5 STRATEGIES ON HOW TO CHANGE BAD HABITS INTO GOOD ONES
“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effect of your habits multiply as you repeat them”—James Clear
Habits are simply those things we do unconsciously. That is to say, we do them without first necessarily thinking them through, they’ve become more or less like second nature to us.
And you know what, this can really be a good thing if they are good habits. However, the bad ones tend to create more adverse effects on our being and lifestyles.
Successful people are where they are today, not because they have some sort of special abilities or talents, rather, the good habits they cultivated helped them to live out a successful life.
Just so you know, habits don’t just develop overnight—be it good or bad. It actually takes time, energy, willpower and discipline before it can become automated in your life. And the good ones tend to require more of these factors.
Just as James Clear says in his book Atomic Habits, “Habits are like atoms of our lives. Each one is a fundamental unit that contributes to your overall improvement”.
BAD HABITS OVERSHADOWS GOOD HABITS
Now it’s strange how good habits seem so much difficult to cultivate, while the bad and unhealthy habits seem to be the ones that dominate our lives?
Bad habits seem to always be the one that wants to stick to us and become “friends” with us, whereas in the real sense, it’s the enemy.
“Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy”—James Clear
Now I know you’ve tried as several means as possible in order to change your bad habits to good ones, but all to no avail. Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this, every one of us has, including me.
But somehow I learnt how to turn the tides of my bad habits into good ones. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t have any bad habits still, trust me I still very much do, however they are not as numerous as they use they use to be.
So in essence, learning how to turn bad into good habits is what you should learn not just to completely wipe out all your bad habits, but to drastically reduce the numbers, you get?
If you want to know how to change this, I’ll be highlighting 5 strategies that you can apply in order to help you change your bad habits, and not to worry, they’re totally practical steps that you can easily identify with and apply if you’re willing to change.
“The most practical way to change who you are is to change what you do”—James Clear
Now before we begin to look at those strategies, here’s a little advice: don’t get discouraged when you begin to apply these strategies and don’t seem to see any visible change. All you’ve to do is to stick to it a little longer and you’ll see yourself getting results.
Having said that, here are the 5 strategies
HOW TO CHANGE BAD HABITS INTO GOOD ONES
BE AWARE THAT IT’S BAD
The first thing you’ve to know about changing habits is to first realize that the habit itself is a bad one and once that realization and awareness sets in, everything else that follows will surely fall into place.
It may surprise you to know that most bad habits that have been cultivated over time started out from unconsciousness, oh yes, you heard it quite right.
Ok now, you want to change your bad habits to good ones, do you really know how much unconsciousness has arisen from those bad habits of yours, that most of the time you don’t even realize that you’re doing it?
It may be binge-eating, talking too much, sleeping too much or even snoozing your wake-up time alarm button. Personally, I use to have the habit of sleeping too much, especially during the day. And I remember when I was complaining about not having enough time to do things, whereas I failed to realize that I was really sleeping too much and that made me have less time to do stuff that is productive.
Eventually, I got fed up with nagging and began to read about habits, and I found out that this whole time I was really not aware that sleeping too much was a bad habit that I’ve cultivated and that it needed to stop.
So the first thing you’ve to do is to be conscious of those bad habits and believe me, changing it won’t be a problem.
TAKE “THEM’’ DOWN ONE AT A TIME
You know, we as humans, there’s really one behaviour we pull when it comes to changing our bad habits. To think that we can effectually take down all our bad habits at once is totally absurd. There is no how such ridiculousness can be possible because we were built not to be multi-dimensional or multi-focused.
I know there are a lot of bad habits that you do and that you would like to change. However, don’t think that you can do it all at a stretch. Trust me, if you try to, you might even be adding more bad habits to the ones that are already on ground, and I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want that to happen to you, do you? Good, so don’t.
This is what you should do instead: write down all your bad habits, and in doing this you’ve to be brutally honest with yourself. You know yourself, so you know those habits that ain’t good for you. After that, check out for the least of all of them. Look for the one that you sure is bad but somehow appears harmless. It being harmless doesn’t mean it isn’t causing any harm, you just haven’t noticed the harm yet.
Then take that one out and focus on changing it bit by bit. It might be waking up 5mim later than your normal time or even eating an extra bowl of meal when you know you’re already overweight. Whatever it is, just focus your mind and thoughts on that one habit and be conscious of every decision you make regarding it. Then develop the mindset that you’re going to change it no matter how bad you may want to go back to it.
HAVE A SPECIFIC PLAN
“People who make a specific plan for when and where they will perform a new habit are more likely to follow through”—James Clear
Now in changing from a bad habit, it is important for you to know that going through without having a specific plan as to how you want to change it, will be a total failure. It’ll definitely fall through, trust me, because it’s more like you’re heading down a road you’re not familiar with, without a map or a guide—at least, to help you.
If you really want to change from a bad habit, then it would be better if you state out—I mean literally write down, the exact good habit you plan on changing into. Write out where, when, and how you plan on executing this new “good” habit of yours so that you don’t falter unnecessarily.
Don’t just say, “I’ll stop snoozing the alarm button and heading back to bed afterwards”, or “I’ll no longer binge-eat so that I don’t become overweight over time”. Just saying it into the air alone won’t bring it to reality, because just as James Clear says, “Bad habits are autocatalytic: the process feeds itself. They foster the feeling they try to numb”.
In essence, bad habits are difficult to change. You cannot just quit one overnight by just saying that you won’t do it again. You’ve got to layout specific and definite plans that you’ll discipline yourself to follow through with no matter what happens. So planning matters—a lot.
MAKE USE OF HABIT TRACKERS
“Habit trackers and other visual forms of measurements can make your habits satisfying by providing clear evidence of your progress”—James Clear
Changing from a bad habit to a good one also involves you tracking down your progress, as well as your regress. Habit trackers make it easier for you to see how far you’ve gone in forming this new habit of yours, or how slow you’re from making the habit a habit.
Outside having a specific plan on how to change from a bad habit, take advantage of habit trackers when you eventually begin the execution of the new habit, you’ll be glad you did, trust me.
For me personally, when I’m forming a new habit and I’m not tracking it, it feels as if I am not really doing anything—it feels so vague, drabbish and boring. If you’ve used a habit tracker before, then you really know what I mean. There is this inner sense of fulfilment and achievement that occurs whenever you tick off a day’s task as done.
The happiness you feel from tracking a habit is quite different from the one you feel from doing the habit itself. There are a lot of habit trackers apps you can try out, or better still, you can draft out one that suits your preferences. Whatever works for you, just make sure to give it a try.
SET A REWARD SYSTEM
“Rewards are the end goal of every habit… we chase rewards because they satisfy us and they teach us”—James Clear
Rewards are actually one of the ways of sticking to newly formed habits. Just as Clear says in his book Atomic Habits, “…they satisfy us”. Rewarding yourself even in the teeniest way on getting the task done kind of boost your enthusiasm and confidence.
If you observe closely, you’ll see that those bad habits you can’t seem to cut back are really more satisfying than the good one counterpart, that is why it is so difficult to stop such habits.
Set a reward system that you’ll enjoy after performing that newly formed habit for that day. You’ll see that you’ll always look forward to doing such a habit every day, rather than dreading the dawn of another day because you have to do another un-enjoyable and tedious habit.
One other thing you should know about rewards is that in setting them, don’t form any bad habit with the kind of reward you set up. Say, for instance, rewarding yourself to chat on social media for an hour because you read a book for 20minutes is highly unproductive. Or rewarding yourself to eat a lot of food because you reduced the amount of food you eat.
In the end, you’ll be forming another bad habit and not necessarily a reward system. So always make sure the reward align with the newly formed habit, yet you should still be able to derive total satisfaction from it.
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