3 Tips For Breaking Bad Habits

breaking bad habits

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Frustrating, isn’t?

You know you should quit your bad habits but you have no idea if that’s even possible.

You already tried many times and you failed miserably.

It’s always the same story. You imagine how great your life could be without some of your habits but you aren’t able to stop doing them.

Maybe you think that happens because you’re never determined enough. But I’m telling you it’s not your fault.

Everybody struggle with bad habits.

Especially with these:

  • smoking
  • alcohol
  • watching porn
  • binge watching Netflix
  • overspending
  • overeating
  • biting nails

Personally, I got rid of all of them excepting the last one(I’m still working on it).

Do you want to know how I did it? Fine, I’ll show you. Read this article and you’ll learn how to break your bad habits once for all.

Tip #1: Understand why you fail:

Bad habits are magnets that pull you away from your goals. They slow down your growth.

And some of them could even destroy your life. Yet, if you’re like most people, that’s not going to stop you from practicing them.

You’ll live most of your life after this infographic:

How many times have you gone through this? Most people can’t quit their bad habits. But not because they don’t want to.

Willpower is just not enough to break bad habits.

So, what do you need instead?

First off, you must understand how habits work. This picture should help you do that:

breaking bad habits system

As you can see, any habit has 3 elements:

  • A cue: This is the trigger that remembers you to practice your habit.
  • A routine: That’s the habit itself.
  • A reward: All habits give you some kind of pleasure that makes them stick.

Most people focus on the routine. But you shouldn’t do that. The trigger and the reward matter more.

Let’s talk about each one.

The trigger makes you start over and over again:

Habits are automated. You practice them whether you like it or not. But you don’t start them because you want.

You start them because your brain notices a trigger. It could be anything. Triggers could be places, different hours of the day, emotions and so on.

The reward makes your habit impossible to break:

Bad habits release a ton of dopamine. And when you repeatedly do something that put dopamine in the reward system, such as watching a movie or eating a Snickers bar, your dopamine receptors can start to down-regulate.

When the brain notice your dopamine is high, it starts to destroy some of its receptors. Then, when you have fewer receptors, you need more dopamine to reach the same effect, which causes people to start eating more junk food or watch another movie to feel the same reward as before.

You can say this is ‘’tolerance’’.

When you have fewer dopamine receptors and little dopamine activity, you’ll start to feel unhappy until you practice more of your habit to ‘’fix’’ it. This is called withdrawal.

Tolerance and withdrawal are the hallmarks of physical addiction.

That’s how bad habits work.

Complicated, isn’t?

Let’s translate:

  • your bad habits make you feel pleasure
  • your brain seeks that pleasure
  • you feel you sacrifice that pleasure when you try to quit

That’s why simple advice like “just stop doing it” are B.S. Habits can’t be really stopped. My first tip for you is to internalize this.

Tip #2: Don’t quit:

Ok, you can’t quit bad habits.

But you can change them. It’s possible and it’s easier than you think. You already did it many times in your life. And you can do it again.

The change starts with awareness. Answer these questions to understand your habits better:

  • When does your bad habit actually happen?
  • How many times do you do it each day?
  • Where are you?
  • Who are you with?
  • Why do you practice this habit?

Simply tracking such details on a piece of paper will make you more aware of the behavior and give you dozens of ideas for stopping it.

But remember: You’ll still need a plan. What are you going to do when your friends will call you to hang out and drink alcohol? (Example: stay at home working on a new project instead) What are you going to do when Instagram is calling to you to procrastinate? (Example: writing on your new book instead)

Don’t forget to cut as many triggers of your bad habit as possible.  

If you smoke when you’re at the club, then don’t go to the club anymore. If you eat chocolate because it’s in the house, then throw it all away. If the first thing you do when you come home from work is to watch Netflix, use a software to block your access on this website.

Make it easier on yourself to break bad habits by avoiding the things that cause them.

The harder is to start a bad habit, the more likely you’ll give up. The human brain hates the effort.

Tip #3: Set yourself up to succeed:

Have you ever heard about ‘’Homer’s The Odyssey’’?

It’s a great story. And I want to share with you a small part of it where our hero Odysseus was on his way home from the Trojan War.

His ship encountered a group of sirens — mythical women who are beautiful but…also birds.

Sirens have the ability to sing captivating songs that cause men to steer their ships into rocks in order to hear it better. Knowing this, Odysseus told his crew to tie him up and not undo him no matter how much he begged and pleaded.

Source:NGV

Now, what does this has to do with your habits?

Well, it’s about circumstances. The story shows you can set your circumstances in a way that’ll make your success inevitable.

Here’s how you can apply this lesson in your life:Let’s say you have the bad habit of staying up late and you want to wake up early instead.

You can put your phone on the desk, setting an alarm clock at 5:00 AM. You’ll get out of the bed whether you like it or not because you’ll want to stop the annoying sound. And once you do that, it’ll be easier for you to stay awake.

Let’s take another example: You want to drink more water.

You can throw all the soda from your house and buy a bunch of bottled water. So, when you’ll be thirsty, you’ll drink that because you won’t have anything else.

These types of systems guarantee success. And you don’t need so much motivation to implement them. You need a day to think about one and set up your environment.

Speaking of that, I recommend to surround yourself with people who live the way you want to live.

You don’t need to change your old friends, but don’t underestimate the power of finding some new ones. You can make good habits stick easier doing this.

Bonus Tip: Change your identity:

The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity.

Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity.

In other words, what you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously).

And to change your behaviors, you need to start believing new things about yourself.

How can you do that?

Well, there are 2 things you can do.

  1. Use affirmations: You can repeat them each morning. After a couple of months, you should start to believe them and act differently.
  2. Take small action steps: If you want to write 1,000 words/day, you need to prove yourself you’re a writer. To do that, you can write one sentence each morning. Or, if you want to go to the gym 3 times/week, you need to prove yourself you’re a fitness person that never miss a workout. To do that, you can do 10 push-ups each Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Do you like this idea?

Sometimes you don’t even need to become someone else, you just need to return to the old you.

So often we think that to break bad habits, we always need to become an entirely new person. The truth is that you already have it in you to be someone without your bad habits.

You didn’t had them all of your life. You don’t need to quit smoking, you just need to return to being a non–smoker. You don’t need to quit alcohol, you just need to return to being a person who doesn’t drink. Even if it was years ago, you already lived without some of your bad habits, which means you can most definitely do it again.

Conclusion:

You can break any bad habit.

You just need to change it with a good one and set your environment to work in your favor. Start with one habit at a time and be patient.

You won’t succeed overnight. But once you do it, you’ll change your life.

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