The major issue we tackle on a daily basis is dealing with change. Changing one’s bad habits for the better seems intimidating for most of the lot and the ones who went that route could only persist for so long. Regressing back to one’s bad habits after a while of cultivating good ones is what we often come across on a daily basis. The friend of yours who can’t get by a day without a puff of smoke or that guy you know with a heart issue and still pounces on that Oreo Mint Chocolate Chip pie blaming a bad day at work, there are people everywhere around us with habits they would want to but can’t get rid of.
Our daily lives are nothing but short snippets of our good and bad habits. What separates the highly successful and euphoric people from the remaining lot is which one outweighs the other. The happy and peaceful person is the one who has somewhat mastered self-control over his or her habits. If you are determined to bring about a change in your life for the better, read on about the strategies that would help you do so.
11 Step Strategy to Change your Bad Habits
While people are striving to motivate themselves in doing the good things and formulating good habits, there are others who just can’t seem to get away from these habits. So, what compels making the change so difficult for these people?
If you are one of those willing to put in the efforts required to get rid of that bad habit you loathe of, read below the 11 Steps to successfully change your bad habits and make way for a pleasant and beautiful future.
Identify and Acknowledge what is compulsive
The first step in solving a problem is recognizing and acknowledging that a problem exists in the first place. Defending yourselves or coming up with excuses when someone makes a point of your habits is something you must give up right away. You can identify what is proving to be compulsive to you by taking note of the amount of guilt it causes you after it is done.
Go beyond rationalizing your habits and acknowledge all of them that aren’t doing good to you time or your health. Be it the amount of daily intake of coffee, cigarettes, the internet or cheesecake, once you admit your bad habits only then could you start taking action on curbing them.
Isolate your bad habits instead of fuelling them as triggers
“The lesson will always repeat itself, unless you see yourself as the problem–not others.”
― Shannon L. Alder
A fragment in the process of self-denial of bad habits is the practice of tying it down to matters and people who are beyond your control. A bad day with your boss shouldn’t compel you to gulp down two more glasses of alcohol. Although an improved workplace environment does help the case, you must try not to link up habits with events beyond your control. Habit formation is proved to form due to a chain of if-then situations
Smoking or consuming alcohol more due to stress at your workplace or home are the external events that trigger your bad habits. Isolating bad habits are the next step once you’ve got them identified. Once you tie them down to a particular incident, it will get the better of you if not addressed to. To easily get rid of your bad habits, learn to isolate and treat them as individual entities, without linking them up to a particular incident or person.
Giving up habits is hard, Replacing them isn’t
One of the appalling advice that I’ve ever come across in eliminating bad habits is ‘Why don’t you just give up’. Things don’t work out with such a simplistic approach when it comes to breaking a habit that has engrained into becoming a routine ritual to a person. The best solution, in this case, is rather to replace your bad habits by good ones, instead of exerting more on completely giving it up.
Once you are done with the above steps, you would have recognized your undesired habits and the triggers that lead to it. Now all you would need to do is plan in advance the substitute good habits which will be replacing those bad habits. For example, when you are compelled to check your Emails or Facebook in the evening, replace it with a 10-minute stroll, benefiting you health wise and keeping a check on your daily internet consumption. Writing down a sentence when you begin to procrastinate is another way to get your writer’s block at arm’s length.
Work on improving your Willpower and Motivations
We seek inspiration in many things but what really motivates is when we are emotionally attached to something. One of the primary focus of creative fiction writing is developing characters that are in tune with the reader, and the importance of emotional attachment here is unquantifiable. When your desire and willpower in eliminating your bad habits are in tune, that is when you would likely achieve success curbing them.
According to the Self-determination theory, Intrinsic motivation is essential in achieving what you set out for. Motivate yourselves to act by linking them up with strong emotional reasons which will in some way affect your future happiness. Give yourselves strong emotional reasons to make the change, with things like how your friends, family, community, and yourselves would be affected by it in the long run.
Associate more with people who value habits
A part of a strong willpower and motivation surfaces from whom you associate yourselves with. We covet what we see every day and don’t let your association with these people turn into your daily habits. Meet and socialize with people you conspire to be and those whose habits are the ones you crave for. Confront your friends even if you have to when they start nagging about your desire to change yourselves for the better.
You can also join forces with the positive people to help you on your mission of inculcating good habits. Try to surround yourselves with people you look up to, and soon your bad habits will go down the drain.
Formulate and write down your goals
“Fail to plan and you Plan to Fail” is the saying of the century, and if you’re still reading this, the odds are high that you have tried and failed in curbing your bad habits before. This would help your case even better, giving you a lot of cues in looking for the possible causes of failing in eliminating a bad habit. First write down the habits you would love to see eliminated from your daily routine.
Now if you’ve tried and failed at doing so before, write down all the reasons that caused you to give up trying. Next to it write down how will you tackle it this time, use the strategies mentioned here to chalk out a grand plan to kick that bad habit out of your routine. A study by UCLA concluded that people who visualized positive happenings were more likely to succeed than their peers who didn’t do so.
Be Realistic in your approach
While it has been mentioned about writing down your bad habits and planning of giving them up, do not overdo yourself by planning to tackle all in a go. If you are bogged down with a string of bad habits, write them all down, but tackle them one at a time. The shorter your area of attention is, the better will be your focus. Try to change more than one thing at a time and you are destined to fail in changing your habits.
Trying to read more or workout more? Plan to increase it by steps of 5-10 minutes instead of determining to wake up an hour or two earlier and failing at it. Making and Mastering minor changes in habits is a sure-fire way of planning for success.
Take Baby Steps towards your goal
In a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London addressed about the number of days required to form a habit. Given that a short time-frame is inspiring, people were made to believe that 30 days of anything new would develop as a habit, but this research has proven that it takes 92 days or near over two months to inculcate a new habit in anyone.
Now you can start taking baby steps towards your goal and try to maintain it for 2 months. Stick to your newly developed habit to the mentioned time-frame and you’ll see yourselves successful in restraining your bad habits.
Never fear to Ask for help
Be it friends, family or community, always feel free to seek out help when in need. If you’ll never ask, the answer will always be No. Join communities and attend meetups to connect with the like-minded people to share and learn from their experiences. Pair up with someone and work on quitting your bad habits together, this way you would also have someone to keep a check on you.
Let the people around you realize how important this is to you and seek them to support you during your extremely hard times.
Reward yourself for small achievements
We all love being rewarded for your accomplishments, and the brain has always been hard-wired to work for rewards. Reward yourselves with small and unrelated material benefits upon successfully accomplishing a milestone. For example, after a month without a puff of cigarette smoking, reward yourselves with a treat or night-out with friends.
Make sure the reward is unrelated to the habit or it will cause the chain of events to continue further.
Love yourself, Accept yourself, Forgive yourself
We are all humans, and none of us are perfect and striving to be one isn’t too fair. We will all fail at something at some point and hating oneself for it will do no good to ourselves. Learn to love the way you are and respect yourselves for who you are. Your actions sure do define who you are but do not let them affect your pursuit of changing to be a better person than you were yesterday.
If you fail a day in achieving your goals, start afresh the next day without guilt but make sure you learn from it and move on.
“Success is going from Failure to Failure, without the loss of enthusiasm.”
– Winston Churchill
What are your thoughts about these strategies in forming a strong streak of good habits? Shout out your thoughts and experiences below about your bad habits and how you managed to overcome them.
For further reading:
- 19 things you should plan today for better tomorrow
- Are you poor & living in poverty? You should read this