We all find ourselves doing something that we wish we could stop. Bad habits can easily become parts of our lives, holding us back, or at least annoying us (and our loved ones). Whether it’s poor eating habits, smoking, or defaulting to watching TV all evening rather than devoting some time to family or to productive pursuits, it’s possible to stop your bad habits.
Identify the Habit You Want to Change First
The first step is to identify bad habits. You have to first recognize that you have a habit that you want to change. Once you know what that habit is, you can tackle it.
Many of us actually have several bad habits that we would like to change. Don’t try to attack everything at once, though. It’s easier to change one thing at a time than it is to try and completely make over your life at once.
Prioritize your bad habits, and choose the most pressing issue to focus on first. You’ll have better luck overall if you take this approach.
Take Small Steps
Depending on the habit in question, you might need to take small steps in order to succeed. While some people have luck when they quit smoking cold turkey, not everyone finds success with this method. They might need to step back by smoking fewer and fewer cigarettes each day, or looking for other strategies to help them step back gradually.
The same is true when you want to stop watching TV as much. If you are used to watching four hours of TV each night, you will have a hard time just stopping. You might need to cut out one hour at a time.
Make your changes gradually in a way that is manageable for you if you want to make the changes in your life “stick.”
Replace Bad Habits with Good Habits
It’s not enough to just stop doing something, however. In many cases, you will be more successful if you replace a bad habit with a good habit. Many people replace smoking cigarettes with chewing sugar-free gum. When trying to stop eating poorly, it’s a good idea to replace junk food with healthier options. Make it easier to get to the healthy options, and save the junk food for a special treat.
As you prepare to overcome a bad habit, it’s vital that you look for a better behavior to replace it with. Gradually, the better habit will become your normal behavior, and the bad habit will disappear.
Try a Challenge
Sometimes, it can help to have a challenge when you want get rid of bad habits. Try a weeklong challenge to start, to see if you can do something different for an entire week. Then extend the challenge. Another tactic is to take a 30-day challenge. They say that it takes 21 days to develop a habit, so a 30-day challenge should help you replace your bad habit with something better.
A challenge can also be fun because it might provide you with a fun way to get an accountability buddy. One of the best ways to effect change in your life is to find someone who you can be accountable to. Making your efforts public can be a big help, as can having someone to help you along the way. Make it a competition, and you’ll have an even better reason to change your bad habits. You could even come with some sort of forfeit in order to encourage you further. What if you have do pay your friend $100 if you didn’t meet your challenge goal?
After Success with One Habit, Tackle the Next
Once you have had success with one habit, move to the next on your list. Make sure you acknowledge your good efforts and then consider what other bad habits you want to get rid of. The fact that you have already succeeded once is likely to boost your confidence in your ability to move on to the next habit, hopefully allowing you to replace it faster than you did the first habit.
If you can keep moving through your list like this, you are likely to find that you really can replace most of your bad habits with good, and change your life for the better overall.