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How To Change A Habit

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. But, why do we keep making that same mistake over and over again?
It’s become a habit.

As Dr. Caroline Leaf stated in her podcast “Why We Keep Making The Same Mistakes + Tips to Break Bad Habits,” we keep making the same mistakes because we are not learning from our mistakes. She goes on to say that our minds were designed to self-regulate our thoughts. It is up to each individual to observe, analyze, and change thoughts that are not beneficial.

When we do not analyze our thoughts or behaviors, over time, they become behavioral or thought habits. Because it has taken time to build the habit, it will take time and work to change the habit.

“So, if we just brush mistakes aside, they will grow and affect how we think speak, and act!” Dr. Caroline Leaf.

What Are Triggers

You might ask, “What do triggers have to do with habits?”

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Think back. Have you noticed an unpleasant emotion that rises when a certain topic is mentioned or thought about? You might feel angry, guilty, sad, or anxious. Do you put yourself down or stay in the past remembering for a few minutes? You may notice, when the subject comes up, that it really bothers you. It could be about a personal issue, money, romantic relationships, or any other subject. The subject doesn’t matter. What matters is that it causes an emotional response inside you.

Not recognizing or changing these triggers is a large part of the reason we keep making the same mistake over and over, which creates a habit. Once we become aware of the trigger we can become proactive, taking steps to change the habit. At least, it is the first step to recognizing the trigger and avoiding future mistakes.

Undoubtedly, it would much easier to keep reacting to the trigger, because the behavior or thought has become automatic. When you respond, your behavior or thought eventually becomes automatic. When it becomes automatic it takes much less energy because it is fixed in your unconscious mind.

It is often more comfortable to continue to respond, act, or speak, in ways that are familiar even though it causes pain and discomfort.

Do You Really Want To Change

But remember, change can also cause pain and discomfort. The key to overcoming the pain and discomfort is really “wanting to change” bad enough to make it happen.

Because your response is so ingrained in your subconscious, you have to decide if you really, really want the change. Ask yourself these questions:

· Am I willing to work hard at changing my habit?

· Does my habit impact others around me? Does the impact concern me enough to experience the pain of changing my habit?

· Is it worth putting in the time and energy needed to make the change?

· Are you fed-up enough to stop making the same mistakes over and over again?

· Do I want to achieve my goals enough to do the work?

Recognizing Triggers

Here are some generic situations and questions to get you started identifying your triggers:

1. A friend or relative shares their exciting news with you. You are happy for them but you notice you are experiencing feelings of jealousy or envy. What is the news about?

· Job promotion

· New car or house

· Getting married

· New relationship

· Expecting a baby

· Or____________

2. Do you continuously compare yourself to someone on social media? Questions to help identify the trigger:

· What is bothering you about the person’s posts?

· How do you deal with it?

3. Is there a certain topic of conversation that triggers an emotional reaction in you when you are around co-workers, friends, or family?

· Yes, when they talk about ___________________?

4. Identify any other topics of conversation or situations that cause negative emotions to arise. Identify the topic or situation.

Time To Change A Habit??

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Change takes time. Don’t expect your triggers and habits to go away overnight. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you make a mistake or fail and yield to your habit!!

Trying to change too fast will cause stress and anxiety, which will actually impede your progress to change (Shame Spiral).

Create A Plan

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

2 days

Give yourself 2 days, after hearing about the information or noticing your trigger, to decide to keep or discard the idea.

Let’s use Guitar Practice as our example. You spend at least 1 hour and sometimes 2 hours practicing your lesson every day. You notice you are getting bored and start playing something totally unrelated to your lesson. When it’s time to go back to your teacher you don’t know the material. You haven’t really practiced.

Image by Vlad Vasnetsov from Pixabay

Image by Vlad Vasnetsov from Pixabay


You have a friend who started playing the guitar at the same time. The two of you wanted to start a band together. You notice that he is playing riffs and using techniques that you just can’t play. You become jealous every time he starts talking about what he’s learning.

Choice: You have 2 days to decide to do whatever is necessary to change or discard the idea, which would ultimately lead to you giving up on the idea of being a guitarist in a band.

3 days

Add 1 more day. You have a total of 3 days (72 hours) to make a final decision to DO IT or NOT.

· Decide on a specific amount of time to think deeply about this issue.

· Evaluate if this is your fault.

· Are you really practicing correctly?

· Get help determining a practice schedule if you can’t do it yourself.

Don’t allow yourself to go into depression, mental fatigue, anxiety, or beat yourself up for not practicing the way you should? (Or whatever the issue might be.)

Set a limited amount of time to evaluate the issue and focus on a plan of action to improve the situation.

If you decide to go ahead with your plan, it’s time to create a GOAL. Write down your goal in a journal where you can review and add to it. Write about your triggers and your mistakes. But most of all, write about how you are going to change. It’s as important to identify why you need to change and how you are going to change.

· What do you really want to do about being a guitarist?

· Is a one-on-one teacher needed or are you going with online lessons?

· Do you need a different teacher?

· Can you design your own practice routine?

Practice Schedule

Create a Practice Routine Schedule, which will help you streamline your practice and keep you on task to fulfill your goal of being a guitarist. The schedule should be for 21 days (3 weeks).

Check out this website. Or, even better ask your teacher to help you. If you go to a website for online video guitar lessons, they will give you a practice routine. Download the practice schedule on You will find examples or links to Practice Routine Schedules.

21 days (time needed to create a new habit)

In your journal write about:

· Why you need to change.

· Every time you are triggered, write everything you can about the situation and the emotion.

· Identify how you reacted to the trigger.

· Did you make a mistake?

· How you can intentionally change the way you react to the trigger.

· Write all your thoughts down about your trigger and behavior, so you can analyze your pattern of behavior and make the necessary changes.

· Remember that Positive Builds and Negative Destroys.

Continue with your Practice Routine Schedule. Make sure you practice the allotted time on each technique etc. Mark your practice schedule when completed. Make small changes to your schedule if your writing dictates a change.

Things to Be Aware of In Your Practice

1. Make sure your guitar is in tune. If you know you are playing the right notes, but it doesn’t sound right, tune your guitar.

2. Don’t try to learn everything quickly. Beginning guitarists are often intrigued by the novelty of playing. They want to learn everything quickly, which results in them not learning the material well. This often applies to a student rushing to learn scales. As TrueFire lessons tell you, make sure you learn each lesson or each scale really well before moving on. In the video guitar lessons, they recommend that you play each lesson with the instructor over and over until you know the material and can play it without the instructor.

3. Play the guitar in the wrong position. It is important that you are comfortable and still able to play the right sounds easily. This is an easy answer. Buy a guitar strap so you are always in a good position.

4. DO NOT practice bits and pieces. Too many times beginning students play bits and pieces of the lessons or just one song, usually because they just like the sound or the feel of those particular riffs or techniques. This isn’t practicing.

Follow your practice routine schedule. If you have a teacher or are doing video lessons stick to their lesson and practice plan.

TrueFire Practice Instructions

Here’s how their courses work: first the instructor will show you something, then they’ll have you play it along with them. You should go over the Practice Session video as many times as you need to get it down. Once you have it, then move on to the next Practice Session, or the next lesson. This way you’ll make sure you’re progressing and getting a solid foundation. Take as long as you need, and don’t just skim over anything. These lessons are designed to take you step by step, so if you gloss over anything you’ll be missing some valuable skills you’ll need later.

63 days

It takes 63 days or 3 sets of 21 days to make your new behavior a LIFE LONG HABIT.

You must be consistent about analyzing and writing about your triggers. As you progress toward your 63 days it will become easier and you will be triggered less often. That means fewer mistakes.

Repetition is the “mother of memory.” The more you stick to your journaling and your Practice Routine Schedule, the stronger your new thoughts and habits will become. Your memory RECALL will become stronger and quicker.

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

Stay focused on your plan and your lessons so you don’t get off in the weeds. To create a new habit, you must stay on task with your schedule.

It is a simple process to create new habits and delete old triggers, but it is not easy.


I have illustrated how to work the principles using guitar practice. These same principles can apply to any habit or mistake, just follow the same procedure.

1. Identify the habit or mistake

2. What triggers the habit

3. Give yourself 2 days to decide to change or keep the habit

4. In the first 3 days, finalize your decision to DO IT or NOT.

5. If you decide to make the change CREATE A PLAN.

6. Stick to your plan for 21 days — your new habits have been formed.

7. Continue your new habit for 2 more sets of 21 days, a total of 63 days. You now have a new Life Time Habit.


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