Do you want to break your bad habits? I do! Even if you’ve tried and failed to break certain bad habits in the past, it’s never too late to try again. It takes time and effort to completely replace our non ideal actions with positive ones, and a lot of times we give up too soon. If we take a methodical and smarter approach, however, we can have better results. Let’s get started with some helpful tips on how to break bad habits.
1. Know The Main Reasons Why We Fail To Break Bad Habits
First let’s take a look at some of the main reasons why we fail to break bad habits. After all, if we don’t have a clue why we have our bad habits, it makes it a whole lot harder to overcome them.
- 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 have typically pointed out what our weaknesses are, but we are too stubborn to recognize that these weaknesses are bad habits that need breaking.
- Laziness & lack of motivation – I admit I can be rather lazy at times, and laziness is like quicksand. If we let ourselves get too lazy, we are doomed to fail our attempts to break our bad habits. Without motivation we aren’t going to make any progress either.
- Procrastination – Similar to laziness, if we constantly put things off, we have very little hope of improving and bringing change.
- Fear – Change can be intimidating, and sometimes we are scared of how hard it could be to break bad habits that we don’t even try. Or we may fear what others will think if we fail.
- Lack of will power – Giving in is so easy. If we use yolo as an excuse one too many times to justify our bad habits, we’re in for trouble.
- Giving up too soon – As I mentioned earlier, we often give up on ourselves too soon. Breaking bad habits takes time and patience.
2. Pay Attention To How You Act And How Others React
Trying to run away or ignore bad habits hurts a lot of people. When we’re unwilling to change, not only do we hurt our loved ones, friends, and colleagues, we also hurt ourselves. Start increasing your awareness of your own actions and observing how those around you react.
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?
3. Decide On Replacements And Intentional Obstacles
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. So find some that work best for you. I like to eat a piece of fruit when I’m craving something sweet instead of eating candy, a box of 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.
4. Focus On What You CAN Do, Not What You Can’t
I struggle a lot 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. It’s easy to get frustrated when all you do is think about the things you can’t do anymore in order to get to your goal. And 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.
Don’t let your mind break down before you give yourself a fair chance. It helps to focus on the things that you can do, not what you can’t do. Giving up and deciding to keep all our bad habits 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 genuinely believe that you have the power to change.
5. Change Your Surroundings
Rearranging your furniture, cleaning out your fridge of junk food, getting out of the house and hanging out with positive influences are a few ways to change your surroundings to help you break bad habits.
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. So I eventually 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, helped me focus and make better use of my time.
6. Be Patient And Reward Yourself
I suggest giving yourself roughly 1-2 months to break a bad habit. Some will take longer or less to eradicate, and 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 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. You’ll want to reward yourself for your hard efforts too. Just be sure to reward yourself with something that isn’t going to end up turn into a new bad habit like eating too many sweets or watching too much TV.
Bad Habits Be Gone!
Two of my longest lasting bad habits are 1) not exercising and 2) not waking up early. I’ve been doing a better job at going to bed earlier, which makes me a lot less groggy in the morning, but I still struggle to wake up early. It would be so nice if my body naturally woke up at 6am feeling rested. Alas so far that only happens if I drink a lot of tea before bed, lol, and I typically go straight back to sleep. I’ve noticed it’s a lot easier to wake up early when I have a sense of urgency though. So because I have flexible work hours, I need to give myself more tasks to do in the morning to motivate myself to hop to it.
As for exercising, I’m trying to walk a lot during my lunch breaks and do stretches and resistance strengthening in between projects during the day or when I get up to take a break. My progress has been slow, but every little bit helps! And I’ve found that approaching exercise in little blocks of time is easier for me to manage versus trying to set aside an extra hour a day. I still have a ways to go, but I’m not giving up yet.
Untemplaters, do you have any advice on how to break bad habits? Are you working on overcoming any of your own bad habits this year? What are some of the most annoying bad habits people you know haven’t been able to break?
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