they are integrated into our fundamental concept of who we are. Being able to say “I am a nonsmoker” is hugely gratifying and lets me know I’m living my values.
CFU classes are here to help
Classes at Colorado Free University are created to support change and the building of new habits and skills. Here are a few of the things you can expect to get from taking classes:
- Information and insight that helps you identify and define the changes you want to make.
- Practical tools you can put to use right away to make change.
- Short, bite-sized opportunities for learning and change. The process of registering is easy and classes are affordable.
- Motivation. Just get yourself registered and when you show up you’ll be met with encouraging, inspiring instructors who will support your efforts and help you stay on track.
- Connections with other active, engaged and independent-minded people who will make the process of change more fun along the way.
- So many classes! Taking a class can be both a way to gain more tools for change and a way to reward yourself along the way.
- Becoming a lifelong learner can boost your sense of yourself and build your identity as an empowered, self-determined, and informed person. Knowing that you are building new skills and enriching your life on a regular basis lifts you up and helps all the other behavior changes easier to make.
Colorado Free University has a wide menu of classes that can give you information and inspiration for all areas of your life. Here are a few of our classes that focus specifically on making the changes you want to make in who you are and how you live.
1/22—Anxiety 101: How Your Brain Makes You Anxious & What You Can Do to Change It (#1962J)
1/22—Discover Your Talents: Develop Your Strengths (#3326AI)
1/24—Intro to EFT: A Powerful Tool Anyone Can Use (#4619AF)
1/25—Get Paid What You’re Worth! Maximize Your Salary Through Effective Negotiation (#3342V)
1/26—Neurosculpt Your Way to Health, Happiness & Peak Performance (#5105AK)
1/26—Beginning Juggling: Enhance Your Health While Having Fun (#7744P9)
1/30—Preserving Your Legacy: Create Your Own Ethical Will (#6631P)
2/1—Assertiveness for Everyone (#3162 F)
2/1—Meditation for Our Modern Lives: Yoga of the Mind (#2482EB)
2/3—Professional Networking: Take Your Business or Career to the Next Level (#3133A)
2/5—7 Dynamics that turn Good Relationships Bad: How to Fix Them or Move On (#3257AN)
2/5—Past Live Regression (#5559BM)2/8–Hypnosis for Stress Relief (#2556V)
2/13—Take Control of Your Life: Set Healthy Boundaries (#5549HW)2/16—Find Your Compass: Mapping Your Life with Purpose (#2087E)
2/16—Personal Spiritual Enlightenment & You (#1961U)
Starts 2/24—The Art of the Soul of Money (4 session series that can be taken as a package or one-by-one) (#8911AA)
2/25–Get (and Give) What You Need: Using Emotional Intelligence in Relationships (#4528O)
3/3—From Resolution to Actualization: Using Hypnosis to Achieve Your Goals (#2558L)
3/7 & 3/14—The Art of Being a Man: Navigating Relationships in the Modern Era (#4331K)
3/9—From Survival to Trival: Transform You Mindset & Lifestyle (#8825S)
3/18—Discover Your Dream Job: Using Your Interests to Develop Your Career (#1945AD)
3/30—Don’t Weight Any Longer: Hypnosis for Weight Loss (#2555EA)
3/28—Recipe for Genius: Practical & Effective Tools for Creating a Thriving Artistic Experience (#8904L)
4/25—The $50 Wealth-Builder (#6654AE)