Jerry’s wife had told Jerry to pick their son, Tom, from school today. He agreed. Usually, every Friday night Jerry goes to have a drink with his friends. But evening when his friends asked him about joining them for the drink, he changed his mind. He phoned his wife and told her that “he is busy, he can’t pick Tom.” Later, when he realized that how unhappy is his wife about this, he started thinking about stopping bad habits and becoming a better person.
Do you also wish to become a better person by stopping bad habits? Who does not? By the Way, being honest and accepting the negative behaviors is crucial in stopping bad habits.
“Most people don’t have that willingness to break bad habits. They have a lot of excuses, and they talk like victims”
– Carlos Santana
Studies show that about 40% of our day-to-day activities rely on repetitive, routine actions that don’t require much thinking on our part.
A lot of things in our lives depend on our habits. Healthy teeth are the result of daily brushing and proper oral care. How healthy you are right now is because of your eating and exercise routines. In essence, Habits run our lives!
So, I do not need to tell you, how important is it to have good practices in improving yourself. None of us are perfect beings. We all have some bad habits. Stopping bad habits will bring vast improvements to our lives.
Before diving into the tips to help you in stopping bad habits, I would like to remind you that your bad habits have taken years to establish themselves. They are not going to change overnight! Stopping bad habits is a long process that doesn’t happen overnight.
Let’s find out the seven incredible strategies which are helpful in stopping bad habits.
1.Just a bad habit?
John had an argument with his wife over some household chore. He went out of the home. After a couple of hours, he came back fully drunk!
Next morning, John’s wife says: “John, Do you know you were thoroughly drunk yesterday? You were out of control! You are getting addicted to Alcohol”.
John replies that “Addicted? I drink only once in a while. That too when I am upset!”
First, you should identify whether the negative routine, you are planning to break your own is not a deep-seated addiction. You might feel that it’s just an innocent action you do “sometimes.”
Okay! How can we distinguish a habit from an addiction?
In simple terms, if you have control over the behavior. Then it is a habit. With willpower and strategies, stopping bad habits is possible. Whereas, addiction is the repetition of action that a person is unable or unwilling to control or stop even though he knows about its harmful consequences.
If you have an addiction, you probably should seek out professional counseling.
Not sure whether you have a bad habit or addiction?
Check out the Addiction Questionnaire given below:
2. Plan for the change
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” ― Benjamin Franklin Click To Tweet
Julie decided to reduce her weight. She has been on a weight-loss diet. For the past couple of weeks, Julie has been eating only healthy foods. She is already experiencing a new level of energy. Today, her boss yelled at her for being late at work. Suddenly her willpower started to crack! During the lunch break, she ordered an extra-large pizza pie with all the fillings. She moved to a comfort food to make herself feel better.
When you feel stressed or tired, there is a high chance that you go back to the old behavior only to feel better.
Your failures of stopping bad habits in the past could be a result of not having a proper plan and relying merely on your willpower. Understand the behavior you are giving up.
Moreover, you cannot change anything unless you are ready and committed to doing so. The more honest you are with yourself, the more likely you will be able to succeed in changing your habits.
Plan for the resistance you will experience on the way to a new behavior.
Focus on one habit change at a time.
Nancy and her friends were discussing their New Year Resolutions during their monthly get together. Nancy‘s Resolutions were to go to the gym five days a week, stop smoking, getting up early at 6 o’clock. Just a month later, she has given up on all these resolutions.
Instead of focusing on one habit change, many people try to fix their entire lives— all on the first of January. Most of us don’t have the willpower necessary to manage multiple new routines. As a result, one failure often rises into multiple failures when we attempt to juggle several new routines at the same time. We might even get so frustrated with one change that we give up on all other new routines.
Stopping bad habits starts with identifying your bad habits.
Create a log of all your bad habits.
You can take help of your family members and friends in identifying your bad habits.
Next, decide on which one habit you want to eliminate from your life.
Find out “Why ” you should get rid of the habit.
You can ask yourself below questions and write down the answers.
- List down the benefits you get out of breaking each bad habit?
- How often do you do them?
- Ask the people closest to you. Individuals who care about you will give you the honest feedback you need and will be able to provide support.
Choose the one habit change which will bring drastic improvements to your life.
3. Commit to a 30-Day Trial Period
Many people believe it takes 21 days in breaking a bad habit. But some studies suggest that it takes 66 days to create a brand-new routine. I have already discussed 30-day Trial Period as a way to change a habit. So a great way to get started is to commit to a 30-day challenge.
According to the 30-day Trial method, you don’t commit to the habit change until the end of the 30-day trial period. Only then you will decide to stay or quit the new behavior.
4. Fix a Start Date
“One day's delay is another day's lack of progress.” -Stuart Bowen Click To Tweet
Write down the date when you will start the habit change.
Do not delay it for long.No need to wait for a new year day or 1st of next month. Telling your colleagues, family members, and friends about your plans of stopping bad habits will make you more likely to succeed.
Having an official countdown keeps you energized as the new habit is to improve your life.
5. Define Your Outcome
Breaking bad habits is exactly like setting a goal. So set your target goal, coupled with a deadline.
If you want to be a vegetarian, you need to identify what foods to eat, what foods to avoid and the time when this change will happen.
Your outcome would be:
“By April 1st, I will no longer eat meat or fish. Instead, I will eat home-cooked meals with fresh greens and pulses.”
If you are following a 30-day trial period, you create a similar metric for the end of the trial period. Then when the date arrives, you can decide if you want to continue with the habit change or not.
6. Avoid Big Changes
Some people can make large changes at a time. You or your friend might have quit smoking or drinking with sheer willpower alone. But that success ratio is just one out of hundred!
When you focus on a significant change, one mistake will make you feel like a failure.
When you insist on 100 percent perfection, you often develop a “what the hell” mindset when making a mistake.
You might have been on a healthy diet track for many days. But one day you may get tempted and eat a pizza. If you are on a significant change, the chances are that you will have the “what the hell” effect.
“What the hell! I’ve already made a mistake, so I have already failed.”
You might treat that one mistake as a failure and get back to the old behavior of unhealthy eating habits.
Nobody is perfect. Do not focus on perfection. Have some wiggle room for you to slip from time to time.
Instead of making significant overnight changes focus on making small changes that compound over time. Split your habit change into minor modifications.
Getting better 1% a day is the strategy to follow when you improve yourself the Kaizen way.
For instance, to shift to a healthy diet. Start by avoiding fast foods.
As per the 30-day Trial method, your outcome will be
“By April 1st, I will no longer eat my lunch from fast food restaurants. Instead, I would have eaten home-cooked meals or from traditional restaurants for at least 25 days in March.”
Here you are giving yourself a bit of wiggle room on the total number of days. You need to be ready for setbacks in successfully stopping bad habits.
7. Focus on Incremental Improvements
Understand your habit thoroughly. The more information you have, the easier it is to break your bad habit.
Some habits can be tracked daily based on whether you did it or not like below:
Going to the Gym
Eating Fast Food
Some other behaviors can be monitored only by the amount of usage:
Number of Cigarettes you smoke, pushups you take, Calories you consume, drinks you consume daily
Amount of Time you spent in the social media or the amount of Time you spent watching TV
The incremental approach is best suited to the habits where you can track the practice by the amount of usage.
Suppose you want to break your smoking habit. You smoke daily 25 cigarettes
Your 30-day Trail Goal would be:
“By April 1st, I would have smoked only 15 cigarettes daily for at least 15 days.”
Your incremental goal would be:
“For the first couple of weeks in March, I will smoke only 20 cigarettes daily.”
“For the last couple of weeks in March, I will smoke only 15 cigarettes daily.”
Once you complete your 30-day trial period, you can reset the goal.
Stopping Bad Habits? Ensure not an Addiction.Plan.Commit for 30 Days.Fix Start Date and Goal. Only Small Changes Click To Tweet
These seven strategies in stopping bad habits are critical in setting the groundwork for a habit change. But stopping bad habits is successful when you have a new positive, empowering behavior as a replacement. Next week, I will discuss habit triggers and how can we efficiently accomplish habit changes. Have you found these tips useful in stopping bad habits? Let me know through your comments.
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