While we all know that bad habits are undesirable, it’s easy to overlook the full extent of the damage that they can cause. Part of what makes a bad habit so detrimental, though, is its cumulative effect. Something that’s done repeatedly, over time, can have major implications.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
Take, for instance, buying an afternoon frappe or pastry. It may seem harmless enough, but over the course of a month, it can add up considerably—both in terms of cost and sugar content. Problems arise when habits start hindering us from reaching our goals. For example, instead of being able to save for that dream vacation, you’ll find that your spare cash went to afternoon treats. Or, instead of having the energy to get through the day, you’ll have a sugar crash and slump in the afternoon. The challenge, then, is being on the lookout for bad habits that could be impacting your quality of life—even more than you might initially think. It’s important to be diligent about weeding bad habits out in order to live your best life possible.
With this in mind, here’s a look at a few ways that you can pinpoint bad habits and make an effort to successfully eliminate them from your life.
What is a Bad Habit?
We all know what bad habits look like. Sometimes, they’re obvious things like eating junk food or neglecting to exercise. For others, though, bad habits may be things that in and of themselves are good things, but have gotten a bit out of control. For instance, working is a good habit—but not working to the point where it starts to cause problems with your relationships or health.
No matter what the bad habit in question is though, they all have something in common. Bad habits are, most often, formed as a response to either stress or boredom. Think about bad habits for a minute. Things such as nail biting, excessive shopping sprees, or spending too much time online can all be contributed to these two things.
If you’re struggling to determine whether or not a habit is bad, you can ask yourself three simple questions:
- Is it keeping me from achieving my goals?
- Do I feel guilty after?
- Does it impact me negatively?
If your answer is yes, then chances are it’s a bad habit that needs to be curbed.
So how do you eliminate bad habits? Let’s take a look at how you can get rid of habits that may be holding you back.
If you want to get rid of a habit, your best option isn’t to try really hard to stop doing it. Instead, you should work to replace it. Replacing an unwanted habit with something that’s more positive is a better way to get rid of a habit—allowing you to effectively eliminate it for good.
Establish a New Habit
It’s important to take the time to identify a healthy or positive alternative to the bad habit you’re trying to overcome. Think about how you want to feel after you make this change and where you want to be a year from now. Choose something realistic that you can enjoy doing, and then find a way to commit to it.
Having a buddy system can give you some accountability, which can help keep you on track. Having someone to talk to who is supportive of your goals can prove to be invaluable support when it comes to getting rid of old habits.
Surround Yourself With Success
It’s vital to surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. This doesn’t mean that you have to cut all of your current friends out of your life, but don’t underestimate the importance of spending time with those who are going in quite the opposite direction of those habits you’d like to break. And even better if they’re passionate about the types of habits that you’re hoping to establish!
Set Yourself Up for Success
Beating old habits can be tricky, so make it easier! Cut out potential triggers that could cause you to slide back into your old ways. If you’re looking to stop eating foods that you know aren’t good for you, keep junk food out of the house. If you want to put an end to working late every night so that you can exercise, prepay for your workout session so that you’re committed and won’t be tempted to skip out on it.
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Finally, when trying to break old habits, it’s important to be kind to yourself. If you get off course, don’t dwell on it, and never beat yourself up. As Steve Kamb from Nerd Fitness says, “When you screw up, skip a workout, eat bad foods, or sleep in, it doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you human. Welcome to the club.”
At some point or another, everyone will make mistakes—but what separates those who are able to achieve their goals, from those who aren’t, is often their resilience and ability to get back on track quickly. Resolve to start again, and get back on course. With diligence and the right motivation you will soon be able to beat your old habits and establish new, better ones in their place.