Bad habits interrupt your life, prevent you from achieving your goals, and may even endanger your health. They are also a waste of time and energy. Then why do we do them?
If you want to know what bad habits you may be committing and that affect your productivity, click here, and I will take you to the mega post I once wrote. To break a bad habit, the first thing to do is take responsibility. We all have bad habits that we wish we didn’t have, but we feel pessimistic about the change in getting rid of it.
Breaking Bad habits takes time and effort, but mostly perseverance. For this, I will propose a series of steps to help you with this arduous task.
What causes a bad habit?
The vast majority of bad habits are caused by two things: stress and boredom. Bad habits emerge as a way to deal with these two states. But it should not be, as there are healthier ways to fight them. The problem is that usually associated with boredom and stress there are even more serious problems. Problems you may not have been able to recognize, but there they are.
What are the reasons for this bad habit? Is there anything deeper, like fear or some limiting belief, that makes you cling to it? One of the keys to overcoming and breaking a bad habit is to recognize what causes it.
And, although it’s something I’ll talk to you about later in this post, accept that bad habits are not usually eliminated, but rather replaced. All the habits you currently have, good or bad, are there for a reason. All these behaviors bring you a benefit, even if you haven’t noticed.
The benefit may be biological or emotional (see smoking or being with a toxic person), but in the end, they are just a way to deal with stress. For this benefit, it is very difficult to root them out. Instead, it becomes necessary to replace one bad habit with another that provides a similar benefit.
Seven steps to break a bad habit
- Want to end it
The reality is that there are many people who feel very comfortable with their bad habits and want them to stay with them. So the first thing you have to do first of all makes a deep reflection and ask yourself if you really want to give it up. Once you’re clear, let’s take the next step.
- Know why you want to quit your bad habit
The best thing here is to make a list, no matter how long it may be, where you list one by one the reasons why you want to break your bad habit. Search your mind for answers. Make connections about how good you’re missing out on this habit.
If you want to learn a language, imagine reading a letter from a restaurant in that country you want to visit when you are free. If you want to lose weight, imagine how well those pants you have in your favorite store are going to sit.
- Identify the Times that occur
Take a notebook and write down every time you fall into that habit. It also points to the day, the time, and the situation in which you “sinned.” And above all, pay attention to the trigger of your misconduct.
You may smoke when you finish eating or when you’re doing a task that doesn’t motivate you, get tangled up on the internet or with your mobile phone.
- Recognize the causes
All habits have a function. You shower to be clean and smell good, you eat breakfast every day because that way you satiate your hunger, etc. and there is no difference with bad habits, which also have theirs why. If you want to break a bad habit, you have to perfectly identify the role they play and face it.
Once you have done the above step, discovering the causes of your bad habit will be much easier for you. An example can be those people who need to have drinks to socialize better with others, or what they eat anxiously when they are stressed.
- Write it
It seems that the promises made on paper increase our commitment to them. There are even scientists who comment that having goals written down and having them handy when we need them helps keep us on track.
So write down your promise of change and read it when you need it most. It doesn’t cost you anything, it doesn’t have any negative effects, and it can be very helpful.
- Taking action
This is usually the most complicated, but here you can choose two alternatives. The first one is to go for it all. In this case, you must:
- Let get into the situation that triggers that bad habit. If your trigger is boredom, try to keep your mind and hands busy.
- Turn off your electronic devices if you see them distracting you during your working day.
- If the one who activates your behavior is a person, talk to her. That person may change his attitude.
If you usually smoke when you’re with your friend because he does, tell him you’re trying to quit. I probably won’t do it again in front of you. The other alternative is to surrender, feel like a failure, and be worse than before. For this, I advise you to start with small steps towards your goal.
- Find Alternatives
This step is just trying to replace your bad habit with a healthier one. Try to be creative with replacements because you never know what can work until you try. Choose a substitute and have a plan in advance to know how you will respond when faced with what causes that bad habit.
If you need a smoke, have a candy. If you feel like joining Facebook when you’re working, write a note with the reward you’ll get if you don’t. When you feel like eating good candy after breakfast, replace it with a piece of fruit. Find the best alternatives that meet the same reward that gives you that bad habit. Then there is the option that many comments on putting a rubber band on your wrist and pulling it when you’re thinking of making the habit you want to break. Associating that evil deed with malaise can be a good idea.
I would not put it into practice until I had tried to overcome it by other less painful methods. But I will leave it for a few last.