I’m sure you will agree with me that getting rid of bad habits is not child’s play. A habit cannot be tossed out of the window, neither will it disappear miraculously overnight! Getting rid of bad habits is an “undo-it-yourself” project that needs to be carried down the stairs, ONE step at a time. Of course it may be challenging, but it is not impossible. The simple secret lies in loving something greater than the bad habit. In the previous edition we discussed how habits are formed through the habit loop. Today we take a look at how to break bad ones.
In his book, “Atomic Habits”, Charles Clear pinpoints that bad habits threaten our mental and physical health, waste our time and energy and may lead to unhealthiness and poor performance. He believes that bad habits are formed as a way of dealing with stress and boredom. Everything from biting your nails, smoking, procrastination, binge-drinking every weekend, wasting time on the internet and social media and leaving your desk a mess at the end of a workday, are examples of bad habits that may result from stress and boredom. It is very difficult to simply eliminate bad habits; it took at least 66 days for them to form. The good news is that you can break them by teaching yourself new and healthier ways to substitute them. The following are important pointers on how to break a bad habit:
Make a commitment of only ONE at a time: Habits reside in the mind. The brain uses a lot of energy to process new information and you may max out your brain if you overload it with information. Select ONE habit to substitute and master it. Don’t underestimate the power of ONE small change;
Choose a substitute for your bad habit: You need to plan proactively on how you will respond to the trigger that prompts your bad habit, e.g. if you want to zero on fizzy drinks, you should stop buying it;
Join forces with somebody: Pair up with someone and quit together on something. You will act as accountability buddies for each other and celebrate your victories together. Knowing that someone else expects you to be better is a powerful motivator.
Visualize yourself succeeding. See yourself throwing away the cigarettes or going to the gym three times a week. Whatever the bad habit is, visualize yourself crushing it.
You don’t need to be someone else, just return to the old you. You have lived without this bad habit before, which means you can do it again. Return back to the old you and remove the strain of wanting to be a whole new person.
Use the word “but” to overcome negative self–talk: It is ok to tell yourself “I still leave my desk messy some days, but it will be different a few months from now.”
Expect failure. When you skipped a gym workout, it doesn’t make you a bad person; it makes you human. But don’t lose focus. What separates top performers from everyone else is that they get back on track very quickly.
Remember, to successfully substitute bad habits takes time and effort, but mostly it takes perseverance. Most people who end up breaking their bad habits are the ones who try and fail multiple times before they make it work. The secret of change is to focus all your energy NOT on fighting the old, but on building the new (Socrates).
2019-04-29 09:59:31 3 months ago