How to Break a Bad Habit
Habits, we all have them, some are good and some not so good for us. Some of the better habits that serve you well include the habits of brushing your teeth, exercising, eating healthy, and not smoking, which allow you to live a happier, healthier, and more productive lives. However, there are negative habits that hold you back from experiencing the successful life you want and deserve.
And it is these ones that can need your attention. Examples of these negative habits include smoking, gambling, overspending, excessive eating, as well as negative thought patterns and beliefs.
But there is hope! You can rid yourself of the habits that hold you back. It will take discipline and consistent action, aligned with a reason WHY. In fact, the stronger your reasons for changing negative habits, the greater the chance of you successfully doing so.
Following are a few useful tips to help you do so.
- Determine why you should stop. Think about how your habit hurts you and others. Does it harm your health? Diminish your appearance? Put a dent in your pocketbook? Does it make you act irrationally? Does it hurt your loved ones? (It’s important that you realise the effects your negative habits are having on the people you love, as this provides you with a compelling reason for changing them.)
It’s important to have a strong reason WHY you must change because if you lack a compelling reason to stop, chances are you’ll be less willing to work towards quitting. Find a reason to halt the progression of your habit and hammer that thought into your mind each time you feel compelled to continue with it.
It’s also useful to create a list of benefits that you’ll experience when you put an end to this habit once and for all. Be specific when you do this, particularly noting how it will benefit you and your loved ones. This leads beautifully on to our next point…
- Dangle a carrot. Naturally, when there is a direct reward at the end of your pursuit, you’re more inclined to give a wholehearted effort. Indulge in a trip to the spa, a new pair of jeans or a trip to your favorite restaurant each time you reach a large milestone. Or perhaps you become a positive example for your child by losing the weight or stop smoking.
- Read success stories. Read success stories of people you admire who have been in your shoes and conquered the same habit. Seeing social proof that others have been able to achieve the task you’re facing makes the pursuit seem more manageable. If others have done it, then you can too.
- Small steps. Focus on only one small step each week to ensure long lasting results. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, eliminate sweets from your diet for the first week. The next week eliminate other carbohydrates, like white bread, in addition to the sweets, and begin walking for half an hour each day.
Slow and steady really does win the race. Crash diets don’t work and quitting anything cold often leads to compensatory behaviour. In turn, this will halt your progress and you’ll have to start at step one all over again.
- Create measurable goals. For example, if you’re trying to minimize your spending, determine the average amount you spend each week in unnecessary purchases. Then set a goal to reduce that amount by 10% for the first week, and another 10% the following week.
Or if you’re trying to lose weight, aim to lose half to one kilogram each week as this is not only feasible, but becomes sustainable over the longer term, and most importantly, will help you keep the weight off.
Setting small goals really helps motivate and inspire you to achieve your goals. You start to believe in yourself, particularly more so as you achieve each small goal. The in turn inspires you to keep going.
Habits, good and bad, provide a level of comfort that everything in your world is okay. They give you a feeling of control over your circumstances. However, a dependency on a routine that has negative consequences to your physical and mental health can be replaced by choices that fuel your success.
Remember that you are the boss of your mind, body, and circumstances. Embark on the road to kicking your bad habit today and prove to yourself just how strong you can be!