Breaking Bad Habits

Last month I wrote about doing versus stagnating and a topic within that category that I got a lot of questions and comments on was How to Break Bad Habits.

Like the thumbnail image (that may or may not have inspired you to click on this blog post - I know that pup is SO cute) I have bad habits… letting my dog, and my fav snacks in bed isn’t the only one!

Let’s start here:

To Change Your Life, Change Your Habits.

Okay, great. I know, I know, I need too, but how?

“ A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs one step at a time.” Mark Twain

Wow, great, so it is going to be hard? And a lot of work? Awesome (insert wink here).

Bad habits are easier to abandon today than tomorrow. Proverb

Ok, so I better get my behind in gear. Help?

First, let me say this. I have worked through some pretty gnarly habits. And I have read, heard about, and even personally watched others combat habits that were strong, determined and deep. So, repeat after me: IF THEY CAN DO IT, SO CAN I!

Habits shape our everyday activities, and how we feel about ourselves. They can make or break you. Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution? It is similar to breaking a habit. You have a goal in mind, you prepare the needed tools to help. and then you make efforts. So, why do most attempts at breaking a habit fail? And why do most New Year’s resolutions?

Two things: Willpower and Strength.

As willpower and strength to stay away from temptations decrease, motivation generally decreases. Leaving you vulnerable to sinking back into past habits or forgetting about goals.

For example, someone who wants to begin eating healthier. The first day you are excited, the second day determined… what happens on day three or four if someone offers you a donut? Can you have JUST one? Will ONE hurt when you’ve been doing SO good? All it takes is that one veer. Then you open yourself up to maybe a snack later, or a dessert after dinner. You justify saying as long as I am eating more vegetables or fruits at other times, these indiscretions are ok.

BUT — and hear me— because this isn’t fun but its the truth and as Lizzo says… THE TRUTH HURTS.

Achieving goals and forming new habits don’t work this way.

Giving in is too easy when you are comfortable, or can make yourself comfortable. When you decide your goal is unreachable, or that where you are is “good enough” you are in essence giving up. Finding satisfaction with your progress is great, and a good motivator, finding you are satisfied with where you are at before reaching your goal is not.

Most likely, you are not quitting because your goal was too lofty, or unattainable, but merely because you have not set the right steps to get to that goal. Breaking bad habits takes LONGER than creating a new one, but in the process of a new habit you are breaking the bad. So, try setting a goal, following the steps below to break bad habits while forming positive new ones. And then feel reeeeeeeeal good about yourself mmmkay?

  1. Take Small Steps/Actions to Setting Patterns

    A new pattern won’t form right away. It takes time for patterns or actions to become a habit. Set small goals, track our progress and utilize that progress to increase your motivation to bite off larger goals.

  2. Stay Away From Temptations that Help Feed Your Addiction or Bad Habits

    This is actually easier than you think. You are only hurting yourself, and your ability to create new habits/break old ones when you place yourself in the same old spots where triggers are. Avoid people, and places, or things that influence you to do things you are trying to avoid. Out of sight, out of mind.

  3. Replace Your Old Habits with Like Minded New Ones

    If you leave yourself only the option to continue with your old habit, or stay level you may slide backwards. Give yourself a new replacement. You will have a better chance at picking to act upon the new habit and forming a positive since it pushes you to an elevated level. Make the new habit rewarding, enjoyable and you won’t be tempted to go back to your old routines.

  4. Feel Pride

    Feeling healthy pride in your desires and actions to improve yourself is a big help in breaking bad habits. Love yourself. Forgive yourself. And then love yourself again. Want better for yourself. If you are tempted ask yourself “Will this better me? Is this what I want in the long run?”. Take enough pride in creating the life of your dreams that you feel a responsibility to stop yourself from doing damage to your present and future. Remember that you are solely responsible for your actions and the consequences that come from them. Remind yourself what has come to your from you past choices, do you want to relieve that over again? Take control of your body, mind, future and start somewhere. Start today. And continue.