Do you do something you probably shouldn't be doing? We all have habits we aren't proud of. Whether it's nail biting, smoking, or terrible eating...it can be hard to know where to start as it relates to ending this habit.
The first step to getting rid of a bad habit is to want to get rid of it. You have to want to ditch your bad habit with every fiber of your being. If there’s some small part of you that wants to hang on to your bad habit, even unconsciously, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure.
When you change the way you think about it, and want it first, everything else will become a little easier. This step will involve your favorite list-taking tools. Start at the top of the list with the highest-priority habits. Organize your bad habits in whatever way feels right to you, but your highest-priority habit should be at the top of the list. This will give you some clarity and permission to tackle them one at a time. When you’re working on ditching a bad habit, it’s tempting to keep all that hard work to yourself.
Before you get started, tell someone you’re planning to ditch a bad habit. It helps keep you accountable, especially if you can find someone who will hold you to your plans and a gentle push (or more, if that's your thing) if you fall off the wagon.
If you can’t find an in-person friend to keep you accountable, try looking for an online accountability buddy. You don’t have the benefit of face-to-face conversations, but it enables you to find someone to keep you accountable without worrying about judgment from friends and family.
Turn all your talk into action. Throw away your cigarettes, make it day one of your healthy eating plan, or get a manicure so you can stop biting your nails.
There are two ways to go about this—either go all-in at the beginning, or break your goals down into smaller steps. Going all-in can be useful if you’re worried about taking baby steps—stop your bad habit cold turkey and shake it off. The problem with that, though, is that you put yourself at risk for burnout. If you are worried about burning out, take smaller steps instead. Break your goals down into manageable portions.
After doing all that, here is the most important step: Plan for failure, and know yourself. This will be your mantra for breaking bad habits. This is not an easy thing, so it’s important to plan for failure and have a plan to pick yourself up and recover after you’ve failed. Understanding what sets you off and how you cope gives you so much information. In turn, that awareness will help you change your habits.
We all know that getting rid of bad habits is difficult at even the best of times. One good and scientifically proven technique for making it a little bit easier is to replace the behaviors associated with your bad habits with good, mindful ones.
Now you have all the tools you need to help you break all those bad habits that have been lurking in your New Year’s resolutions for who knows how long. Just work your way through the steps one by one and make sure you remember the last step—don’t give up!