Bad habits have a profound effect on your life. But habits can be challenging to change since they aren’t based on thoughtful choice, so it’s difficult to use logic to change your behavior. They require a multi-facet approach.
If you can’t shake your bad habits, try these tips to get you on the road to freedom:
1. Give it a month. In 30 days you can eliminate a bad habit and create a new, positive habit. Do your very best for a month. If you backslide after a month, it’s likely that your strategy is lacking.
2. Replace your bad habit. It’s almost impossible to just drop it and not replace what you’ve lost. So think about what your bad habit gives you and find a replacement that provides the same benefit. Replace the benefit or it will be a constant battle.
3. Deal with one challenge at a time. For example, avoid trying to overhaul your diet, exercise, spending, and smoking habits all at once. Pick one; give it a month. Then add another one once you’re used to not having the first bad habit.
- You don’t have to be in a hurry. Consider what it would mean if you could just get rid of your 4 worst habits. That’s only 4 months away. Comparatively, that’s quick, considering that you’ve probably had them for a long time.
4. Be a scientist. Leave the big emotional struggle for someone else and approach the process like a scientist. Have an attitude of wondering if you can replace the habit. Hypothesize on how it might turn out. Be curious and have a perspective of doing an experiment. There’s less drama and bias that way.
5. Remove your triggers. For example, get the junk food out of the house. If you smoke, stay away from the places you always smoke. Avoid the places that tempt you to spend a lot of money. Habits don’t have a lot of thought behind them – they’re almost like reflexes. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way.
6. Avoid being too hard on yourself. It might take a couple of tries to get the new habit to stick. Just improve your approach and keep on going.
7. Remind yourself. It’s easy to forget to perform your new habit. If you’re going to start exercising every day, set up some reminders. If you’re going to floss, leave the floss out where you can see it.
8. Tell your friends. Your friends can help you reach your goal. They’ll say something if they see you eating a hot fudge sundae or smoking on your lunch breaks. Get all the help you can.
9. Be consistent. If you’re going to start exercising regularly, try to do it each day at the same time. This is much easier than trying to exercise 3 times a week. Try to do your replacement habit daily.
10. Remember the pain. Each day, ask yourself what it will mean if you don’t stop indulging in your bad habit. Visualize the likely outcome.
11. Focus on the pleasure. Every day, ask yourself what it will mean if you eliminate or replace your bad habit. Visualize the likely outcome of this scenario.
Bad habits really put the brakes on your progress. Use the tips above and give yourself a great opportunity to eliminate your bad habits and replace them with useful habits. There’s no better feeling than knowing you have control over your life.