Habits are a part of being human. While we can try to stick to good habits in our lives, it is rather difficult to escape the bad ones. Try as we might, ridding ourselves of these habits is often more challenging than we care to admit. If you’re ready to kick a bad habit to the curb, read on for five ways to break these habits.
1. Reward Yourself When You Make Progress
Beating a bad habit requires consistency. While you won’t break the habit overnight, taking daily steps towards your goal of overcoming this habit will eventually lead you to breaking it. Each time you are able to avoid your habit, reward yourself. Treat yourself to your favorite food or a spend few minutes spend a few hours indulging in a show you love.
Alternatively, if you find that you aren't overcoming your habit, you can penalize yourself in those moments. Consider using the swear jar” method for the times when you are unable to break the habit. Each time you fall short, place a $1 in the jar.
2. Understand Your Triggers
Each person has their own reason as to why they are tied to a specific habit. The way we make certain decisions results in whether or not we repeat these bad habits. Understanding what triggers you to consistently choose the same behavior will help you see how you can put a stop to these bad habits.
Every bad habit has one of five cues that trigger how we respond to them. These cues include the location, time, emotional state, other people, and an immediately preceding action. Each opportunity we encourage us to engage in in a bad habit, so it’s important to assess which of these triggers led us to participate in this behavior.
3. Go Slowly by Making Small Changes
Breaking bad habits essentially requires one to form new habits. While this is an effective way to overcome these habits, this process is far from simple. In order to form these new habits, you have to break your old habits first. Start by focusing on one habit and taking small steps to change.
For example, if you are hoping to quit smoking, going cold turkey may not be the most effective option for you. Consider turning to vaping as a way to break your cigarette habit. While you don’t have to go off nicotine completely, vaping allows you to significantly reduce your nicotine intake, in addition to vaping being healthier overall.
4. Plan to Change Your Habit for a Month
Oftentimes, when we try to break our habits, we start off passionately, ready to see how we can change our lives. Sooner than later, it gets harder and harder to keep up our new habits, which can ultimately result in us falling back into the way things used to be. In order to properly prepare for habit breaking, it’s important to thoroughly think through why, how, and what it will take to break your old habit.
This planning should include a detailed list of why you want to quit your habit when you are most likely to engage in this habit and other details that will make it more challenging for you to break your habit. The more you know about yourself and how you respond to these habits, the better prepared you will be to break them.
5. Set Reminders to Avoid Bad Habits in the Future
Despite our best intentions, we return to our bad habits when we lose the willpower to fight. Depending on the situation you may find yourself in, you may simply forget why you set the goal of breaking your habit in the first place. Try to get in front of this negative cycle by setting reminders for yourself that you can look at when you are at your weakest.
Your phone’s calendar is a good place to start when using reminders. Trying to quit drinking? Want to start exercising more? Set several reminders each day to keep these goals at the forefront of your mind.
Bad habits are hard to break, but with dedication, consistency, and willpower, you can get past these setbacks and start forming new habits. Use these five strategies to build the life you want to lead.