Old Habits become hard to break to because they are deeply wired by constant repetition into our brains, but it’s not too late to reverse your worst habits!
Of Course, breaking bad habits requires self-control, and lots of it. Research indicates that it’s worth the effort, as self-control has huge implications for success.
Here are 6 great ideas for breaking your bad habits and thinking about the process in a new way.
Master your cues
Habits have three main parts: a cue, a routine and a reward.
Cues are the context where you tend to engage in the behavior. If you’re a smoker for example, the cue might be work breaks. Knowing your triggers can help you avoid them.
Choose a substitute
Instead of trying to stop doing something start doing something else.
You need to have a plan ahead of time for how you will respond when you face the stress or boredom that prompts your bad habit. What are you going to do when you get the urge to smoke? Whatever it is and whatever you’re dealing with, you need to have a plan for what you will do instead of your bad habit.
Cut out as many triggers as possible
If you smoke when you drink, then don’t go to the bar. If the first thing you do when you sit on the couch is pick up the TV remote, then hide the remote in a closet in a different room. Make it easier on yourself to break bad habits by avoiding the things that cause them.
Change your environment and you can change the outcome
Your environment makes your bad habit easier and good habits harder. The best way to do this is to take advantage of a totally new environment. So for example like a great time to try to break a habit is during a work trip or vacation. Since your brain won’t be exposed to its typical triggers, you won’t have to fight your instincts while trying to break the habit.
Join forces with somebody
How often do you try to diet in private? Or maybe you “quit smoking” … but you kept it to yourself? (That way no one will see you fail, right?)
Surround yourself with people who live the way you want to live.
You don’t need to ditch your old friends, but don’t underestimate the power of finding some new ones.
Forming a new habit takes time and commitment, so don’t be discouraged if it takes longer than you might expect. A 2010 study published in The European Journal of Social Psychology found it took an average of 66 days for a behavior to change (though time varied from 18 to 254 days).