26 Jan Break your bad habits for good
Most people have at least a few bad habits, whether it be procrastination, not getting enough exercise, failing to make the most of time at the office, or any number of other tendencies that don’t help us get closer to our goals. Many people realize that they have a habit that is keeping them from being the best that they can be, but often they feel that it’s too difficult to overcome it. However, it really doesn’t have to be that difficult to change. With determination and discipline, and by actually making the firm decision to change, you can break a bad habit and replace it with something better.
First, ask yourself these three questions:
a) What do you gain from this habit?
What is your motivation behind doing what you are doing in the first place? For example, your bad habit may give you enjoyment and relaxation, or it may act as a way to escape reality. Make sure to be honest with yourself, and frankly identify your reasons.
b) What is it costing you?
Think about any ways that this habit might be costing you. For instance, with procrastination, there is not only the financial cost of incomplete work but the cost of unnecessary stress as well. Is this cost worth the benefits that you thought of in the previous question?
c) What is the alternative cost?
If you didn’t have this habit, would you have more time, money, or energy to spend on doing something else? What would you be doing instead? Are there better ways to gain the benefits that you identified in question number 1?
Create a new habit
When you’ve asked yourself these three questions, and you have a better understanding of why you have your habit, what you are gaining, and what the habit is costing you, then you are ready to begin a new cycle of actions. Here’s some suggestions for how can do it:
1. In order to break a habit, you must replace it with a new, better one
It’s important to focus on what you will do instead of your old habit. It’s not enough to concentrate on purging negative practices – it’s also essential to focus on positive actions that you can do.
2. Focus on the benefits – make a list
Make a list of what you stand to gain by changing your habit and concentrate on it. This is extremely important for your motivation and is a good way to keep yourself on track, since whenever you feel yourself slipping you can take another look at the list and reaffirm your drive.
3. Take action right away – start immediately
Don’t put off change until next week, next month, or next year. Take action to change a habit right away.
4. No excuses – have a plan to deal with objections
Because breaking bad habits can be challenging, you are likely going to come up with excuses about why you don’t need to do it. Self-discipline is the key for overcoming your own objections. Find some system to deal with potential temptation; for instance, you could write down all of your excuses and answer them with reasons that you need to change anyway. Keep this handy for when you are tempted to start listening to your excuses, and reread your reasons.
5. Plot your progress
It’s much easier to change by setting daily, intermediate goals for yourself than by trying to completely break your habit at once. When you have created a new habit, you can switch to weekly goals. Keep track of how you are progressing and keep yourself motivated by regularly reviewing your advancement.
6. Maintain motivation by continuing to challenge yourself
Keep challenging yourself as you reach your intermediate goals and don’t settle before you’ve gone all the way and overcome your bad habit. Keep moving to the next step when you have accomplished breaking one bad habit and replacing it with a good one.
7. Set up a support system and ask for help
It’s important to have someone to help you stay on track and keep you accountable to your goals. A support system can also keep you motivated and cheer you on when you do well.
8. If you experience a setback accept it and move on right away
Don’t dwell on times when you didn’t do as well as you had hoped and try not to get caught up with blaming yourself for setbacks. Instead, evaluate why you lost focus, understand how you can do better, and get back on track.
9. Acknowledge and reward yourself on a regular basis
Rewarding yourself whenever you make progress, no matter how small, is essential for your motivation. Your reward could be as simple as giving yourself a couple hours of relaxation or a long dinner with a good friend, or as elaborate as a weekend getaway.
10. Focus on the end results and the long term
Think about how you will feel and how your life will be when you have beaten the bad habit. Likely, there will be wonderful long-term consequences of beginning a new cycle of habits.
With time and determination, you can break your old habits, leaving room for new patterns and tendencies. A bad habit can in turn help you to move toward your goals and make the most of your time, energy, and drive.