Breaking a bad habit is just as difficult as creating a good one. It takes at least 21 days to form a new habit and may take even longer to break a bad one. When you learn how to break bad habits, you can begin creating positive changes and taking steps towards a happier lifestyle.
How to Break Bad Habits
As you might guess, breaking a bad habit is going to be as difficult as creating a good one.
Here are some tips to help you along the way:
- Become aware of when you are doing the bad habit. Figure out when and why you are biting your nails or cracking your knuckles. Increase your awareness of what you’re doing.
- Write down when and why you are doing it and how it makes you feel. This helps you establish a baseline and then you can analyze and recognize why you are doing it. Create a list of the pros and cons of the behavior.
- Switch it out. Once you know why and when you’re committing the habit, find a temporary or permanent replacement habit for it. So if you’re trying to stop biting your nails chew gum instead. You can also try meditation to break a bad habit.
- Choose the approach that works for you. Some people can quit a behavior all at once while others need to quit gradually.
- Avoid the people, places, and situations that trigger the bad habit as much as you can.
- Replace the bad behavior with a positive behavior until it becomes a habit.
- Give yourself a reward whenever you engage in a good habit over an old, bad habit.
- Have others hold you accountable. Consider asking your colleagues, family, or friends to help you break a bad habit.
Undoubtedly, recognizing and changing a habit requires persistence, consistency, and time. Once you’ve recognized what you want to change and why you are one step closer to changing it.
Tips for Changing Your Habits
Let’s face it. Any kind of behavior change requires motivation. Sometimes you get off track and need to find a way to get back on track. Here are some tips to help you stay motivated and get back on track.
- Keep at it. If you get off track, get back at it as soon as you realize you are slipping.
- Give yourself a reward for each small step you make towards changing a habit.
- Commit to it for 30 days. If that seems too hard, commit to a week at a time.
- Get a buddy to join you and keep you accountable. They can motivate you and keep you on track.
- Mark it on your calendar. This works well for habits like exercising.
- Create a ritual. For example, if you want to floss your teeth every day, put the floss next to your toothbrush.
- Start small and focus on one habit at a time.
- Be specific on what you want to change.
- Create an action plan for what you need to do to change a habit. Re-read this plan when you don’t feel motivated or you get off track.
- Make a list of what you want to accomplish each day towards your habit change.
- Keep a journal of your thoughts and progress. This lets you see how well you are doing.
- If you get off track, look for a different way to approach your habit change. For example, you’re trying to become better organized. You’ve been trying to keep your office tidy every day but can’t keep up. Instead try doing your desk one day, the files another and so on.
- Not feeling motivated? Listen to an inspirational song or speaker that inspires you.
- Stay motivated by revisiting your motivational collage or vision map. It includes pictures of your goal and the reason you want to get there.
The bottom line is you will have days when you don’t feel motivated to change your habit. You may hit a snag or get side tracked and go back to the old way. That’s okay. Just recognize what’s happened and why and then get back at your goal of creating a positive change.