How to Stop a Bad Habit: 9 Practical Tips

Are you letting your bad habits stop you from living your life to the fullest?

Do you want to get rid of your bad habits?

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Will Durant

You are basically what you do repeatedly, so you get to choose whether you want to be the best version of yourself or not.  

Let’s take a look at some effective ways to stop your bad habits:

1. Be aware of the bad habit

To break a bad habit, you first have to know that it’s a bad habit.  You have to be clear about it.  For example, you have to say to yourself, “Overeating every night is a bad habit and I have to stop doing it.”

2. Be aware of the trigger of the bad habit

“You can disrupt a behavior you don’t want by removing the prompt. This isn’t always easy, but removing the prompt is your best first move to stop a behavior from happening.” - B.J. Fogg, Tiny Habits

Your bad habit is a behavior, and almost every behavior has a trigger.  For example, you may find that you will have the tendency to overeat when you pass by a fast food restaurant after work every night.  

3. Give yourself a strong reason to stop the bad habit

Having a strong reason to break your bad habit is important.  For example, you may want to quit overeating for your children because you want to stay healthy to have more good times with them.  

4. Remove the trigger from your environment

If you know that you are going to overeat every time you pass by a fast food restaurant after work, change your route so that you don’t get to see the restaurant.  

5. Don’t let yourself get too tired mentally

As much as you may want to remove the trigger, there are times when it’s just hard to do.  In those cases, you may have to depend on your willpower.  But depending on your willpower is a dangerous thing, because willpower is limited.  What you can do is to avoid having moments when you have the lowest willpower.  For example, don’t exhaust yourself mentally at work.  Use techniques like pomodoro methods and mindfulness to keep yourself at a relatively calm state during work.  

6. Exercise regularly

Exercising regularly gives you two main benefits.  One, it allows you to feel more energized, so you are less tired mentally.  As a result, you have more willpower to fight against the temptation.  Two, it allows you to have something to do when you are not at work.  That’s very important because a lot of bad habits happen when you are not at work.  

7. Practice meditation or mindfulness

To become more calm and less reactive to the temptation, having high awareness is important.  Practicing meditation or mindfulness allows you to be more aware of what yourself is thinking and what is going on around you.  

8. Have a clear goal and see how your bad habit stops you from reaching it

By having a clear goal, you can divide your daily activities into two groups: those that help you reach your goal and those that don’t.  By knowing that stopping your bad behaviors gives you a better chance to reach your goal, you may end up having some extra motivation to stop your bad behaviors.  

9. Use the 5-second rule

Use the 5-second rule, a method discovered by author Mel Robbins.  Everytime you are aware that you are about to start doing your bad behavior, count 5-4-3-2-1 and then say “stop”.  Give it a try.  

Final Thoughts

Stopping a bad habit is about awareness, reasons, and methods.  Improve your awareness.  Find a strong reason, and figure out what’s the right method for you.  It’s going to be hard but it’s also going to be rewarding. 

If you are interested in reading a good book about breaking bad habits and developing good ones, Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg is a good choice. 

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