2. Find Your Why
Why do you want to break this habit?
Finding the why is essential, because it’ll give you the strength and the motivation to keep going when your will dries out – because yes, there will be times when it will.
For example, I’m trying to stop eating junk food for these reasons:
- First, because I want to be more healthy.
- Second, I want to feel stronger – and eating healthy food gives me more energy.
- Third, because I want to lose some weight.
Depending on the day, I remind myself one or all of these reasons to keep me going. One of them works on me – and it’s not always the same one!
3. Habit Tracking
Find a way to track your habits.
What’s important is to not judge yourself. The goal is to be aware of your progress, not to criticize it.
4. Replace It With A Good Habit
Instead of saying you need to stop a bad habit, start doing the opposite habit and focus on that. For example, I could say I need to stop eating:
- fast food
- fried food
Or I can say I need to eat more:
- white meat
- Instead of trying to watch less TV, read more books.
- Instead of trying to be less miserable, try to be happier.
Focus on the positive stuff! On what you can do and not on what you can’t.
The 2-minute rule
And since sometimes, all it takes to start a good habit is exactly that – to start it – check this out:
5. Remove Temptations
Breaking a bad habit is difficult on its own. Trying to do it while having temptations around you is nearly impossible.
- Want to lose weight? Don’t keep junk food at home.
- Want to stop watching so much TV? Have the remote control away from your bed so that you need to stand up and go get it to turn it on.
Such a simple thing, but it makes such a difference…
6. Make Sticking To The New Habit Easier Than The Alternative
Meanwhile, you can find ways to help your new habits stick.
- Want to eat healthily? Have healthy meals ready to eat. When you’re hungry, you just want something to eat quickly – you don’t care if it’s healthy or not.
- Want to start reading more books? Keep a book near you – and the remote control away.
- Want to wake up early? Leave the blinds open. Not so easy to stay asleep if you have the sun blinding you.
The power of willpower
To help your new habits, you may want to give your willpower a boost. Do you think it’s possible?
7. Get A Friend To Help You
Find a friend you trust to hold you accountable for your actions and talk to them about what you’re trying to do.
Ask them to track your progress daily to see if you’ve done anything you shouldn’t.
If they want to stop a habit, too – the same, or a different one – so much the better. You can keep track of each other and motivate each other when one of you feels down or disappointed.
8. Don’t Overreact To Failure
- Watching TV for 5 minutes more than you said you would won’t destroy your progress.
- Eating one chocolate cookie won’t destroy your whole diet.
- Forgetting to wash the dishes once won’t make your home a mess.
Don’t overreact to little incidents. Leave them behind and keep going with your new routine. Don’t give up at the first sign of failure.
9. Set A Plan B
Failure will come at some point. You can’t be perfect all the time. That’s why you need to get prepared for the time when failure comes.
What can you do about it?
Make a plan B to follow when you go off schedule. When that happens, you have to remind yourself:
If I fail, I’ll follow plan B, but I will never give up.
Plan B can be a small “punishment” or a change to your schedule for the next few days.
For example, let’s say you’re trying to limit your alcohol consumption, but you go to a bachelor party and drink more than you should. Plan B can be that you can’t drink an alcoholic beverage for the next week/ 2 weeks/ a month. Choose something effective as a punishment, but still doable.
After your punishment is completed, you need to remember that it’s like you never did something different than what you should. Don’t hold a grudge against yourself!
10. Stick It On A Wall
Write the end result on a paper and stick it on a wall – preferably, the one you see once you wake up. This way, it’ll be the first thing you’ll read when waking up and the last thing before going to bed.
Otherwise, you can put it in the room where it can be more effective. For example:
- Trying to cut back on sweets? Put it on the fridge door.
- Trying to stop watching TV? Put it on the TV.
- Trying to save more water? Put it on your bathroom door.
Instead of the end result, you can also write an insult like:
Do you really want to destroy the planet today?
It may be more effective – and a little funnier. We all could use a little bit more laughter in our lives!
11. Identify Triggers
Sit down and think of the situations when there’s a higher chance to cheat.
When you’re tired? Sleepy? Hungry? Sad? Angry? Disappointed? Lonely? When you’re out alone?
Then, find ways to stay away from these situations as much as you can. Or create a plan B for these situations – as we talked about before.
For example, I eat more sweets when I’m sad. Now, it’s not like I can decide I’ll never be sad again in my life. (Even though, I’d be totally okay with that. 😉 )
But I also eat sweets – or other junk food – if I get out while hungry. This is a situation I can do something about. So before going out, I make sure I eat something at home.
12. Get Away
Sometimes, our bad habits aren’t triggered by situations that depend on us, but it’s the environment around us that encourages these bad habits.
- If your friends drink a lot, there’s a higher possibility you’ll drink more often.
- If your friends don’t work out regularly, you have fewer chances of doing it yourself.
So, it may be a good idea to find people who are after the same things you are. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to ditch your friends and family; just expand your social circle.
13. Use Commitment Devices
If you find it difficult to stick to the new habit, blackmail yourself! Cruel, but effective!
14. Remind Yourself Why
Set up reminders throughout the day to remind you what you’re trying to achieve and why you’re trying to achieve it.
Just set the reminder at different times throughout the day every week or so. The first time I tried this, I set up the reminders at the same time every day – at 12 pm, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm. After a while, it ended up as a way for me to tell time.
After the first couple of days, every time I heard the reminder, I was:
Oh, it’s 6 already?”
15. Reward Yourself
Have a weekly goal and every time you reach it, reward yourself.
Just be careful! The reward shouldn’t be related to your old habit!
- If you’re trying to walk 20 miles/week, the reward shouldn’t not moving from your couch for half a day.
- If you’re trying to stop watching too much TV, the reward shouldn’t be watching reruns for a whole day.
What are you trying to do? Saying to yourself that the old habit is good and that’s a reward?
Nope! That’s the wrong approach.
Instead, organise a night out with friends, a movie night with your boyfriend/ girlfriend or a family dinner. Stay connected with your closed ones and with people who encourage you to follow your dreams and help you reach your goals.
16. Make It A Challenge
We always get more fired up when we have a challenge ahead of us. So make a bet with a friend that you can actually do it.
A little more extreme than just asking someone to track you, but definitely a good motivating technique to bet money on it.
There are also apps that can help you with this, and if you lose the bet, the money will go to the app. So, if you don’t have someone you trust to do it consistently, take a look at apps, like Beeminder.
Would you really want to waste money on it? No? Well, then you better stick to your plan!
17. Change Your Routine
- If you try to wake up earlier, find something to do in the morning. Otherwise, you’ll get bored.
- If you try to lose weight, realise you’ll be eating smaller portions, so cook less to not have leftovers – that you’ll eat eventually.
- If you decided to start running, get the right equipment – starting with good running shoes.
18. Change Your Mindset
Most things are in your mind.
- When you’re afraid of failure, it’s in your mind.
- When you believe you need to be perfect, it’s in your mind.
- When you’re getting stressed, it’s all in your mind.
The same way, when you’re trying to start a new habit or break an old one, everything is in your mind. It’s all about the mindset. If you believe you can do it, then you will!
I know, I know… Easier said than done.
But this doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Just that it’s hard…
Believe you can & you’re halfway there!
Especially if you tried and failed before, it’s difficult to believe you can actually do it, but guess what? You can! It takes only once to succeed in stopping a bad habit.
Why can’t this one be THE ONE?
19. Only For 30 Days
If you think you can’t do it for a long time, set a time limit. Follow your new habit just for 30 days. They’re not that many, right?
Still, 30 days are enough to form a new habit. So start with these and see how it goes at the end of the month. Then you’ll see how you’ll go from there.
But start thinking only these 30 days. If you want to, you can even get a calendar and mark the 30th day, so you can see it getting closer!
20. Be Patient
Patience is a virtue that only few have.
Good for them.
The rest of us have a tendency to want everything here and now. But for some things, it’s worth to wait for. Waiting makes the reward sweeter, doesn’t it?
And to be honest, you shouldn’t worry too much about the final result. Just take it one day at a time and focus on that day!
21. Don’t Procrastinate
And last, but not least:
Start now! Don’t try to delay saying – ahem… lying – to yourself one of these beautiful excuses:
I don’t have time now.
I’m too busy.
I’m too stressed this month.
Or my all-time favourite…
I’ll start on Monday.
I kind of love Nike for this ad!
And… we’re done! These are the tips I recommend you to try if you want to stop a bad habit.
Number 21 is the best one, so start now!
So… what do you think about these tips? Have you tried any of these? How did it go? What else have you tried? Go ahead and let me know in the comments below!
If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer! Any suggestions are always welcome, so tell me about topics you’d like me to write. And if you liked this, check out how to fight procrastination. You may find it useful!
See you next time!
Hi there, I’m Jenny.
Blogger/Internet Marketer/ Occasionally Cool Person
Want to get in touch?
If you have any questions, suggestions or just want to say hello, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. If you’re nice, I won’t bite!
And if you notice any grammar and/or spelling mistakes, please let me know. I’ll owe you a favour!