how to break bad habitsEvery asked yourself (or someone else!) how to break bad habits? Everyone has a few bad habits that they’d like to get rid of but it can feel pretty hard to change!

Why is it so tough to stop doing something that you know you shouldn’t do? Here are some tips on how to breakthrough your bad habits once and for all.

The Real Reasons for Your Bad Habits

First of all, really face your bad habits. All bad habits have some kind of deeper reason at their core. For example, you don’t overeat and risk major health problems just because hamburgers taste good. When you overeat, you’re compensating for something or avoiding some deeper hidden emotional pain.

Really check into your bad habit and get to the bottom of it. At what times do you feel like indulging in it? What are you afraid will happen if you stop? Be completely honest with yourself and allow your inner reasons to percolate through, even if they’re not pleasant to admit.

One at a Time

If you’re motivated to change your bad habits, you’ve probably got a list of them that you’re ready to tackle. While you can erase all of your bad habits over time, it’s not a good idea to try to do it all at once. Instead, you should prioritize them and then choose one from your list, make progress on it and then start on the next.

If you overwhelm yourself with too many changes, it’ll cause you stress and you’ll relapse.

As a general guideline, it takes about a month to change a habit. It may take a wee bit longer or it may happen sooner depending on your level of motivation and dedication, but it’s good to assume that you need a month for each.

Break Your Goal Into Steps

Quitting a bad habit is a goal and the best way to reach any goal is to break it up into sub-goals. These are smaller goals that are easier to achieve. They’re like mile markers along the way toward your major goal. Create sub-goals and give each an exact timeframe in which you’ll do them.

Once you’ve got your sub-goals worked out, break these up into action steps that you can take daily. Start at the end with your goal and sub-goals and ask yourself, ‘What steps do I need to take to get there?’ Turn these steps into actions and use action verbs. In other words, don’t call a task ‘gym’; make it ‘go to the gym.’

Stop Bad Habits in Their Tracks

A great way to stop performing a certain behavior is to recognize its triggers and replace them with something else. For example, when do you feel like having a cookie (or whatever you are addicted to)? The urge usually comes along when you’re stressed or tired. Recognize the triggers that bring on the habit and find alternative things to do when you feel them. For example, instead of reaching for a chocolate bar (…etc.), have a glass of water.

Be Loving and Supportive to Yourself

Breaking bad habits is hard and you shouldn’t make it any harder on yourself than it needs to be. You’ll have weak days where you seem to backslide into your habit. That’s completely natural. Remember that it’ll take a while and stick with it. Make sure that you’ve got plenty of rewards ready for when you finally reach your goal.