Lack of exercise. Smoking cigarettes. Biting your fingernails. Gossiping. Whatever habit you need to break, no matter how difficult it seems, know that it can be achieved.
You can achieve anything with the right amount of willpower, support from the people in your life, and a realistic plan of action.
Studies prove it takes anywhere from two to eight months to build a new habit into your life. This implies habits can’t be broken or made overnight. It takes time. The process of change comes with a process — and a plan.
Before offering powerful and simple tips for a breaking bad habit, let’s discuss the background surrounding them. Ask yourself the following questions regarding the behaviors surrounding your bad habit:
- When did it start?
- How long have you been doing it?
- Is it associated with any feelings or emotions?
- How do your loved ones perceive the habit?
- Why do you want to stop?
Answering the questions above will help put things into perspective before you begin the process of putting your bad habit behind you.
Simplicity and authority combine to create these 10 actionable tips to break that troublesome habit.
How To Build Better Habits
1. Stop procrastinating
Twenty percent of people are chronic procrastinators. People procrastinate because they struggle with self-control and they’re unable to accurately predict how their future self will feel. They think they’ll be in a better position to finish the task at a later date.
Related: 6 Tips To Beat Procrastination
You could continue to put off breaking your bad habit for another day, or another week. Or, you could forget all the excuses and do it now.
2. Keep it simple
Don’t try to change more than one habit at a time. Start small, start simple. And instead of looking at your habit as countless obstacles to overcome, look at it in its simplest form: one habit you want to kick.
No matter what your goal is, create a series of smaller, easier goals along the way. Master one at a time and before you know it you’ll have kicked the bad habit entirely.
3. Get support
Once you set your mind to quitting, tell the people in your life your plans. Share your good news on social media and spread the good news any other way you can. Why? Telling other people your plans holds you accountable and you’re be more likely to succeed this way. You’re committing yourself to the change by making your plans known and you’re building a network of people to support you when it gets tough.
This kind of social support network is instrumental in the process of breaking a bad habit, no matter how small the habit is. Garner support by engaging people who make you feel worthwhile, provide help when needed and share in the joy of helping you succeed.
4. Set daily reminders
Sometimes all it takes to sabotage your progress is a memory lapse. A habit is a habit because it’s a formed behavior, which means it’s etched into your subconscious memory and it’s a part of your daily routine. In fact, 50% of our day is habitual, which means it’s easy to fall into a habit loop when faced with a trigger.
Hang post-it notes in your house, use a reminder tool for your phone, or download an app that will help you stay on the right path and remember what it is you’re striving for.
5. Recognize your triggers
To break the routine of a habit, you need to know what’s triggering you to engage in the habit. Set yourself up for success by 1) being honest with yourself and 2) removing triggers from your life if you can.
It’s not always possible to remove triggers, though. Say you want to stop biting your nails, for example. You can’t remove your fingernails, but you can wear gloves when you know you’re likely to bite them or chew gum instead. Finding a replacement for your habit is a great way to stop the cycle and break the bad habit for good.
Visualizing yourself performing the bad habit, and then visualize yourself ending the behavior. Imagine yourself without the extra baggage of the bad habit weighing you down. Picture the improved version of yourself, the version that is free of a debilitating habit. Imagine how it feels to be free of it.
Visualizing your success is like showing yourself all that is possible — all the power you hold.
7. Imagine the pain of relapsing
As you visualize what success looks like, you also may choose to imagine the pain of relapsing into bad or destructive habits. If you don’t succeed, what are the repercussions? Are there health risks involved? Will you disappoint people you love?
Imagining the pain of relapsing might be enough give you the extra incentive you need when following through with breaking your habit seems impossible.
8. Positively affirm
Positive affirmations are powerful tools to help you break that bad habit. Tell yourself you’re able to change. Tell yourself you’re worthy of change. Tell yourself you’re amazing. Even if you’re feeling anything but optimistic, positively affirm to yourself whatever it is you need to hear.
Say it out loud. Write it down. Hang it on the wall. If you’re trying to exercise more, tell yourself you are full of energy and you are strong. If you’re trying to stop gossiping, tell yourself you’re trusted and you can keep a secret. Words are powerful; say it enough and you’ll start to believe it.
There is a lot of power in meditation. Breaking personal habits is a highly personal process, so it makes sense you must look deep within yourself to find the power to change. There is no better way to practice self-connection than to meditate.
If you’re a beginner, start slow. Retreat to a quiet place and clear your mind. Focus on only your breathing and begin the process of learning to calm your thoughts. Clearing the clutter in your mind will allow you to connect with yourself in way that is conducive to your success with breaking a negative habit.
10. Don’t be a perfectionist
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up along the way. Work diligently toward your goal, but if you miss a day or make a mistake along the way, don’t let it stunt your progress. Get back up, dust yourself off, and know that no one is perfect.
You’ve heard it before: Humans are creatures of habit. This is true, but it doesn’t mean you’re a prisoner of your bad habit. You hold the power to change. The ability is within you. Reach deep within yourself and know you are capable of many things. Use the simple but profound tips above to work through your bad habit and make it an issue from your past. The power is within you.
Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks, a blog dedicated to helping others find happiness and success in their careers. She specializes in career advice but is also a health nut and DIY junkie with a passion for living life to the fullest. Follow her for more inspiring tips at @SarahLandrum.
Photo by raydo95