Habits are terribly hard to break; ask anyone who has ever attempted to stop smoking or cut down on sugar intake for example. We all have our vices, some we could live with and others become so life-crippling that makes it crucial for us to do something about them. Topping the list of new year’s resolutions is usually a habit or two that we are in dire needs to break, but what is the rate of success? Next to nil unfortunately! Unless we take serious measures to reach our goals, breaking bad habits is downright difficult and requires diligence, perseverance and cutting ourselves some slack along the way. Read below for some tips to help you break your bad habit once and for all while maintaining your success.
1 || Understand Your Habits
From the moment we wakeup till the moment our heads hit the pillow, we are immersed in routines and habits that form our day’s routine minute-by-minute. Why do we rely on our habits so much? For the simple reason that habits help us make less decisions in a life that feels like we’re bombarded with decision-making moments that take up so much time and energy. Hence habits kick-in to ease some of that decision-making pressure off our backs by moving us into the auto-pilot mode most of the time. Our brains unfortunately do not distinguish between good and bad habits deeming all habits crucial to our survival. Thus understanding your habits is the first step in solving a problem.
2 || Pinpoint The Cause Behind Your Habit
True you can easily pinpoint the habit or habits that you are desperate to change. Yet that is not enough! You need to delve deep inside to truly understand the underlying motives behind some of your habits. You can do this on your own by monitoring and tracking your habit for some time, or you can even acquire the help of a professional. Comfort food is a vice for all of us; when do you resort to mindless eating the most? What foods do you mostly crave? How can you find another distraction to fill in the need that moves you to eat mindlessly? Are there specific places, people, timings, or circumstances that push you to eat? If you smoke, you are probably addicted but could it also mean that you crave some time on your own to pause and think? Wasting time on social media may be your way of procrastinating and delaying work on other more urgent problems. Define the function of your bad habit before you can attempt to solve it!
3 || Find The Alternative or The Solution
Now that you’ve identified the underlying causes of your habit, work on finding the most doable solutions. Many times the solution is much easier than what you would expect. If mindless snacking in the afternoon is the result of missing your daily lunch when you’re at the office, then schedule time out for having lunch, prepare a lunch box the evening before, or make sure to have a proper meal ready for you when you arrive home. If you’re annoyed by your habit of wasting time on phone games, then perhaps your problem is more deeply rooted. Could you be avoiding spending time with your partner? Do you need to do further work on your relationship? Remember that you must replace your habit with another positive one that serves the same function; even if ‘positive’ might mean a painful route that you have to go through.
4 || Cut Out Your Triggers
Once you have identified the possible substitutions to your bad habit, the next logical step is to find out any triggers that might make you deviate from your goal and to cut them out. IF your coffee requires you to have a smoke, then you should work on avoiding caffeine for a while as the coffee will be a major trigger for you. Monitor yourself for a while to come up with a list of triggers so you can watch out for them.
5 || Write
Writing is magical sometimes. Write down your commitment to change and refer to it often. Get a journal and monitor your habit and write down your observations; soon enough a pattern may emerge that can help you better identify and thus better solve your bad habits.
6 || Get A Buddy Or A Sponsor
Alcoholics Anonymous help recovering alcoholics by assigning them sponsors and getting them to meet with other alcoholics who share the same problem. These methods of recovery; knowing there are other people who share your problem, as well as being accountable to someone else (sponsor) are great tools of recovery that help you stay on track. Get a buddy and ask him to be your sponsor; or else find a professional that can act as that sponsor.
7 || Patience
Once the excitement of initial change wears off you will need further incentives to help you commit to your plan of change. Sorry to break it to you but the notion of needing 28 days to break a habit is highly overrated. Most habits are so ingrained and some of them have become second nature that they require effort, time and patience to be free of them. True 28 days can give you the required jumpstart but don’t give up if you don’t see fast results. Researchers claim that in reality any habit requires a period of 3 months and sometimes longer to stick, that is if you’re trying to acquire a new one to replace your old unwanted habit.
8 || Surround Yourself With Like-Minded People
We’re not saying that you should ditch your old friends, but make an effort to make new friends who live the way you want to live.
9 || You’re Only Human
Allow for slips you’re only human; the key is to get back on track after your slip. One slip doesn’t translate into complete and utter failure. Learn from your slips, analyse what went wrong and identify the factors that caused you to slip and get right back on track!
10 || Harness The Power OF Your Subconscious Mind
Visualise yourself succeeding and you will set the universe’s wheels in motion to help you attain your vision and goal.