Why We Aren’t Changing Pesky Habits (Even When We Say We Want To)
Do you have a ‘bad habit’ you just can’t break?
Changing what we deem as ‘bad habits’ is notoriously difficult for some people. Unfortunately, there’s no quick-fix solution or remedy you can adopt to help change a pesky habit instantly. However, there are some things you can do differently to help stop a habit.
Understanding why it’s so difficult to change a bad habit is important. This requires some self-awareness to help you recognize the reasons why you’re stuck with your pesky habits, and how you can change them.
You’re too dependent on the habit
I have a short story I want to share with you and it’s about my favorite grandmother. What an incredible lady she was but she did have what many would view as a ‘bad habit.’ She was a social smoker. In her defence, she tried (numerous times) to quit, but she could never break the habit until she recognized why she smoked in the first place.
Here’s what she said to me about her struggle to quit smoking:
“I’m having the hardest time quitting because after dinner when I pour my coffee, I’m used to lighting up a cigarette…I had to replace that with something else. Otherwise, I was looking for the cigarette and I felt empty without it.”
My grandmother kept smoking because she was so used to it that she felt incomplete without a cigarette in her hand.
When you have a habit, you can become so connected to it that you can’t separate yourself from it. You haven’t replaced it with something new and so, you just keep doing it.
Replacing a bad habit with a good habit
You might spend too much time on social media or watching TV and it’s a habit you want to cut back on. This becomes easier when you’ve replaced your plan A (the bad habit) with plan B (the new habit).
If you don’t have a plan B in place, you’ll always revert back to plan A. It’s like having a game of tug of war with yourself and to save yourself the hassle of finding something new to do on the spot, it’s easier to just go back to what you’re already comfortable with.
Without a plan B, it’s much harder to resist the temptation to watch another episode of a show on Netflix, or eat another biscuit, or spend another hour scrolling through your Instagram feed. You’ve got to have a plan in place so that when you’re faced with the temptation to revert back to your bad habit, you’ve got something else to focus your attention on.
For example, instead of scrolling through Instagram, maybe you’ll go out for a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Or, rather than eat another Chinese take-out, you put on your chef’s hat and whip up a tasty (and healthy) meal for yourself.
My grandmother eventually gave up smoking and she did it by replacing the cigarette she used to have after dinner with a game of cards and/or dominoes with my grandfather. So, every night after dinner, instead of lighting up a cigarette, she would shuffle a pack of cards and spend quality time with her husband. Eventually, she stopped craving cigarettes. She broke the habit.
The things that get in the way of you and your BEST YOU are probably bad habits. You’ve likely tried to break these habits in the past but for whatever reason, you couldn’t. However, if you keep reverting back to those bad habits, you have to actively replace them with something else. A new habit – a plan B.
How to break a bad habit
So, if you should break a bad habit with a good habit, how can you decide what the new habit should be?
I suggest going for something that moves you closer to your goals. Whether you want to lose weight, gain weight, earn more money, work on your relationships, save for a new house or start a business, your new habit should help bring you closer to achieving your goals.
A lot of the time, we don’t even realize we have bad habits. They’re more like unconscious habits that we automatically do without much thought. So, you really need to get purposeful about this.
Think hard about your habits and which ones you want to change. Then, think of what you can do instead. Hold yourself accountable or better yet, invite a friend to join you with a challenge for you both to give up your bad habits. Having a friend go through this change with you will help motivate you to keep going. Plus, you can hold each other accountable along the way.
Breaking a bad habit is about implementing small changes that have a huge impact. Small changes and steps towards your goal are what is going to help you grow your business, lose weight, get out of debt, change your relationship and most importantly, change your life.
You can watch the video related to this podcast episode and blog post below: