How do we break our bad habits?
There are multiple ways that are suggested for breaking bad habits, so I’ll offer five ways that I’ve found helpful and that have worked for me.
#1 - Choose a Replacement Habit
Plan ahead so that when you feel that urge to practice that bad habit, you know which action you are going to replace it with. It doesn’t have to be anything big. You can start small such as breathing exercises, going for a walk, whatever it is you need to do to replace your bad habit, start there.
#2 - Eliminate as Many Triggers as You Can
Eliminate temptation and triggers. If you’re constantly reaching for the cookies and bag of potato chips, don’t put them on your grocery list. You want to eliminate triggers so that you’re more likely to succeed.
#3 - Find a Habit Accountability Partner
Partner up with someone who is also trying to quit bad habits and work with each other to keep one another accountable. It is inspiring and motivating when you know someone believes in you and knows you can accomplish your goal. You’re also helping another person so you, too, want to create that example and be accountable.
There’s an African proverb that I love that reads: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This is not a sprint, it’s a lifestyle change, so it’s a marathon. Finding that accountability partner can be critical to and helpful for your success.
#4 - Surround Yourself with People Living the Way You Want to Live
Surround yourself with people who support your desired way of living.
For example, if you’d like to quit smoking, it might be very challenging to quit that habit if everyone in your network smokes. I’m not saying the answer is to ditch your friends! But there is something powerful to be said about finding new friends or new circles of people that understand where you are and who can encourage you. And then, at some point, you could be a good resource for your smoker friends who are possibly looking to quit as well.
#5 - Plan for Setbacks
We all slip up every now and then and it’s okay!
Steve Kemp says it the best. Kemp says:
“When you screw up, you skip an exercise, you eat bad meals, you sleep in—it doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you human, so welcome to the club.”
Things happen. When you slip up, don’t dwell on it and don’t beat yourself up over it. Plan for it, acknowledge it, and then get right back on course quickly.
The key about the slip-up is not to do it twice in a row because then you start conditioning yourself to slip back into your bad habit.