Do you have bad habits that have lurked around for years that you’re sick and tired of already? Binge watching shows, smoking, drinking too much, overspending? We’ve all tried and failed to overcome at least a few bad habits, but forget about the past. Today is a new day and it’s time to get rid of bad habits once and for all. This time you’re not going to give up too soon now are you? Utilize a methodical and smarter approach like the steps described below for better results this time. Why not make it the last time you have to deal with those bad habits of yours so you can move on with your life already!
Reasons Why We Fail To Break Bad Habits
Okay, so first of all why do we repeatedly tend to fail at breaking bad habits? If you really want to achieve success this time, you have to understand how not to fail. Here are the most common reasons why people fail to break bad habits.
- Lack of awareness – If we are unaware of our surroundings and how our actions affect others, we can be too out of touch to even realize what our bad habits are.
- Denial – In the case of denial, people may have already pointed out what our weaknesses are, but we are too stubborn to recognize that these weaknesses need to go.
- Laziness & lack of motivation – Laziness is like quicksand. If we let ourselves get too idle and lethargic, we are doomed to fail our attempts to break our bad habits. Without motivation you’re never going to make any progress.
- Procrastination – Similar to laziness, if we constantly put things off, we have very no hope of improving and bringing change.
- Fear – Change can be intimidating and if you’re too scared of hard work you won’t even try. Many people are also so terrified of failure that they never take any action.
- Lack of will power – Giving in to bad habits is so easy. You have to want to be better. When there’s a will there’s a way.
- Giving up too soon – We often give up on ourselves too soon. Breaking bad habits takes time and patience.
- Bad Time Management – We can get so busy that we forget to prioritize and develop really bad time management skills that lead to a lot of bad habits.
- Budget Constraints – Sometimes we make poor decisions because we’re financially constrained. Instant ramen is a lot cheaper than grass fed beef and organic greens.
Start giving a damn already
If you want something bad enough, you will do whatever it takes to get it done. Remind yourself of this when you are having moments of weakness. After all, procrastinating or trying to ignore your bad habits not only hurts yourself, it also hurts a lot of other people. When we’re unwilling to change, we suffer ourselves along with loved ones, friends, and colleagues. Start increasing your awareness of your own actions and observing how those around you react to them.
Then ask yourself several questions:
- Why are my habits bad?
- What are the downstream side effects?
- How, when, and why did I adopt these bad habits?
- What has prevented me from breaking them?
- How often do my bad habits occur?
- What do others think of my bad habits?
- How will breaking my bad habits improve the quality of my life?
Smash obstacles with rock solid solutions
We’ve all heard of swear jars and writing confessions on the chalk board when we do something wrong. Utilizing intentional obstacles like those help us break bad habits because they act as a form of punishment or embarrassment, which we want to avoid. Getting a friend or family member involved with the obstacles you intentionally create will help keep you honest and motivate you to overcome bad habits.
Additionally, replacements are actions or items that we can use in place of our bad habit. There are lots of ways to utilize replacements to break bad habits. Experiment to find some that work best for you. I like to eat fruit when I’m craving sugar instead of eating cookies or a carton of ice cream. You may find relief by leaving your credit cards at home and only carrying small amounts of cash when you leave the house so you won’t overspend at the store.
Put solid solutions in place asap to help you smash all the various obstacles that get in the way. It’s time to start acting and stop making excuses.
Forget about what you can’t do and start acting on what you can
I struggle with time management, overthinking, and inefficiencies. I think my motivation level to change and my desire to break my bad habits are high, but I have trouble with execution sometimes. It’s easy to get frustrated when all you do is think about the things you can’t do. But focusing on what you can can really help you get going. I’ve learned the hard way that the way we think about how to achieve our goals of breaking bad habits has a big impact on whether we’re successful or not.
The key is don’t let your mind break down before you give yourself a fair chance. Focus on the things that you can do, not what you can’t do. Giving up is the easy way out if we overthink what we can’t do. Think about all the benefits you’ll have if you achieve your goals and kick your bad habits. Genuinely believe that you have the power to change.
Freshen up your environment
Stuck in a rut? Change your surroundings. Rearrange your furniture, clean out your fridge of junk food, get out of the house and hang out with people who share your same values. The more positive influences you surround yourself with, the better your chances at breaking your bad habits.
For example, I had a bad habit of trying to study in my dorm room in college. I’d end up turning on the TV, talking to my roommate, listening to music, or chatting on IM instead of reading my textbooks. Eventually I realized I needed to stop doing that and started studying at the library instead. Being in a new environment surrounded by other people studying, and also being away from the TV, really helped me focus and make better use of my time.
Strive for bad ass rewards
I suggest giving yourself roughly 1-2 months to break a bad habit. Of course some will take longer or less to overcome, but the key is to be realistic with your plan of action. Studies show it takes about 2 months on average for an action to become a habit, so you’ll need to give yourself enough time for your new positive actions to become second nature.
Don’t spread yourself too thin either. We all have more bad habits than can fit on one hand, and pacing yourself is important. I also recommend you come up with a solid reward system for your hard efforts too. Just be sure to reward yourself with things that won’t lead to new bad habit like eating a lot of sugar or watching too much TV.
Knock out bad habits for good
At the end of the day, nobody’s perfect. So try not to beat yourself up over your weaknesses and bad habits. Keep trying to bring positive change into your life, stop making excuses, try new tactics and sooner or later you will reach your goals. This is the year you can kick your bad habits goodbye!
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Untemplaters, what are some of your bad habits? What methods have worked for you in the past to overcome bad habits? Are you currently working on overcoming any this year? What are some of the most annoying bad habits people you know haven’t been able to break?
When we are in our normal routines (weekdays I suppose) I believe it’s easier. On the weekends and holidays (e.g., Mother’s day) that just passed is when we get trapped real fast. For example, my wife wanted to go to Cold Stone, which is an Ice Cream place on Sunday. I couldn’t say no especially on mother’s day. And I couldn’t sit there either while she and my son enjoy ice cream, so in this case, I joined em. My plan to offset that is to have little to no sweets the ENTIRE week.
Dave @ Run The Money says
Great post, Sydney. I think I’m guilty of all the reasons you cite there. But, “giving up too soon” probably worst of all followed by a close second with “procrastination.” I get stuck in the start, stop, hate myself, and re-start cycle constantly.