Change can be difficult, even when it’s a good change. Today we’re talking about habits—those things we do on autopilot each and every day and throughout the year that become commonplace in our lives. Successfully eliminating a bad habit is best accomplished by replacing it with new and improved one.
For instance, if you’re a workaholic who never takes their allotted vacation time, then planning a vacation this year would be one proactive way to make a positive change in your life and start creating a new habit.
Breaking a bad habit is not just a matter of willpower, as many of us commonly believe. There are key things you can do to ensure you break that bad habit without beating yourself up or falling back into your old ways. Here’s what the experts say the about the science behind habits and how best to change those undesirable ones.
1. Identify the habit you want to change.
You have to be mindful of what you want to change in order to change it. Take notice of what you’re doing habitually and turn off the autopilot on those behaviors. It’s not a simple endeavor, but one that is very doable if you have a plan of action. So, what is the habit you want to change? Own it.
2. Find the cues and triggers of the habit.
The experts on this subject say that bad habits are typically triggered by one of two things: stress or boredom. When you discover the motivation behind the habit, it’s easier to identify what you need to change. Is it an emotion you’re feeling? Is it the people you’re spending your time with? Is it the environment you’re in? Knowing the cue and what’s triggering the habit is the next course of action.
3. Replace the old habit with a new one.
Totally eliminating something you do every single day is hard, no question about it. It becomes much more manageable when you replace that bad behavior with a better one. Once you know what is cueing or triggering your habit, then the next step is to change how you respond to it in a more positive way.
4. Make an “if/then” plan.
Establish something new to take the place of the old habit. Research indicates that “if-then” scenarios are one of the most powerful tools for resisting triggers. Establish a plan: “If I’m tempted to ______ then I will _______ instead.” Start small, focus on consistency, and celebrate the small victories. This is the path to change!
5. Optimize your environment.
Trying to exercise willpower to change a habit has been proven to be ineffective. Wouldn’t you have already made the change if it was a simple matter of exerting self-control?
We all struggle with this in different areas of our lives. The most powerful changes happen when we manipulate our environment and optimize it in a way that makes it easier to perform the good, healthy habit and harder to continue that bad, unhealthy one.
We have included this short video because it does a really good job at explaining how a simple change of your environment is one of the easiest, fastest, and most effective ways to eliminate a bad habit. Check it out!
what strategies help you break a bad habit?
Let us know in the comments below!