How to Break Bad Habits and Start Making Good Ones
Breaking bad habits can be tough. In fact, it might be one of the hardest things you ever do. But it’s worth it. Bad habits can impact your mindset in a negative way and can even lead to physical problems over time. That’s why it’s important to break bad habits and start making good ones.
In this blog post, we will discuss some examples of bad habits, how to break them, and also how implement and maintain good habits. It’s easier than you think and by the end of this blog, you’ll realise how much of an awesome human you really are and how to reach your true potential.
Bad habits can be incredibly draining to your mindset. They are pretty difficult to crack because they’re formed over sustained periods of time – we’re not talking about days or weeks, more like months or years! These bad habits become ingrained in our lifestyle, which makes them very difficult to overcome. But…it’s worth the effort!
The thing about bad habits is that they can prevent you from exceeding in life because they have such an impact on your mindset. They can also cause physical problems over time, such as weight gain, pain, exhaustion and (in extreme cases), even onset of disease. Crazy, right?
Bad habits often follow a negative mindset and outlook, which can be pretty stress enhancing. And you know the thing about stress, it doesn’t feel that good and impacts everything, from our thought processes to our emotions. That’s why it’s important to break bad habits and start making good ones and it’s something we’re hugely passionate about at The Lifestyle Lab.
Out With The Old, In With The New
Us humans are complex beings and we’re programmed to follow the path of least resistance, meaning that we’re born to take the easy route – this is how bad habits become a part of us. The reason that most people relapse or fail when trying to kick a bad habit is because they think that they can just cut out bad habits and be done with it. It’s more complicated than that.
Before breaking a bad habit, we need to think of the triggers behind them, our thought processes, associated behaviours and how we can replace them with good habits.
Let’s think about smoking as an example. If someone wants to give up smoking, going cold turkey or simply replacing cigarettes with a nicotine patch, the chances of relapsing when quitting this way are high. This is because (for many) quitting smoking isn’t just about nicotine, it’s about much more than that, so getting a nicotine hit from elsewhere often won’t be enough to tackle it as there are habits associated with this too which are bloody complex.
A lot of smokers will be used to having a cigarette with a cup of tea (habit), enjoy a cigarette on their work break (habit), enjoy smoking when socialising with friends (habit) or even be used to putting their hand to their mouth as they would do when smoking (habit) – see how the complexities behind this? All of this would need to be considered and factored into breaking that habit cycle.
Thinking about the thought processes and behaviours surrounding a bad habit, then replacing them with new ones are the key to making positive change.
When talking about bad habits, the most common ones that come to mind (that people are likely to want to change) are things like smoking, drinking too much alcohol, eating unhealthy foods and not getting enough exercise. The negative consequences for your health, both physically and mentally, are more impactful than people realise. Good habits can improve your wellbeing in many ways. They can help you stay healthy, reach your goals, and maintain a positive mindset.
Here are five daily habits that are good for your wellbeing:
- Getting enough exercise
- Eating a well balanced diet
- Drinking plenty of water
- Spending time with friends and family
- Staying organised
These habits may seem simple, but they can make a big difference in your life. I’m a huge believer in not depriving yourself of the things you enjoy and having the best of everything in moderation, which really helps with maintaining good habits and keeping bad ones at bay. Something that our Fitness and Nutrition Mentor, Archie has incredible discipline and insight into. He transformed his entire life by replacing bad habits with good habits.
The best way to create good habits is to plan! Set goals, break them down into smaller ones, create realistic deadlines and know how to execute. Don’t go all in and instantly deprive yourself, making yourself miserable- that’s the best way to fail.
One of the favoured books within The Lifestyle Lab is Atomic Habits, which is an excellent read and something that (I think) all adults should be introduced to. The author, James Clear, breaks down exactly what you need to do to make change, in a way that can be easily applied to your day to day life by understanding the laws of Behavioural Change.
Overcoming your mind is easy. To introduce something new or break something bad from your life, start by telling yourself exactly when you will do something and give it a time. The specifics become a commitment with yourself, which will help you plan correctly, give you a goal to work towards and also makes procrastination that bit harder.
Don’t Quit The Gym!
For example, if you want to introduce a new habit, like going to the gym, this can be tough to maintain. The initial adrenaline rush from your first week after working out 3 or 4 times, you’ll be feeling great. Going from 0 to 100 that quick, it’s inevitable to lose momentum. We’ve all been there and caught ourselves in that trap!
Before you know it, you wake up one day, it’s raining, you’re tired and you know you can’t be arsed but you tell yourself you’ll “go to the gym later”. When is later? Define it. “Later” comes along, you finish work and you tell yourself you’ll go tomorrow and fit in an extra session on Sunday. Yeah, right! Tomorrow comes and you guessed it, the thought of going to the gym isn’t something that excited you, you make excuses but you convince yourself you’ll squeeze in 3 workouts before the end of the week. Fast forward to the end of the month and you’re contemplating cancelling your membership.
Remember, as humans, we naturally opt for the path of least resistance- don’t make it easy for yourself to fail. Be specific!
What can we do to stop that inevitable cycle of procrastination? It’s easy. Let’s pick up our example of going to the gym.
Be practical: instead of telling yourself you’ll go to the gym 3 times this week, start by going twice a week and work your way up. This is a more sustainable and practical way to ease yourself in.
Plan ahead: before introducing your new gym habit, tell yourself the days/times you plan to go. Commit!
Eliminate excuses: pre-empt that as some point you’re going to make excuses and fall off the wagon. Eliminate these opportunities and expect that feeling of dread of knowing that you have to drag yourself to the gym after a long day at work.
Do something before something: commit to go to the gym before work. It’s so much harder to fall off the wagon if the first thing you do is going to the gym before your day has even started. The positive that come from that you get the mindset boost you deserve and the day is then yours.
For tips of breaking the cycle of procrastination, and how you can get more done in less time, we highly recommend the book Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy.
Our Top Tips
Here are some top tips for breaking into good habits:
- Start small and gradually increase the difficulty of the habit over time
- Set a specific date by which you would like to have formed the habit
- Tell others about your goal so that they can help keep you accountable
- Find your why behind your goals
- Make sure that your new habit is something that you really want to do, not something that you feel like you should do
- Create a clear plan for how you will achieve your goal
- Practice self-compassion and be patient with yourself as you work to form new habits
- Enjoy the process of forming new habits and be proud of yourself
So there we have it. You’ve probably guessed by now that habits are habits for a reason – they’re easy to form and hard to break. But, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It just takes time, patience and consistency. The most important thing is to make a plan, get started and not give up! Remember, you’re an epic human being!
If you will like to join a community of like minded people who would assist you in your journey to break bad habits, sign up here and download our playbook for free.
“MOTIVATION IS WHAT GETS YOU STARTED. HABIT IS WHAT KEEPS YOU GOING” – Jim Rohn