How To Break Bad Habits For Good (With TED Talk Video)
Most people who believed that good habits are vital to success may have read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you’ve had limited success bringing in good habits into your life, maybe you should consider learning how to break your bad habits as well. Because it could be your existing sets of bad habits that’s negating every single effort you put in.
I remember attending the Masters Of Wealth 2015 in Malaysia when the event moderator and also founder of JRT Network, Jason Tyne drafted a diagram showing how our thoughts would form actions, and these actions reinforce our beliefs and thoughts. I believe that this is exactly happening with habits, good or bad. When bad habits got into your belief system(as it often does), removing them would be a challenge.
Bad habits not only jeopardize your chance of success in terms of career and life, certain habits could also be detrimental to your physical and mental health.
“I don’t think I’ve had that many bad habits to worry with”
That’s what most people thought. Because at this point you would probably think of maybe a couple of habits that you would like to remove at most. That’s because when bad habits developed and become part of your daily life, you barely noticed it. Here’s a good analogy.
Well, if you are still struggling to identify your bad habits, here are some of the most common bad habits that people struggle to break :
1. Snacking Non-Stop
Nothing beats the pleasure of a single bite of chips or some premium dark chocolate before gulping all down with a can of soft drinks. And if you repeat it daily, don’t ever complain about the growing waistline. Or worse when you have some serious health problem from the sugar content.(Note to self: It’s too late for regret if you end up having diabetic complications)
2. Overspending Into Debt
When you get your monthly pay cheque, do you have the urge to spend on things just to pamper yourself? How about a trip to the classy restaurant? Or a branded bag that you’ve been eyeing for so long. You deserve all these after a month of hard work. That’s the common excuse. If you have this habit, you could find yourself broke before the end of the month.
3. Behaviors that bring stress, worry, and anger all the time.
What happened when things don’t go smoothly for you? Do you react emotionally or do you take it all calmly and objectively? If you are one who keeps obsessing on problems (and ends up worrying for nothing), check out my previous post on stopping obsessive thoughts here. It’s easy to say worrying doesn’t solve a thing but to actually practice it is another matter.
These are just some from the list from Reader’s Digest . They are pretty generic. I’m sure most of you would have been guilty with at least one of them. (I know I am). And if you don’t take action in removing them, it will definitely affect your life sooner or later.
But I don’t think those bad habits have anything to do with being successful.
Well, maybe not directly, but what’s the meaning of success when you lose your health and lifestyle? But if you really want to know some really bad habits that would keep you off the success trail, here are 3 bad habits from addicted2success.com.
1. Waiting for the right moment
Do you always hesitate when you are about to start a new project or learning something
new? Do you think “Maybe I should wait…” (till when???) And then you gave a few hundred excuses before shelving the idea completely. If you are to wait for the right moment, I’m afraid it would never come. Or perhaps it could, but the opportunities may just have passed you by. There is no right moment. Don’t wait or you will see any chance of success goes up in smoke.
2. Not learning from people ‘less’ than you
This often happened to the academical person and people who’ve lost their head after achieving a lesser degree of success. I’m not pointing fingers or stereotyping, but I’m saying this categorically based on what I observed around me. You could be a higher ranking executive in your company, or you could be the owner of your company.
The worst mistake you can make is to think you know more than the people who work for you. I remembered watching a movie 20 years back when a martial art coach said: “Even the master could learn from their student“.
3. The need to be perfect
Do you need to be perfect EVERY single time? I would prefer my surgeon or dentist to be a perfectionist. There’s definitely no doubt about that. (Getting the wrong teeth pulled out is kinda scary) But there is always a right time for that.
If you are forever demanding to be perfect, you would find it difficult to work with people. If you are working with your team, you would make life difficult for them. And if you are in business, sometimes waiting for things to be perfect means losing out to competitors. (Or worse, your product could be obsolete by the time you launch it, I know one company who learned this the hard way)
Alright… I got it.. but how do I break bad habits for good?
I wish there is a simple way of throwing out the bad habits. But unfortunately not. And for stubborn people (like me), the process could be a little bit harder and longer. But here’s some step by step guide if you are serious to remove your bad habits.
1. Understand your bad habit
There is a reason you develop your bad habits and if you are going to remove them, you have to understand the WHY. According to this post from JamesClear.com, bad habits are often attributed to stress and boredom.
If you have nothing to do on weekends, would you go on a shopping spree? I know some people do. Would you snack when you are stress? (I know I do). There is always a reason for your bad habits. Take time to identify them.
2. List them down.
It’s hard to change all of your bad habits at once, but a list of them is particularly useful. Just get a piece of paper and list 5 of your bad habits that you think you want to get rid off. When you list down your bad habits, it is a powerful psychological and physical act that says “I’m going to get rid of these habits“. It’s a powerful statement.
3. What do your bad habits cost you?
You’ve got a list ready. Now it’s time to write down the consequence if you continue your bad habits. If you listed down “Snacking late at night“, add in the consequence so that it becomes “Snacking late at night will definitely increase my waist size by 4 inches in 2 months“.
Better still if you can add some visual graphics as a stronger reminder. People have the ability to shut off the consequences conveniently when they are engaging in their bad habits. Be sure to write them down.
4. Make copies and put it at strategic locations.
If you are guilty of the few bites of chocolates at midnight, put a nice sticky note at the fridge. Something like “A piece of chocolate at the wee hour is expanding to my waistline” will do. We are forgetful creatures (Try remembering your new year resolution. Now you get what I mean). This is a good way to remind and interrupt your regular pattern of habits.
5. Replace your bad habits with a good one.
When you remove your bad habits, you leave a void. It is instinctive to revert back to our old ways. So think of a good habit that gives the opposite result of the bad ones. And try to practice that instead. A good example would be, if I’m always sneaking some snacks at night, maybe I can replace it with fruits. Apples and some grapes perhaps?
6. One step at a time.
You can’t just get rid of bad habits in a couple of days. Some of them has been in our daily life for years. Instead of going from one extreme to others, plan a transition that is realistic to be done. If you find getting rid of a few habits is too much to handle, how about starting with just one of them? Wait till you are sure that you have the one old habit out before you moved on to another one.
7. Be accountable
It’s very easy to say I want to stop ravaging the fridge late at night. It’s easy to keep that behavior for a couple of weeks. But what if you slipped up after a month or so? If you are serious about getting rid of your bad habits, then you need some sort of a carrot and stick system to motivate you.
As suggested by lifehacker.com. You can find yourself for each offense. Probably a dollar for each offense and donate the money for a cause at the end of the month.
8. Get Support from your friends.
If you are trying to break a major bad habit, one that’s going to jeopardize your success, maybe it’s good to bring in a trustable friend. Someone who could be brutally honest and keep you in check. That’s what true friends are for. It helps as you wouldn’t want to face your friend with all kind of excuses.
9. Be Patient with yourself.
Remember some of your bad habits have been around for years. I’ve spent more than 3 decades roaming on this earth, some of my habits could be with me since childhood. It takes time to totally get rid of bad habits. Sometimes there could be a relapse. Just remember to that you are a human after all. Don’t beat yourself up. Do keep up your effort.
It’s always the mind that gave in to the temptations of old ways. Train your mind to be more alert and aware of the signals or symptoms that would bring back the bad habits. Aside from getting rid of bad habits, mindfulness practice “results in increases in health, competence, and happiness“. (according to an article in Forbes).
Check out this fantastic TED Talk About Breaking Bad Habits With Mindfulness
So what’re your bad habits that you can’t wait to get rid of? I think mine is sneaking a few bites on snacks at night. (If you’ve noticed I’ve been mentioning chocolates and soft drinks a couple of times in this post). J Do you have any plans and strategies that remove bad habit effectively? Do share with me at the comments below.