How to Break a Bad Habit ...by Stan Hyman, PhD, LCSW
So you agree that you have adapted to behaviors that are not always best for you. You have created bad habits that have been hard to break. You find yourself in a comfort zone that keeps you from progressing, growing and getting better.
Here are seven tips to change that and break your bad habits. If you make changes last long enough you will find yourself adapting to the new behaviors…hang in there!
1) Know what you want. Know yourself. Take stock of who you really are and what you want the world to know about you. What is it you want to change? What bad habit are you disgusted with? Be very specific.
2) Get GOAL directed. Decide that you want to create a new habit, adapt to it and be clear that you are committed to doing so. A powerful, meaningful goal can drive us to new heights every day. Think about the positive effects that achieving your goal will have on you and what your life will be like when you do.
3) Replace it with something better. Once you know what habit you want to change think about what new habit you want to adapt to. For example, if you have been neglecting your health and not getting good nutrition, consider replacing just one of your meals with one that is more nutritionally sound. Let’s say it is dinner. Your goal might be to eat a nutritionally balanced dinner for the next 30 days. It may not be a big goal for someone else but for you it can be the beginning of a new habit and a better adaptation.
4) Get out of your comfort zone and take action. You have let fear hold you back for too long. We all have comfort zones (habits) that keep us in check or functioning at a level that reduces our anxiety. You need to push it to break through. You can learn to tolerate more and create the life you really want by taking thoughtful risks. You may want to try a new exercise, learn a new computer program or even meet a new friend.
5) Get support. Make it known to friends or family that you have decided to change a bad habit and adapt to a better one. Explain what you will be doing and how you intend to proceed. You need both the support and accountability to move ahead and reach your goal. Don’t try to do it alone or in the shadows.
6) Stay motivated. Always remember why you are making the change. When you break a bad habit you take back control of your life. Post your reasons for change on your computer, put the on Facebook, record them on a tape recorder or even draw visual representations of what you desire your outcome to look like. Stay motivated.
7) Stay with it for 30 days. If you are able to break your bad habit and replace it with something better for a period of 30 days you can congratulate yourself…you did it! That is about how long it will take to adapt to a new behavior. Once you do that you can begin to break other bad habits and adapt to an improved model of you.