In this post we are going to look at how to build good habits and break bad ones. Around 40% of our behaviors on a daily basis are driven by habit. The reason for this is to free up mental energy by putting repeatable tasks onto autopilot.
The way in which this works is great, but the problem is, most people throughout their life develop many bad habits. Bad habits can come in many forms such as an unhealthy lifestyle, poor diet, and getting distracted easily with things such as television and the internet.
This is the reason I wanted to cover this topic, because many people want to start an online business, be successful, or break away from the 9 to 5 working routine. The trouble is, you are never going to achieve this unless you start forming better habits
Once you have accomplished this, you will start to be more productive and start hitting your goals. We will first look at what habits are, and then learn how to build good habits and break bad ones.
What Are Habits?
It’s good to know what a habit is before you learn how to start breaking a bad one. Habits are basically the small decisions and actions you perform in your day to day life. The way your life is currently such as health, how happy you are etc, is the reflection and result of the actions you have taken up until this point.
“A habit (or wont as a humorous and formal term) is a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously.” Wikipedia
As the human brain runs mostly on autopilot, it is fed by your thoughts and what you think about every single day. This is why it is so important to feed your brain with good, positive information to form good habits. Once you master forming good habits, you can transform your life.
What causes bad habits?
Bad habits don’t just happen on their own, so you may be asking, what causes a bad habit? The answer is, bad habits occur due to multiple triggers. The key to breaking a bad habit is to first identify the cues which formed the habit in the first place.
- Location?: Bad habits usually occur when you are in certain locations. The actual environment plays a large role in forming your behavior. A good example of this is eating a lot of junk food at work. I’m sure a lot of people can relate to this one.
- People you are with: Behavior is contagious, meaning bad habits can be formed by being around certain people in a social environment. A an example of this is you may drink a lot more alcohol when you are around certain people.
- How you are feeling: Certain behaviors can also be influenced by how you are feeling. These are the 3 typical cues.
Physical: Example, When you are tired you may drink soda.
Mental: Example, Waste time watching television or browsing the internet.
Emotional: You are stressed out and start smoking cigarettes.
- Events before the habit: Habits can be triggered by other kinds of behaviors. An example of this is, you may crack open a beer as soon as you get home from work every night.
- Timing: You will find that you’ll do you habits on certain days and times. Again using alcohol as an example. Drinking every Saturday night.
Ways to Break Bad Habits
You should now be aware of what a bad habit is and what triggers these bad habits to happen in the first place. Let’s now look at ways to break bad habits.
#1 Create a substitute
Plan ahead and have a substitute for your habit ready in advance. For example, instead of picking up a cigarette, do some breathing exercises instead. There are many different things you can use a substitutes.
#2 Eliminate Triggers
If take the triggers out of the equation, then you will not perform your bad habit. For example, if you want to cut sugar out your diet, throw away all of the cookies and candy in your house, or do not buy them in the first place.
# 3 Teamwork
The problem with trying to achieve something on your own is, it’s easy to give in and quit. By teaming up with somebody, it’s not only a great motivator, but it’s also a bit of friendly competition, and also somebody to celebrate with when you hit your goals.
Visualizing yourself succeeding can be very powerful. It doesn’t matter what habit you are trying to break, using visualization techniques will crush any bad habit. An entire post on these kind of techniques will be covered on this blog.
# 5 Using the word “But” and “I Will”
Most people use negative self-talk which is very destructive and prevent you from achieving your goals or trying new things. Telling yourself you suck and just giving up is the easy option. Whenever self-talk appears in your head, always finish it off with a sentence using the works “but” and “I will”.
“I’m out of shape, but I will be in shape a few months from now”
“I’m no good at (a certain skill) but I will master it”
The list goes on and on and can be used for pretty much anything.
Ways to Form Better Habits and Make Them Stick
In this section we will take a look at ways to form better habits and how to make them stick.
# 1 Starting small is key
Most people want to jump right in and create huge changes. The main problem with this is it takes a lot of willpower to stick to the plan. Research has proven that willpower works very much like a muscle. As a muscle gets tired after a certain amount of resistance, so does your willpower. Once it goes, this will lead you to quit.
# 2 Celebrate small wins
Celebrating your progress and gains is crucial to keep you motivated. This is why you start off small, and then reward yourself for those small gains. There’s a very good reason for this, and that’s because each time you reward yourself, the reward circuitry in your brain gets activated.
You will get a feeling of achievement and pride which will motivate you to continue and take further action. This is why it’s not a good idea to plan long goals that are too far away.
#3 Clear goals and intentions
If you have no clear vision of your goals and exactly what you want to achieve, you won’t be successful. It would be like a car in the middle of nowhere with no map, driving along and seeing where you end up.
You have to have a specific clear plan or blueprint of exactly what it is your going to do.
#4 Environment is key
The way things are laid out in your home are key to successful defeating your habits. If you are dieting and have something like cake easily accessible on the side as soon as you enter the kitchen, chances are, you are going to eat it!
Before you set out in your quest to defeat your bad habit, you must first deliberately change your environment. A good example of this is, if you find that you are getting easily distracted by the television when you are working on your business at home, put the remote in another room.
#5 Invest in the habit
If you invest a lot of time and effort into a project, it’s hard to let go of it. You can do this by creating a visual reminder such as a calendar.
#6 The right kind of people
The people around us play a huge part in our behavior. Research has shown that not only do we adapt the same feelings as those around us, but also the same goals. If you are around the wrong kind of people then this can leas to disaster.
Hope you enjoyed this post on how to build good habits and break bad ones and that you now have more knowledge on how you can achieve this. Don’t forget to bookmark this post as a reference, or even print it out. If you’ve ever broken a habit or even in the middle of doing so, let me know your results in the comments.