Have you noticed that we are creatures of habit? Whether our habits are good, bad or indifferent, we all have them. Some are subtle while others are obvious and even offensive. Habits are developed over the years from the teaching our parents pass down, outside influences, observations and (of course) practice. The many habits we develop throughout our lives influence our relationships and quality of life, so it is important to evaluate them from time to time and replace bad habits with good ones.
Tips on How to Break a Bad Habit
Before you can make any change in your life, you need to know what you are changing. Bad habits range from things you say to the things that you do, some more severe than others. If addictions are involved then it can be very challenging to overcome a bad habit. Start by identifying the habits you want to change; overeating, smoking, pessimism, being judgmental, poor self-esteem, whining, short temper, being late to work, procrastination, over scheduling, frivolously spending money, etc. The list can go on-and-on, and I bet we all could find half a dozen bad habits we want to change without thinking too hard and long about it.
You need to stop making excuses for why you do what you do. The more information you have about your bad habit, the better. For example:
- I remember telling myself I smoked because it helped me to relax. This was a huge lie, but it was easy to believe, once I learned the truth about smoking and the health effects of smoking I realized just the opposite was happening.
- After my divorce I got into a bad habit of spending money that I did not have on things I did not need. I was buying crap, and I rationalized it by telling myself that I deserved it. Eventually, my credit card bill opened my eyes to that excuse.
- I used to have half a dozen excuses for not exercising; I don’t have enough time, it is boring, no motivation, there isn’t a convenient place for me to do it, or I don’t want to hurt myself. But after I found myself wanting to feel better, be desirable to the opposite sex and be a good role model for my daughter I realized again that I was making excuses and I was also passing along bad habits to my daughter.
No More Excuses!
Have a plan of action. Now that you know what your habit is and your common excuses to look out for you need to have a plan of action. If you are quitting smoking then you need to decide whether you are going to do it cold turkey or with another resource. If you plan on getting in shape are you going to change to a healthier diet, join a gym and lose weight naturally? Know what to expect when you break a bad habit. There will be feelings of loss, and you may get discouraged at times. Some habits are addictions, others have been used to cope with life, and some are just from years of practice, but they can be broken.
Take baby steps. You aren’t going to want to change every bad habit you have all at once. However, you decide to tackle the changes to improve your life you want to leave yourself room to make mistakes. You aren’t going to wake up the next morning completely changed a person. It can take several weeks to overcome a bad habit.
Replace bad habits with good ones. Whenever you give up something, you need to find things to replace it. Bad habits are usually created to fill a need or desire. Find a healthy alternative to whatever that bad habit was fulfilling.
Commit to the lifestyle change. You’ve got to do more than just say you are going to do something; you need to commit to it. Write your goal down and post it somewhere you will see it often.
Visualize the new you. I love this tip because it does work. Find the time to relax, usually right before bed, and spend a minute thinking about the new you. How you will look and feel; the new things you will be doing. Plus it never hurts to do a little day-dreaming.
If you have recently been divorced, then you are likely at a point where you feel like you need to make a new start. This is a perfect time to break away from old, bad habits that have haunted you and replace them with life-changing healthy ones.