3 Strategies to Break Your Bad Habits

Habits aim to simplify our lives by causing us to perform specific activities on autopilot, which saves mental energy. However, as you know, they don’t always succeed in simplifying our lives; they sometimes do more harm than good. At first, they may seem to be helping, but in the long run, bad habits create problems.

We need habits. No doubt. Without habits, we would have to consciously think about many of the activities we do without even realizing it. That would be very demanding, even impractical.

Imagine having to think through every single action you do while driving; it would quite demanding. Every time you get behind the wheel would feel as if you were driving for the first time. You would probably soon give up the whole enterprise.

Although we must cultivate habits, they can’t be just about any habits. We must make sure that our habits serve us, not sink us; support us, not sabotage us.

Examining your life gives you insight as to your habits. In fact, most of what you do in a day can be classified as a habit. Therefore, all you need to do is keep track of every activity you perform in a couple of weeks to have a clear picture as to your main habits.

With that comprehensive audit of your habits, you can begin to identify which habits are helping you and which are hindering you. However many times, you already have a good sense of your bad habits. For instance, you already know you overeat junk food or watch too much TV or spend too much of your time on Facebook or squander too much of your money on baubles.

The real struggle is with getting yourself to take concrete steps to change your ways and let go of these bad habits. Breaking bad habits is no small endeavor; you know this. It demands a firm resolve and stern discipline—and a bit of strategy.

At the core, you have three options.

1. Stop

Your first option is to stop the habit cold turkey. You set a day on which you stop the behavior, and on that date, you stop never to come back again. Easier said than done. It sounds good in theory (i.e. “just stop”), but it’s not easy to implement in practice.

That said, some people are so fed up with a bad habit (or are on the verge of suffering disastrous consequences) that they’ve been able to put a drastic halt to a bad habit.

2. Diminish

Your second option is to diminish the frequency at which you perform the activity progressively. That is, instead of eating junk food every day, you begin to skip a day, then two days, then three, until you no longer feel the need to stuff yourself with french fries.

3. Replace

Your third option is to replace a specific behavior by another: replace a bad habit with a good one. For instance, instead of spending your evenings watching TV, you may replace it by learning something you’ve always wanted to learn, such as swimming, cooking, painting, creative writing, playing a musical instrument, or whatever else you wish.

Registering for an evening painting class gives you something interesting to do instead of slouching on the couch in front of the TV set.

Breaking bad habits isn’t simple, but you must commit to it; the harsh consequences of your bad habits can significantly compromise your life. Even if the battle is fierce, you must keep at it until you win.

About The Author

Vladimir Elie

I help people learn and apply success principles and strategies so that they can get the results they want in life.