We know that everyone has habits. Some habits are considered “good” because they make a positive impact on your life. Other habits are considered “bad,” as the behavior doesn’t improve your life or get you closer to your goals. In many cases, bad habits can pose a negative effect on your life. Bad habits can hold us back from achieving what we really want.
Changing your bad habits in an effort to enrich your life isn’t necessarily easy. As the old saying goes, “old habits die hard.” Although breaking a bad habit may be tough, it’s not impossible. The first action to take in order to break a bad habit is habit recognition. You must realize the behaviors you repeat daily and decide whether they are helpful to you or if they create a barrier to your goals.
Auditing your habits can be made easier by logging your behaviors for a week and then reflecting on which habits you want to change. Once you’ve identified a behavior that you would like to change, there are some strategies you can use to break your bad habit.
Let’s imagine that after logging your habits, you come to the conclusion that you feel that you drink too much coffee in the morning. You’ve decided you want to change that behavior. One strategy that may help you change your habit is to come up with a substitute for it.
Many times, part of what drives our habits is physical. Like the physical feeling of holding a warm mug and drinking something soothing and hot in the morning. Try to mimic that physical sensation, but with something else. If you substitute your daily coffee with hot tea, for example, you can keep the physical feeling, while becoming healthier and achieving your goal of less coffee consumption.
Another strategy that can help you kick a bad habit is to get rid of as many triggers as possible. After identifying what your bad habit is, think about how you feel before that behavior- that’s the trigger. If the bad habit is biting your nails, for instance, you may feel stress or anxiety before you start the behavior.
Stress would be the trigger. Find other ways to manage your feelings and behaviors when a specific trigger comes up. Start small. Do not try to make a list of ten behaviors you want to change and try to change them all at once. That will set you up for failure. Instead, start by trying to slowly break one bad habit. Breaking your habit slowly will ensure a higher success rate.
So, if you want to become more active, start with 15 minutes of activity, not by trying to run a 5k. Remember to forgive yourself and move forward if you revert to your bad habit. It’s never too late to try again