Do you wish you could break all of your bad habits?
Maybe you just want to change them or turn them into new healthy habits?
Changing habits can one of the toughest things we try to do.
I mean, because they’re habits so we do these things on a daily basis without even really thinking about them.
And I’m sure you’ve already heard the saying, to change a bad habit replace it with a new habit.
If you’re reading this you’ve probably tried that and to your dismay, you’re still stuck with your old habit clinging onto your leg like a toddler having a meltdown over a chocolate bar.
Let’s break down how to break bad habits and make new ones stick so that you can live your best life.
And kick those old habits to the curb.
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How are Habits Made
Habits are created by three things…
- Default/Routine Behavior
A trigger is an event that simply triggered a specific behavior to begin.
Your default or routine behavior is what you do once the trigger has gone off.
And the reward is what you get out of the default behavior.
The trigger, default behavior, and reward are all going to differ from person to person but this sequence is always the same to create our habits.
Our minds love instant gratification so if something happens and we create a behavior around that even something that immediately makes us feel good, we’re going to continue to do it.
This can be why habits are so difficult to break.
How to Break Habits
1. Call Yourself Out
The first step to breaking any bad habit is to recognize when you’re making up excuses or reasons why to keep these habits.
I know consciously you want to break these habits but as I said, your brain loves instant gratification and will do whatever it needs to do to justify getting it.
Think about it.
After a long day at work or a long day with the kids, what’s going to feel better, sitting on the couch with a glass of wine or pumping some iron in the gym?
Exercise, while great for your health, mind, and body, isn’t going to give you that gratification you’re looking for.
While sitting on the couch and relaxing will.
The point of all this is to simply check yourself and recognize your excuses as they come up.
If you want to get a different result, your old excuses are not going to work.
Be aware of them.
2. Be Aware of Your Default Behaviors
When something makes me uncomfortable I immediately grab my phone to scroll on social media.
It makes me feel better.
That is my default behavior. To ignore the feelings I’m having and reach for something that I know will immediately make me feel better.
Just like it’s important to be aware of your excuses and know when they’re helping you and when they’re not, it’s also important to recognize your default behaviors.
The things you do automatically without even thinking.
This is a bit tougher because uh, we do these things without thinking, but start by noticing what you’re doing on a daily basis.
If you want to exercise more, but you find yourself watching dog birthday parties on Youtube, begin to ask yourself, does this behavior actually align with my new goals or is this simply a habit behavior?
Notice when your default behaviors come up and replace them with behaviors that will help you reach your desired goals.
3. Create New Triggers
Triggers are what trigger a habit/default behavior.
In the example above it was a feeling of being uncomfortable.
For you, it could be that you want to go to bed earlier and not look at your phone until 3 a.m.
The trigger would then be to set an alarm on your phone to put your phone away in another room before you go to sleep.
Or if you want to exercise before work, lay out your workout clothes the night before and place them over your sink so you have to physically move them before brushing your teeth in the morning.
Create a trigger that forces you to create a new behavior.
The best triggers are the ones that get in the way of doing something you normally do every single day.
Such as placing your workout clothes over your sink so you know you’ll see them and it will force you to make a conscious decision about what to do with them next.
4. Set up Better Rewards
When I was a kid I hated talking on the phone.
Who am I kidding, I still hate it. Seriously who calls anyone anymore???
But anyway, I always had to call my friends to come over but I didn’t want to do. So my mom would offer me a fun toy or a treat as a reward after I finished the call to my friends.
As adults, we still need rewards for doing things.
Sometimes these rewards are instantaneous.
Like sitting on the couch instead of working out or scrolling social media instead of facing my feelings.
In order to stick to our new habits, the rewards have to be pretty dang good for the work we’re about to put in.
And let’s just be honest, the reward of “just getting it done” doesn’t cut it for most of us.
If your new habit is to work out 4x a week for 21 days, buy yourself a new set of workout clothes or go on a mini shopping spree when you’re done.
Rewards help your brain see that the task is completed and gives it the rush and gratification it needs before moving onto the next habit or task.
5. Watch Your Words
Your subconscious mind takes everything you think and say as a self-fulfilling prophecy because it loves to prove us right.
Because being right is the best…right?
Well, would you rather be right or live your best life by creating healthy habits that stick?
If you are constantly saying you can’t break your habits.
Or you’ll never be [ insert thing ] then your subconscious mind will do whatever it needs to do to keep you right where you are.
Making breaking old habits a whole heck of a lot harder on yourself.
Instead, tell yourself creating new habits is so easy, you always create new healthy habits, and creating new habits is really fun.
I know it sounds cheesy at first but I can guarantee telling yourself how easy something is, is going to make you do a lot quicker than moaning and groaning about how hard something is.
6. Focus on One Habit at a Time
There are literally 101 habits you can take on at once to overhaul your life.
Seriously, there are, you can read about 100 life-changing habits you can start today right here.
But don’t try to change everything at once.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, your old habits weren’t habits in a day and your new habits will take time to stick as well.
And sticking to one habit at a time will help you go all in on that one habit.
Then make sure to celebrate it or at least reward yourself, complete the cycle and then start in on a new habit you want to make or break.