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7 Simple Strategies to Help You Kick Bad Habits

Most people don’t have that willingness to break bad habits.

They have a lot of excuses and they talk like victims.

Carlos Santana

We all have them: those negative behaviors that we do over and over again. In many cases, you may not even be aware of why you have them. It can often feel as if you are caught in a never-ending cycle of performing self-sabotaging acts. But, you do have some options and strategies that you can use to help you kick those bad habits.

1. Commit. The first step is acknowledging the habit and promising yourself that you are going to do away with it. Fix in you mind that you will do whatever is necessary to rid yourself of these annoying and self-destructive behaviors.

2. Come up with an “instead of” behavior. For example, if you have a bad habit of biting your fingernails, think up a different behavior to do instead. How about wearing gloves, or picking up a hobby that keeps your hands busy with knitting, woodworking, or doing other hand-work?

3. Look at your “why.” Write out a list of why it is important to you to stop the habit. You can probably come up with several reasons why you want to end the unwanted behavior. Looking at the example in #2, maybe you think it looks gross or uncouth to be seen chewing your nails. Perhaps you think it is an unsanitary or “germy” habit. Or you just can’t stand the way your nails look anymore.

  • Write down an exhaustive list of every reason you can think of to quit your bad habit. Then, use this list as your incentive to decrease the behavior.

4. Ask a friend or family member for support. If you tell your significant other that you want to work on stopping the nail-biting, you can then ask them to give you a cue of some kind to help bring it to your attention so that you can cease the habit.

5. Think about other conditions you might have that are contributing to your bad habit. Continuing with the nail-biting example, do you feel anxious a lot of the time? Do you worry about what’s going to happen in your future? Seriously look at the other factors in your life that might be causing you to perform the habit that you now find frustrating and annoying.

  • It might be time to work to resolve those contributing factors so you can rid yourself of the unwanted behaviors.

6. Think about bad habits from your past that you have been able to overcome, arrest and resolve. Give yourself a pat on the back. Celebrate your successes. Think about how handled those other issues. What led you to stop those behaviors? How did your life change or improve as a result of conquering the bad habit?

  • Recognizing that you have been successful in beating a bad habit before will infuse new confidence into your current efforts.

7. Build in a reward. For example, “When I don’t chew my fingernails for one whole week, I am going to get a manicure.” If I continue not biting my nails, I will reward myself with a manicure once a month.” Rewarding yourself is a sure way to recognize all of your hard work and your success at keeping your commitment to yourself. Try to make the reward fitting for the particular habit.

  • Maybe you can even “pay yourself” weekly designating your payment as “fun money” to spend how you wish.

Take some time to reflect on ways you might want to proceed to break a negative habit. You could make a self-commitment, think of a replacement behavior to do instead, or list out why you want to stop the behavior. Ask someone for support and take contributing factors to the behavior into account. Review how you resolved bad habits in the past. Finally, reward yourself.

You have the power to kick your bad habits. Begin today to take steps to stop your unwanted behaviors so you can live a more tranquil existence.

What habit are you going to start working on today?

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