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Developing self-regulation skills is mostly a process of changing habits and developing new skills. More specifically – we must replace a weak, ineffective, or negative habit with a habit that is adaptive and positive. We all know how challenging it can be to change a habit because we have all attempted to change habits for goals like losing weight, exercising more, organizing our finances, or sticking to a budget. We have all striven to acquire new skills–learn a language, play guitar, earn a belt in martial arts.  Research and life experiences have taught us much about changing our habits.  

  • We can change our habits or develop new skills though it can be very challenging

We may create a structure for our mornings to help us get more organized but soon hear the voice of our old habits persuasively reminding us we are not morning people and insisting we sleep just a little longer. 

Changing habits or developing new skills takes planning

People sometimes believe they simply have to try harder or just decide with due ardour to make a change and it will happen, only to notice later that nothing really changes. If we decide to become better at tennis it takes more than simply trying harder. 

It requires us to study how we make our strokes, swing our arms, and plant our feet.

  • Changing habits and developing skills means finding a strategy that will work for you

Some people have quit smoking by going “cold turkey,” others have used a patch, some have used nicotine gum, and yet others put themselves through a behavioural management plan—what worked for some did not work for others.

  • Changing habits and developing skills requires commitment and persistence

There are always a lot of people attending the workout gyms in January right after the New Year’s resolutions have been made, but there are far fewer people attending in March. 

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  • Changing habits and developing skills requires monitoring

When we see that our efforts are making a difference, we believe that our efforts are paying off and worth the stress of making a change.

Even when we change our habits or develop new skills, we often must work hard to maintain the changes

We have all seen people lose 30 or 40 pounds, and then put all of the weight back on over the course of several months.