Re-Inventing Yourself After Divorce: 5 Tips To Dump A Bad Habit For A Good Habit In 20 Days!

10/31/2014 06:51 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

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I'll admit it: After my divorce, I checked my former spouse's Facebook page every morning.

It was downright self-destructive to my recovery. The self-pity party it wrought for the entire day didn't help. Why did I do it? Because prior to the divorce, my then-husband and I wrote messages to each other on Facebook every morning.

It was a habit that needed to stop. Now.

We all have annoying old habits that hold us back. Some need to stop because we're starting over after colossal change, like divorce. Some should end simply because they've outlived their usefulness.

What are your bad habits?

Spending too much time on Match.com?
Staying up too late, which means being exhausted tomorrow?
Checking email every 15 minutes?
Drinking too much coffee?
Procrastinating on sorting those files?
Saying "yes" to everything?

Here's the deal: It takes 20 consecutive days to change a habit.

That means that new -- and better -- behavior will emerge 20 days from now if you start today.

Years ago, I worked for Weight Watchers as a lecturer. We knew that if we could get our clients to change the same eating habit every day for 20 days -- Presto! -- a new way of food interaction would emerge.

My challenge to you:
For the next 20 days, change one habit that's holding you back.

What needs behavior modification in your life -- especially if you are re-inventing yourself after a major life change?

Here's mine: I'm writing my next book and I've promised myself that I will have "derriere in the chair and fingers on the keyboard" every day for two hours first thing in the morning for the next 20 days (with one day off per week). No more putting off writing to the end of the day when I'm hungry and tired!

Keep in mind:
Your brain will fight habit makeover. You'll become amazingly creative in finding other things to do instead of the new behavior.
When that happens, stay focused, stand tall and say "Brain, we're doing it this way, today." Twenty days from now, you'll be pleased that you stood your ground.

Five top tips to make a new habit stick in 20 days:

Make a chart of the next 20 days. Post it. Put a big X through the day you did your new "thing." Do not mark the days you missed.

If you miss a day, it's OK. Chalk it off to being human. Be gentle with yourself. But get right back on track the next day!

Change one habit at a time.There's a reason for the phrase, "Don't bite off more than you can chew." So choose one habit and focus on that.

Don't be over-zealous. If your demands on yourself are too high, you may stop completely. Instead, cut back on intensity and time, but don't stop the new behavior!
Put post-it notes all over your house to remind you. When I was invited to the symphony gala recently, I had a killer dress to wear. Sadly, not even Spanx could smooth over the obvious lumps and bumps.

So for 20 days, I changed my diet. I posted post-its everywhere. Written on them was just one word: "SYMPHONY." You know what? That worked. When the big night arrived, I was able to wear the dress.

Even better: After those 20 days, I kept the new eating habits long after the event ended.

Encourage yourself. Remember, this habit change is a gift to your new, better, re-invented self. It's not a punishment. Be proud of your effort. Tell yourself my favorite phrase, "Yes I can! Of course I can!"

Let's do this together. Scroll down to the comments below and tell me:

What habit are you going to change for the next 20 days -- and what new behavior will take its place? Watch for flashes of brilliance as we trade ideas.

You can do anything for 20 days. Start today!

Contact me personally if you need help concerning your own personal challenges.

To start your day feeling good about your new habit, and the New You, get my morning inspirations to get you energized for the day ahead. Go here for my 30-day audio download of inspirational (and often funny) messages to kick start your day for 30 days.

Kat goes international! Her book, Exhale Midlife Body Blues, was featured in the Irish Examiner.

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