Imagine how complex your day would be without habits?
We’d have to consciously think about every little thing we did and keep constant focus on every single task.
Your brain would implode. Well, it wouldn’t, but we’d be mentally exhausted.
The purpose of habits is to assists us in our daily lives. Hence the benefits of habits are to simplify our lives by putting in routine regularly repeated actions on a kind of autopilot.
We don’t need to think or put any explicit attention towards performing these tasks. It’s genius, really. It makes performing our day-to-day actions far more manageable.
Habits are in our lives for a reason, and in some way have many benefits or trade-offs.
They can be emotional, like staying in a bad relationship for security, avoiding completing a report by watching TV, or procrastinating on social media; or you might deal with stress by smoking or chewing your fingernails.
Any habit that negatively affects your life and prevents you from achieving your goals is bad and needs to be replaced with good ones.
Breaking a bad habit starts with awareness. That’s the first step. It’s easy to become caught up in how you feel about your bad habits.
Our bad habits have a knack for making us feel incredibly guilty, so let’s leverage that and move on from wishing we could change things to focussing on what’s going on in the present, the here and now.
Awareness will show you how to make change.
Try answering these questions:
- Which habits are helping me to realise my dream life?
- Which habits are stopping me from fulfilling my dream life?
- Which habits do I need to adopt to work towards creating my dream life?
- Is there a bad habit that’s keeping me stuck in a rut?
Let’s look a bit deeper at it. Let’s break it together!
As an example, let’s use my bad habit of eating little cupcakes after dinner with a cup of tea (I need to deal with this because I went up a pants size over winter).
Firstly, to find out your triggers or cravings, you will need to ask yourself these questions:
• Does my bad habit occur at a specific time?
• Is my habit a regular thing?
• Am I in a similar place each time?
• Am I with somebody or alone?
• What emotions do I feel?
• Can I analyse my behaviours to see if they act as a trigger?
My little cupcake habit occurs around 9 pm. I’m getting tired, but not ready for bed, and I want something to keep me awake.
Next, look at the reward you received for your habit.
Ask what it is your craving????
In my case, is it sugar I am craving or just feeling bored?
Now experiment with your habit.
For my habit, I replaced cupcakes with fruit. Another time, I went for a walk and also tried going on the laptop.
On all three occasions, I wasn’t craving any form of sugar. I then tried doing some yoga in front of the TV, but what really worked was the internet.
So using the internet became my new routine.
Whilst I didn’t have the sharpest brain at 9 pm to write blogs or emails, I was able to use that time to schedule posts on Buffer (www.buffer. com/), read blogs, or create a few posts for Facebook on Canva (www.canva.com/).
Sure enough, I stopped grabbing little cupcakes or any sweet dessert.
So look at your craving or trigger because by understanding what the habit is satisfying – i.e. whether it’s emotional, physiological, or mental – you can start tracking these issues to make yourself more aware of your behaviour and get dozens of ideas to stop it.
Listed below are five keys to help you bust through any bad habits.
1. Examine Your Motivation
Firstly, make the change for yourself. This way you will be motivated. What’s the cost of not changing and keeping this habit? Understand the cue or trigger. Why do you keep this habit? A bit of self-enquiry is needed here. Is it thirst, boredom, stress release, social, etc?
2. Reward Yourself
Teresa gave herself a two to ten-minute reward between tasks she didn’t like. My reward is thirty minutes at lunchtime of watching comedy clips on YouTube in between seeing clients and writing.
3. Identify Success Saboteurs
Family, friends or you yourself can create barriers to success either consciously or subconsciously.
4. Find an Accountability Buddy
Tell a friend that you are giving up or changing something and seek their support when you feel the urge to quit. Sometimes seeking the support of a life coach can help you stay focussed and drive you to succeed.
5. Celebrate Your Wins
Rarely do we stop and look back at how far we’ve come. Do a little inner cartwheel. No matter how small the accomplishment. You’ve taken the first step towards a positive change in your life. Tune into yourself and start an honest dialogue with yourself.
I assure you any bad habit can be broken, but it takes more than just effort; it takes perseverance. If failure is the key to success then successfully breaking a habit could mean a number of attempts and failings.
So don’t lose heart.
You’ll find a whole chapter on breaking bad habits in my award-winning book, Stuck in a Rut: How to rescue yourself & live your truth.
Fiona Craig is an NLP practitioner & life coach, psychotherapist, business mentor, and published author of the award winning self-help book, “Stuck in a Rut – How to rescue yourself & live your truth” helping women remove the fear, worry and guilt to confidently take the steps towards creating the life they want to live.
Fiona has been interviewed by The Australian Women’s Weekly, Women’s Fitness Magazine and The New Daily and written articles for Collective Magazine, Herald Sun Melbourne, Sunday Life Magazine, Career One, I Am Woman Magazine, plus Mouths Of Mums and other online publications. You can learn more about working with Fiona at www.lifebalancecoach.com.au or call 0405 433 217.