5 Steps to Break a Bad Habit


Do you have a bad habit you’d like to break?

I posed that question in the Grow Strong Facebook group (are you in there yet?? That’s where the conversation is happening). Here are a few of the answers I received: emotional eating, snacking, Netflix, staying up too late (probably watching Netflix and snacking/emotional eating).

Imagine your life without the bad habit that you just can’t kick. Less guilt, less beating yourself up, less extra weight around your middle, less exhausting mornings dragging yourself out of bed…

What if…with a solid strategy and a 100% commitment, you could eradicate that self-sabotaging behavior from your life? How amazing would that feel? What would that free you up for?

Well, here’s a short guide to kicking your bad habit to the curve so you can free up all the time and space you’ve been wasting on behaviors that are detrimental. Sound good?

Step 1: Out of sight, out of mind.

When visual cues are no longer present, you’re less likely to reach for them. Your environment is stronger than willpower. If you are constantly surrounded by temptations to engage in a bad habit, you’ll eventually give in when you run out of willpower.

Step 2: Make it less tempting.

If you associate your bad habit with all the negative repercussions of engaging in the behavior, you might be able to talk yourself out of it. Also, if you project into the future and reflect on all the benefits you’ll receive from letting go of what no longer serves you, you’ll be even more motivated to restrain yourself.

Step 3: Make it hard to do.

As human beings we don’t really like to exert a lot of effort. When given the chance, we’ll take the path of least resistance. If you make your bad habit difficult to do, you’ll be less likely to do it.

Step 4: Create accountability.

In the same way humans like to conserve energy, we also want to avoid pain and shame. If you make yourself accountable to someone else by sharing your plan for quitting with them and asking them to hold you to it, you have a 85% higher chance of following through.

Step 5: Replace it with a better habit.

Nature hates a vacuum. If you remove one bad habit, another one will quickly fill its place. Bad habits are caused by the compulsion to avoid an uncomfortable emotion. Until you can learn to manage your emotions and change your state intentionally, you’ll find yet another numbing behavior to latch on to. Identify what you’re getting from your bad habit. What need is it fulfilling? Control? Grounding? Pacifying? Then, find a healthier way to fulfill that need.

If you are perpetually stressed, anxious, exhausted or unhappy, you’ll be way more likely to engage in bad habits. When I was burnt out and depressed, I had tons of bad habits — over-working, over-drinking, emotionally eating, over-caffeinating, and over-Facebooking. When I began to practice self-care and implement a healthy routine that de-stressed me naturally, a lot of my bad habits simply fell away. And that’s what happens…when you add in nurturing and life-affirming daily habits, you have less space for the ones that don’t serve you, and you don’t want to get in the way of the positive momentum you’ve created.

Feeling good begets wanting to feel good MORE. Success promotes wanting to do things that perpetuate MORE success. Progress fosters MORE progress. And the opposite is also true. Bad habits cause low self-worth which spawns even more numbing behaviors. You’re either improving or deteriorating.

Step back from your life and take a hard look. Are you going in the direction you want? Are your daily habits leading you to the life you wish for yourself? Are do you need to make some changes? If so, I’d love to help. Set up a free 30 minute healthy habits strategy session with me here and take control of your life.

Dana SkoglundComment