There are eight key chemicals that work in combination to explain helpful and unhelpful, constructive and unconstructive, responses to situations at home, at work and at play. When the balance is right, we call it the ‘Winning Cocktail’.


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Take it one step at a time and build new habits

1. Commit to Thirty or Sixty Days – Three to four weeks is usually the time you need to make a habit automatic but other research indicates it is closer to 60 days. If you can make it through the initial conditioning phase, it becomes much easier to sustain. A month is a good block of time to commit to a change since it easily fits in your calendar.

2. Write it Down – A piece of paper with a resolution on it isn’t that important. Writing that resolution is. Writing makes your ideas more clear and focuses you on your end result.

3. Make it Daily/Be Consistent – Consistency is critical if you want to make a habit stick. If you want to start exercising, go to the gym every day for your first thirty days. Going a couple times a week will make it harder to form the habit. Activities you do once every few days are trickier to lock in as habits.  Also, the more consistent your habit the easier it will be to stick. If you want to start exercising, try going at the same time, to the same place for your thirty days. When cues like time of day, place and circumstances are the same in each case it is easier to stick.

4. Start Simple – Don’t try to completely change your life in one day. It is easy to get over-motivated and take on too much. If you wanted to improve your breathing and your posture, choose one of those habits to start.  Once that has been established, move on to the other.


5. Use Triggers and Reminders – By placing a new habit alongside an established habit (something you always do) you create an effective trigger that makes it much easier for you to remember and integrate the new habit in your life. So if you wanted to change your posture, your trigger could be closing your front door in the morning. The sequence goes set posture – walk to the station. Re: reminders, approximately two weeks into your commitment it can be easy to forget. Place reminders to execute your habit each day or you might miss a few days. If you miss time it defeats the purpose of setting a habit to begin with.

6. Find a Buddy – Find someone who will go along with you and keep you motivated if you feel like quitting.


7. Remove Temptation – Restructure your environment so it won’t tempt you in the first thirty days. Remove junk food from your house, cancel your cable subscription, throw out the cigarettes so you won’t need to struggle with willpower later.  Replace Lost Needs – If you are giving up something in your habit, make sure you are adequately replacing any needs you’ve lost. If watching television gave you a way to relax, you could take up meditation or reading as a way to replace that same need. Associate With Role Models – Spend more time with people who model the habits you want to mirror. Research indicates that you become what you spend time around.

8. Forgive Yourself – Don’t expect all your attempts to change habits to be successful immediately. It might take several independent tries before you start exercising regularly. Try your best, but expect a few bumps along the way.

9. Visualise – Visualise yourself performing the bad habit. Next visualise yourself pushing aside the bad habit and performing an alternative. Finally, end that sequence with an image of yourself in a highly positive state. For example, see yourself picking up the cigarette, see yourself putting it down and snapping your fingers, finally visualise yourself running and breathing free. Do it a few times until you automatically go through the pattern before executing the old habit.