We all have bad habits; it’s a fact of life because we’re human and imperfect. The good news is that bad habits can be changed with some discipline and work. Changing bad habits doesn’t happen overnight but simply acknowledging the bad behavior is the first step toward change.
Here are some tips for changing bad habits into good habits:
1. Keep the temptation out of sight. If you have a problem with overeating junk food, for example, keep those tempting foods out of your home. Avoid those particular aisles at the grocery store. Step away from the snack table when you’re a guest at someone’s house. If your temptation isn’t visible, then you’ll get used to not having that temptation in your life, which in itself forms a good habit of not overindulging.
2. Reward yourself. If you want to stop biting your nails, schedule a manicure or a day at the spa after 6-8 weeks as a reward, provided you stayed true and avoided biting those nails. Now use this reward as a way to keep your bare nails (temptation) out of sight thereby eliminating the biting behavior altogether. Also consider rewarding yourself for incorporating a good habit into your life as well and choose small, simple rewards that fit your budget.
3. Give yourself a consequence for the bad habit. If you have a habit of swearing like a sailor, try charging yourself a fee for every swear word that comes out of your mouth. Collect that money in a jar or bank and when you haven’t contributed to it in a month’s time, take that money and give yourself a reward. Tell your friends and family, too, so they can help keep you accountable. Sometimes we’re so used to doing bad habits that we don’t even notice when it happens. Giving yourself a consequence forces you to be more aware of your behavior and eventually eliminates that bad behavior.
4. Track your daily habits. Whether you choose good old paper and pen or a sophisticated app on your phone, tracking your habits puts them in the forefront of your mind and you’ll also feel accomplished at the end of the week. For instance, if you’re exercising daily, mark down what you did and for how long. If you’re stopping your procrastination, mark what time you started work. If you’re unplugging more, use a paper calendar to write down when you turned your phone or computer off and how long that lasted. Visual cues that you’re succeeding in busting these bad habits can go a long way to make you feel proud and accomplished, which will positively reinforce this new behavior.
5. Ask for an accountability partner. Do you have a personal trainer or friend who enjoys fitness who can help monitor your success? Do you have a nutritionist who can help create healthy meals? Do you have a business partner or friend who you help turn your business struggles around? Or do you feel comfortable posting certain struggles or challenges on social media so your followers then become your accountability partners? Keeping your struggles and goals to yourself often makes it easier to cheat; however, if you tell other people what you’re trying to accomplish, then you’ll focus more on the new behavior, which eventually will overtake the bad behavior.
One quick tip: Don’t try to change multiple bad habits at once. Choose one behavior to focus on and work on that first. When you feel that bad habit has been changed for good, work on changing another bad habit – or work on incorporating good habits into your daily life.