Breaking bad habits are hard. Ask anyone who has tried to change their diet or tried to quit smoking. The question is: why do we have habits? Our brains create patterns of behavior, that are triggered by certain things, and then become routine. For example, do you run for sugar every time you feel really stressed? I know I do. Instead of running for the closest vegan cronut, make it a point to become conscious of your behavior and stop yourself before scarfing down 3 tons of sugar. Instead, replace that cronut with exercise or meditation to get yourself over your stress hump.
It’s not impossible to break bad habits, it just takes dedication, motivation, and discipline. I think the best way to break a bad habit is to avoid “habit triggers” and replace the bad habit with a good habit. Sounds pretty easy, right? It is, but you can also take a few steps to help you along your way.
1. Write it down- Write down the good habit you want to create in your journal. Writing it can help you visualize what it is you want to incorporate into your life. After writing it on in your journal, write it on a post-it note and hang it on your mirror where you can see it everyday.
2. Make it a daily routine- Since you wrote it down on a post-it and left it where you can see it everyday, take steps to incorporate your new habit into your daily routine. For example, want to make the commitment to make exercise a good habit? Schedule non-negotiable time for working out.
3. Commit to 30 days- According to popular psychology, it takes at least 21-30 days to create a habit. Committing to 30 allows you to get a pretty solid foundation to continue incorporating your habit.
4. Make goals-Make specific weekly goals to mark your success. Goals help you mark your progress and keep you on track. After you reach your goals, make sure to treat yourself for your good work.
5. Start small- You can’t create life changing habits overnight. Make sure to take baby steps in the beginning. Do you want to create healthy eating habits? Transition slowly, by replacing one food item at a time so that you have a better chance to staying on target.
6. Find friends for support- You don’t have to go at creating good habits alone. In fact, get a few friends to go along with you. You all can support each other through rough patches and keep each other accountable.
7. Allow for mistakes- Expect that you’ll mess up at some point. It’s ok, if you fall off the wagon once in a while. Just make sure you get back up, dust yourself off, and jump back on.
8. Be kind to yourself- On the previous note, when you do fall, just know it’s ok and don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect.
9. Set yourself up for success- You can prepare yourself for your new habits. Want to start jogging in the morning? Lay out your workout clothes the night before. Want to stop eating sugar? Remove it from your kitchen; if it’s not there, it can’t tempt you.
10. Do it for yourself- Last but not least, create your awesome, life enhancing habits because you want to. Don’t do it to please someone else. This step is most essential for make good habits stick.
Since we are striving to be our best selves and achieve all of our hopes and dreams, creating and maintaining good habits will help us stay focused on our bigger goals.
Have you ever tried to break a bad habit? How did you do it? What good habits have you tried to incorporate into your routine?
Also by Krystle: 7 Ways to Avoid Burnout and Boost Energy
Photo: M I S C H E L L E via Flickr