3 Powerful Ways To Break Bad Habits - Once And For All!

Habits are our Achilles heel. No matter how much hard we try and the external changes we make — houses, our sense of style, friendships and more, habits keep following us. Even more so when we start allowing these habits to take over our life.

breaking bad habits

Learning how to break a bad habit should be as easy as following a formula. It should be as easy as identifying what we want to stop doing and simply to stop doing it. But when our life gets stressful, that bad habit can become our crutch — something that gives us relief and comfort.

It’s okay to leave your dirty clothes all over the floor but when you have bad habits that stop you from pursuing your goals and being genuinely happy, then it’s time for real change. There are many theories on ways to break bad habits but the following are the three most powerful and effective ways you can do so.

Start Small and Find Someone to Hold You Accountable

Leo Babauta, the writer behind Zen Habits, has written extensively on how to go about making a change. The man himself has quit smoking, lost weight and gone from couch potato to exercise lover. Babauta listed several strategies to successfully break a habit.

First, start off by identifying the triggers of our bad habits. Maybe we snack whenever we have a big assignment thrown at us. Or you start isolating yourself whenever something goes wrong in life. Each one of your bad habits as a trigger. Break the trigger and you can break the habit.

Next find a healthier replacement to the bad habit. Instead of snacking to relieve the stress of a big assignment, go for a run instead. Instead of isolating yourself when things are going wrong, reach out to a close friend. Babauta encourages us to create reminders so we never forget our goal and he stresses the importance of positivity when going through this process. Never underestimate the power of an encouraging sticky note on your snack drawer!

breaking bad habits

Photo Credit: Neven Krcmarek

There are two key points that stand out from Babauta’s guide:

  1. Start small. - If it’s getting off the couch and working out you’re after, start with just one push-up. It sounds like nothing but it also means you have no excuse for not doing your single pushup of the day. No matter how late or tired you are, one pushup is always doable.
  2. Having someone to hold us accountable - Accountability, on the other hand, is there for us to not give up the minute we find it too hard to change. You only need one person who cares about your well-being to know about your goal. Have them hold you accountable by pushing you and stopping you from indulging in your bad habit.

Treat It Like a Business Plan

A well thought-out strategy is powerful for any business when goals need to be reached. So if you’ve got a bad habit you’d like to break, make a strategic plan.

Identify your triggers and list them down. Write down options to replace the bad habit. If you’re looking to lose weight, start by cooking a healthy dinner every night. If you want out of your job, email one person a day who may give you a better opportunity.

breaking bad habits

Photo Credit: Eric Rothermel

Use a calendar as a road map, hang it in a room you will go into every day and track your progress or carry a notebook with your goals highlighted for you to never forget them. These tools will have you stay focused. Drawing out your goal is even more powerful. Visualize what it is you want to achieve by creating a vision board. Carry images in your diary, have a vision board in your office or create one online.

Get To Know Your Bad Habit

Often, our bad habits are a sign of something else. We see people struggling to lose weight because they are emotional eaters. Others never work towards their career goals because fear holds them back. Sometimes we don’t even realize that our bad habit is keeping us back.

During his Ted Talk, psychiatrist Judson Brewer spoke about how we should look at our bad habits more closely to understand them. When do we most indulge in them? Do we fall into our habits when we are happy or only when we are frustrated or sad? Can we think of a time when we didn’t need this habit to keep going? Through these questions, we can identify the triggers of our habit. More than that, we can dig deeper to understand what’s causing us to use this habit as a crutch.

Failing to achieve your goals because of bad luck or a misguided decision is one thing but failing to do so because of a bad habit is even more tragic. Bad habits are our guilty pleasures but they often cause a great deal of self-loathing. It can feel impossible to ditch our bad habits but there’s nothing better than being on the other side.

Comment below to tell us what bad habit you’re working to break!
30 March, 2017
Written by:
Allen Brouwer

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