If you have tried to eliminate a bad habit, you know how difficult change can be. Your good intentions fall apart as you try to eliminate overeating, procrastinating, negative thinking or being disorganized. Too often, as you proceed toward your desired outcome, you bump into internal resistance or external obstacles.

Habits consist of behaviors, thoughts and emotions that are a part of your daily existence. Some habitual patterns limit and harm; others support and enhance. Billions of dollars are spent each year by people who want to improve their image, health and fitness. People are hiring coaches, organizers and trainers to improve the quality of their lives. Self-help books and magazines abound, offering insights into problems and ways to overcome them. People appear to be motivated toward change and personal growth. Are you?

Here are five strategies to change a negative habit:

1. Be aware – Identify a pattern of thinking, speaking, feeling or doing that interferes with your health, success and well-being. A bad habit could be blaming yourself or others; worrying about your future, criticizing your spouse or smoking. Identify what you want to accomplish; for example, think and speak in positive ways about yourself.

2. Stay motivated – Use imagery to promote change: Associate a pleasant, desirable outcome to the positive change you want; and associate an unpleasant, negative consequence to the habit you want to eliminate. Picture yourself feeling energized and radiant when you drink enough water; picture yourself feeling tired and looking withered when you do not.

3. Commit – Develop a plan that has simple, easy steps to achieve your goal. Be sure your goal is specific, time oriented and realistic. Include a reward system if you need one. If you have not exercised for years, begin walking 10 minutes a day. If you are industrious, hire a personal trainer or join a fitness center. If your plan is doable, you will do it.

4. Give up excuses – Do not give into the old ways you sabotage yourself or the distractions life puts in your path. Challenge internal excuses like, I am too old or too busy. Once you schedule time to exercise, only allow an emergency to stop you. If you find the right time and way to move your body, your excuses to exercise will fall away.

5. Persist – Stay focused and keep going until you remove all obstacles to changing a limiting habit. When you miss your mark, start again or try new strategies. Avoid criticizing yourself; instead, stay focused on the benefits of the new habit. It might take months or years, but you will get there. Persistence pays off.

When you are committed to improving yourself and your life, you will find ways to make the changes that lead to successful outcomes. Bad habits can be replaced with positive ones if you are willing to do the work. Become an agent of change; the rewards are endless.

Author's Bio: 

Sandra Miniere, M.Ed. is a Personal & Professional Coach. She had a private practice as a mental health counselor for 20 years, was the executive director of a non-profit, and has been a coach for 7 years. Sandra inspires people to design lives that promote authenticity, excellence, and wellbeing. She can be reached at Sandy@co-creativecoach.com or 813-994-2297. Her website is www.co-creativecoach.com.