The saying that jumps out in my memory because it is so true is “Old habits die hard.” Replace “old” with “bad” and you’ve got yourself a narrative! So, what can you do to stop those bad habits and make a positive difference in your life?
1. Recognize the Process of Habit Formation
What makes you want to participate in a poor habit in the first place? Is it the freezer’s carton of mint chocolate chip ice cream that tempts you every time you open the door? Remove the trigger and don’t buy ice cream at the supermarket if it’s that simple. Take a good look at how your bad behavior started and figure out how to break it. Every poor habit, according to the self-improvement blog Pick the Brain, has a trigger that fits into one of five categories:
As you start a poor habit, attempt to keep track of the cues, and when you notice patterns, you’ll be able to find out what’s driving you to do it. Then take steps to either replace the bad habit with a good one or fully eliminate it.
2. Take it slowly and make small adjustments
It’s possible that going “cold turkey” isn’t the best method to break a harmful habit for good. It could start with little steps until you’ve eliminated it from your daily routine. Patience, according to Melanie Pinola, author of Top 10 Ways to Break Bad Habits (lifehacker.com). “So, instead of making drastic changes, be patient with yourself and focus on one habit and the tiniest actions you can take to mislead your inner caveman,” she advises. If you’re suffering from a food or diet problem, skip the ice cream and instead opt for low-fat frozen yogurt.
3. Alter your surroundings
If you go to the grocery shop and always stop at the Starbucks at the front entry to grab a Grande Mocha Frappuccino, try going to a grocery store that doesn’t have a Starbucks. I’m not saying that having a coffee drink is a bad thing in and of itself, but if it’s become a habit that you can’t seem to break, it’s time to make a change. Remember to examine your habit, paying great attention to the five cues listed above to see if the location or any of the other cues is aiding in the behavior’s initiation.
4. Establish a trigger and improvement objectives
This appears to be more complicated than it is. Setting tiny trigger goals can help you maintain a positive attitude. For example, instead of reaching for a bag of salt and vinegar chips when you get home from work, put some fresh fruit or cut up veggies in the fridge with hummus to nibble on. If you have a habit of skipping your morning workout, lay your clothing out the night before so they are right in front of you as a subtle reminder when you wake up. Additionally, set precise improvement targets that will help you stay on track. Set a goal of dropping one or two pounds by a given date if you’re wanting to shed a few pounds, and track whether you met that target. If you succeed, congratulate yourself and set a new goal.
5. Try Again If You Fail
It’s a little easier to form a new, positive habit than it is to break a negative one. If you fail to meet your objective one day, get back on track the next. Don’t give up since you’ll make mistakes (we’re all human), so try not to be too severe on yourself. Resuming where you left off, figure out what went wrong so you can prevent it next time, and make a plan to get back on track.
We begin and quit bad habits with a psychological reward that we believe benefits us. When we see that our habits are damaging us or our relationships with others, we are motivated to change them. It won’t be easy, but with a little positive thinking, prayer, and a game plan in hand, everything is possible!