Now you’re probably in one of two camps right now: you’re either in complete denial. Like I have no bad habits, what are you talking about? Or you’re super critical and you can think of like 10 habits you need to break. Whichever camp you’re in, I want to help you assess your habits and then zone in on any habits that you wish to change and walk you through my five-step system to break these bad habits.
If you’re having a hard time finding a bad habit, maybe just ask your closest friend, family member or your spouse, and I’m sure that they can help you pinpoint just one area that you can work on. Now I want you to choose one habit to focus on, that is going to have the biggest impact and the biggest change in your life.
Step # 1: Identifying and Assessing Your Habits
If you’re anything like me, I can think of probably eight to 10 really bad habits off the top of my head that I need to work on. Now if nothing comes to mind and you’re still kind of drawing a blank, here’s just a few examples: swearing, drinking, overeating, under-eating, consuming too much Netflix or too much social media. These are just a few examples of some bad habits that you might want to consider breaking.
I also want you to keep in mind, as you’re thinking about these bad habits, are they truly just a bad habit or are they an addiction? If this bad habit is something that you use as a coping mechanism, if this bad habit is something that you try to hide from other people, that could be a sign of an addiction. If you are concerned that you have an addiction, seek help and talk about it with a professional.
So now that you have assessed your habits, ask yourself what triggers your bad habit. If you can find out what triggers your bad habit and what sets you off, it’s much easier for you to start to pivot and make better choices.
Write down those habits and those triggers, anytime that you feel like you want to do that thing and make a plan. When we start to identify our triggers and we start to realize why we’re turning to this bad habit, then it’s so much easier for us to replace those bad habits.
Step # 2: Get an Accountability Partner
I want you to enlist someone, who’s going to check in on you and hold you accountable. And this person has to obviously be someone who cares enough about you, but they’re not afraid to hurt your feelings. Sometimes we need tough love and we need people who are going to give it to us straight and not sugar coat it. Be strategic about the accountability partner that you choose. A great example of someone who could hold you accountable would be a trusted friend.
Another way of holding yourself accountable is having a visual representation of the bad habit you’re trying to break. Krista Moreland talked about having a visual representation of saying no to something. For me, I use a clear plastic cup and pennies and I reward myself when the cup is filled. That’s just a really great reminder for you to visually see that you have self-discipline and are stronger than this bad habit. So that’s just a really tangible example of a way that you could visually see your progress.
Step # 4: Replacing Bad Habits with Better Habits
I have a friend who shared with me that she struggles with swearing. She’s always had a problem with it, and she grew up with parents that swore a lot and so it just comes really natural to her to say those words. But she has found that her children are calling her out on it and it’s something that she wants to put a stop to. I’m super proud of her for even realizing that it was a problem and wanting to make a change.
There’s this saying that I love, neurons that fire together wire together”, and what it means is that our brains will connect experiences with feelings and thoughts with words. And so, if you grew up around family who swore all the time, when you get frustrated your brain naturally goes to that word, because that is how your brain is wired.
You can retrain what happens in those neural pathways, through neuroplasticity. And one of the things that you can do, is just replace a phrase with something else. This same concept would work for any bad habit.
Step # 5: Be Consistent
If we want a bad habit to change, you have to try long enough to retrain your brain to that new habit. Change is not going to happen overnight, and you’ve probably heard the phrase that it takes 21 days to form a habit and it takes like 20 minutes to break one.
You want to make sure that you’re staying consistent. If you want to replace a bad habit with a good one, it’s going to take time. Start with those subtle shifts and then work your way up. But be okay with the fact that it’s not going to change instantly. You did not form that bad habit instantly, that was something that probably over time, it turned into a bad habit and maybe a worst habit. And so just praise the progress, not the perfection.
So just to recap, the five-step system:
- Assess your habit and make sure that this habit is not an addiction but simply a bad habit. Figure out the triggers and journal it so that you are aware of when it’s happening and how you can prevent it.
- Get an accountability partner and ask them to check in on you. Give them a real timeframe and a clear tangible expectation.
- Don’t surround yourself with temptations
- Replace bad habits with better habits
- Be consistent
So, I hope that you take everything that you just learned and apply it, work through this system with the bad habit that you feel is going to have the biggest impact on your life and change your life for the better. Start there and then once you feel like you have a handle on this habit, move on to the next one and go through this same system again, until you feel like you finally have a handle on these bad habits. Assess yourself on a regular basis, because these unhealthy habits are sneaky, and can creep up on us when we don’t even realize it. So be diligent, stay consistent.
As always mama, I am here rooting for you and you are not alone on this journey.
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