We all have habits; both good, and bad.
It’s part of who we are. And, they can help us get through our day-to-day lives so mindlessly; because we are performing habitual acts without even noticing.
For instance, when our minds go on “autopilot” on our drive to work, school, the shopping center, etc. When you drive somewhere enough, you don’t even have to consciously think about where you are going, or how to go there- you just get there.
Then, there are other forms of habitual acts… maybe, less desirable ones…
Some of the “less-desirables” can be: nail biting, lip biting, hair chewing, emotional eating, smoking, and the list goes on.
But what can we do when we want to change these habits? The first step, is to recognize that we are partaking in this habitual act, and then the next step, is to WANT to change it.
One of the hardest parts of breaking a habit, is to also stop making up excuses for why you do it. Whether it’s to calm you down, pick you up, distract you from other things going on, or just a plain and simple “force of habit”, you are ultimately in control of your own behaviors. And, now, it’s time to change those undesirable ones.
But, what does this process look like?
I was able to find an article written by Szymon Pelechowicz laying out the process of breaking bad habits. Below, I will include an excerpt from his article, but please feel free to read his full article by clicking here :
1. Become aware of the status quo.
…Your first mistake is setting a goal without becoming fully aware of your current situation.
You have to define the problem before you can even contemplate a solution.
Instead of jumping straight to change, start by noticing what is going on now. Do this for a week.
Some questions you can answer during your observation include:
- What is your bad habit?
- How do you feel when you’re engaging in your bad habit?
- How do you feel when you’re not doing it?
- Do you typically do anything before or after the bad habit?
- Is there a behavior or emotion that brings on the bad habit?
- Why do you want to break this habit?
2. Use visualization.
Many people never achieve their goals because they don’t have a clear picture of what they’ll do when they succeed.
Instead of just setting a verbal goal, feel the outcome with every part of your being. Visualize what your life will be like when you break the habit. What will your daily routine look like? Will there be different people in your life once the habit is broken?
3. Recognize when you’re making excuses.
The most common excuses in the book? “I can’t” or “I don’t want to.”
What you really mean is, “I don’t do that now, so it seems too hard to change.”
Change is hard, especially when you haven’t yet been rewarded. Change means work.
This takes us back to steps 1 and 2. If you are aware of what you’re doing and what’s not working, you can get a better sense of what will work.
4. Be consistent.
Although it may not be realistic to do something every day for the rest of your life, it helps to set it up this way while you’re breaking a habit.
Make the change small enough that you can do it every single day. Although researchers say that the length of time necessary to change a habit differs from person to person, it averages from twenty-one to sixty-six days.
5. Have a plan.
Just like you can’t reach your destination if you don’t know what it is, you’ll have more trouble if you don’t have a map to show you how to get there.
If you can’t find a program that’s already out there to help you break your bad habit, make your own plan. Write it down.
When you leave room for guessing or experimentation, you’re less likely to succeed.
When you’re creating a plan, if you set guidelines for what happens when you cheat, want to take a break, or fall off the wagon, you won’t have to speculate about how you’ll get back on the path to your goals. A plan can help you kick start the healthy habit when you’ve gotten off track.
…When you’re breaking a bad habit, remember not to see every step away from the plan as a failure. The way we learn is by making mistakes.
Like what you’ve read so far? Read Szymon’s full article titled, How to Break the Bad Habits That Hold You Back in Life
Are you struggling with breaking a habit, creating personal goals, or are you just interested in talking to someone about things going on in your life because you simply feel that you do not as you should? Sometimes having a partner in your journey can help. Give us a call to set up a free phone consultation at Life Skills Resource Group Orlando at 407-355-7378, and one of our Orlando Individual Counselors, Orlando Life Coaches, Orlando Teen Counselors, and Orlando Child counselors would be more than happy to help you, a family member, or a friend work on changing your life.