Everyone has a bank of bad habits, and every withdrawal comes with a cost. Mindlessly eat potato chips every night before going to bed? You’ll pay the price in weight gain. Drink a bit too much every weekend? Those empty calories really add up.
Yes, bad habits can bankrupt your attempt to reach your goals—unless you break them.
Here’s a five-step plan to help you break your bad habits once and for all:
You know the habit is bad. You know you would like to change your behavior. But you can’t change anything until you make up your mind (really, really make up your mind) to commit to a new way of doing things.
Once you’ve committed to changing, you need a plan. You need to figure out why the bad habit happens—and then figure out ways to interfere with it. This means always being aware of the habit (many are mindless), recognizing when you’re about to do it and then doing things to stop you from doing it—reaching for vegetables instead of potato chips, leaving the room, going for a walk, etc.
Write about it
Keeping a log about how the bad habit affects your life can help you change. Write down what you’re doing before, during and after the habit kicks in. Over time, you will recognize patterns, triggers and even moods that lead to the habit. Recognizing them allows you to interfere with them in the future.
Replace the bad habit
One way to get rid of a bad habit is to replace it with a good one. Instead of snacking at night, read something. Rather than chewing your fingernails, floss your teeth. Pretty soon you’ll be well-read with a great smile.
The power of positive reinforcement is well-documented—so reward yourself when you do something well. Perhaps you could deposit a few dollars into an actual bank account every time you reach a goal? That way, you’ll be bankrupting your bank of bad habits and building up your bottom line.