Bad Habits Can Be Broken and Here are 5 Action Steps to Do it
We can all identify bad habits that need to be broken, but I want to give you some steps to help you get started taking action.
Whether it’s getting ready for new year resolutions or setting goals any time of the year, habit formation should be a part of that goal setting. I discussed more on that subject here: Habits Are Key to Goal Success.
As we are trying to achieve new goals in our lives, we need to form new habits. However, there are also habits we need to eliminate. (Hello, mindless Instagram scrolling!)
Do you know why we have bad habits to begin with? Stress and Boredom.
- I am a cuticle biter. Not nails, but cuticles. I am better than I once was and having a manicure helps, but that habit is stress induced.
- Another bad habit I have is mindless scrolling on my phone in bed. This began from boredom.
Going back to James Clear’s Atomic Habits, there are several ways to combat our bad habits, but we first need to identify what they are.
If we really want to make a difference in our bad habits, it is in our best interest to track them to know when and how often they occur, where they happen, who we are with, and what triggers them.
Don’t skip this step in the process. Use your planner and make tick marks, carry a small notebook and pen and track, or use your phone’s Notes app. Do this for several days to find the trends.
The key is knowing more about our bad habits so we can take action to eliminate them.
Here are 5 actionable ways to remove bad habits adapted from James Clear:
- Replace your bad habit with a good habit. Once you track that bad habit and find what triggers it, you can use that same trigger to start a different, good habit instead.
- Speaking of triggers, the trigger may be the root of the problem. I found this to be the case with food when I was changing my eating style. I stopped buying the processed food that wasn’t good for me and caused a trigger to eat when I saw it in the kitchen.
- Accountability is another key. We all know there are strength in numbers and although we may not like letting ourselves down, it is much easier to get over that in private than it is in a group of trusted people who are holding you accountable. Find your accountability partner, or group to help on the journey.
- Speaking of trusted people, you may need to surround yourself with different people altogether. This may sound harsh, but if you are around people who “feed” your bad choices, and in fact encourage it, you may want to limit the time you are spending with them. Find people who are encouraging the healthier habits you are trying to instill and who won’t tear you down.
- Plan to fail. Yep, I said it. You will like fail more than once when trying to break bad habits. However, that does not mean YOU are a failure. We are human and we slip up. The real test is whether we use that as an excuse to go back to old ways or if we use it to motivate ourselves to let it go and move forward.
Also, let’s be clear, if you are suffering from an addiction like drugs or alcohol, you need to seek professional help for those. I would never make presume that simple steps like these will help a serious addiction.
If you haven’t already figured it out, I am a huge fan of the book by James Clear, Atomic Habits. If you are serious about achieving goals and setting new healthy habits while breaking old bad habits, you really need to add this to your reading list.
Obviously, there is a lot of work within those five action steps, but we are worth the work my friend. It is really tough, but so are we!
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