Find more stories to help you achieve awesome status in our self-improvement guide! We’ll be adding more tips, tricks, guides and more throughout September, so be sure to check back as the month progresses for even more ways to be a better you.
Habits are hard to break, whether it’s something we do subconsciously like twirling our hair; something that’s become ingrained in our routine like soda with lunch; or something we can’t stop no matter how much we want to, like smoking cigarettes.
But habits can be broken, and in honor of self-improvement month, we’ve created a guide on how to break bad habits. It may not happen overnight, but with time all bad habits, big and small, can become a distant memory.
Speaking of bad habits, if caffeine is one you’re feeling the urge to kick to the curb, check out our tips for how to stop drinking soda and coffee!
1. Become aware
Habits weave their way into our daily life to the point where we don’t even think about them anymore. They’re part of us.
Break the cycle by becoming hyper-aware of your bad habits. Keep a log of when you do it, where you are, and what your mood was like. Jot it down in a note app on your phone or in a purse-sized journal.
2. Know your triggers
As you journal, become aware of what triggers the habits. Do you tend to spend more time on social media when work is slow? Are your shopping sprees after arguments with your boss? Do you eat chocolate when you’re on deadline at work? Identify your triggers and you’ll better be able to see the bad habit coming and stop it in its track.
3. Find something positive to replace the habit
Now that you see the habit coming, you can hopefully avert it. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, find a new good habit you can do to replace it.
Do you spend every free moment scrolling through your smart phone? Start keeping a book in your purse so you have an alternative when you’re in the waiting room or on your lunch break.
4. Make it a finable offense
We’ve all heard of the “swear jar,” but fines don’t need to be limited to foul language. Put $1 in the pot every time you commit your bad habit. If you don’t have a kid to be the lucky recipient of your stash, then you can give it to charity.
5. Start small
Start with attainable goals and build from there. Success is motivating, so when you reach your goals you’re likely to want to push harder and do better.
If you love shopping, it’s going to be really hard to go cold turkey. Take a look at what you’re spending on clothes each month and try to cut it in half at first.
6. Set yourself up for success
Take control of your surroundings and get rid of temptation. It’s going to be a whole lot harder to give up potato chips if you have a whole pantry stocked full of them. Clean out your pantry of the offending item and replace it with healthy, alternative snacks.
7. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals
It’s a lot easier to give up a habit when others around you are in support. If you’re trying to watch less TV, ask your family to get on board with more game nights or evening walks. If you can’t find the support from existing friends and family, consider joining a support group or participating in an online forum.
8. Reward yourself the right way
Cheat days don’t work for everyone. For some, it could be the trigger that sends them back to their old ways. Don’t reward a whole week of no fast food with a giant burger and fries. Find another way to reward yourself, like a relaxing bubble bath or a new haircut.
9. Accept missteps and move on
Despite our best efforts, there will be slip-ups along the way. Learn to forgive yourself. Don’t throw in the towel because of a few mistakes. Learn from it, journal about it, and get back on track with more fight than before.