Improving Every Day: 10 Strategies for Breaking Bad Habits

With the start of the new year, many people have found the motivation to improve their lives. While some individuals may have big plans for the upcoming year, like losing significant weight or starting a multimillion-dollar company, most people take this as a time to set realistic and positive SMART goals. One of the most common New Year's resolutions is to correct bad habits like smoking, nail-biting, eating junk food, and other things of that nature. It's easy for humans to get stuck in their ways, which means that habits can be difficult to shake, but not impossible.

To successfully kick your habit, you need determination and self-control. With a positive outlook and the right tools for success, anything is possible! If you're interested in dropping that bad habit this year, allow us to share our top ten tips and tricks for getting rid of bad habits:

10 Tips to Break Your Bad Habits

  1. Self Awareness is the First Step

    The very first step in the process to change is self-awareness. Self-denial holds so many people away from their potential. To successfully drop a habit, you must be fully aware of what that habit is. For better self-understanding, ask yourself why you have this habit. When did you pick up this bad habit? Why did you pick it up? Are you afraid of quitting? If so, why? Answering these questions will allow you to understand why your habit has gotten to this point.

  2. Start Small

    Maybe you have multiple harmful habits you'd like to correct. That's fine - we all do! When you're making a significant change in your life, you might be tempted to crush all your bad habits at once. While this idea sounds great on paper, it is not the same in practice. Cutting everything off "cold-turkey" will frequently result in burning out. When you've decided to break a bad habit, you may need to rely on something else to fill the void. So if you've removed all those bad habits at once, there's nothing left to do but go back to your old ways. Do things one step at a time, and you'll find greater success.

  3. Replace Cravings

    As explained above, the loss of one bad habit might cause you to fall back on something else to fill the void. The best way to handle this is to replace your lost needs by doing something else. For example, quitting smokers will switch over to lollipops, hard candies, or even nicotine alternatives for the sensation of having something in their hands and mouth. Consider your habit, prepare a healthier or better alternative to that habit, and have it prepared beforehand, so there's a lower risk of relapse.

  4. Create a Support System

    friends hugging in publicThe best way to achieve your goals is to find support. Surround yourself with a supportive group of people who want you to achieve your goals. This support group will keep you accountable, and the social pressure will stop you from giving up easily. With good friends, anything is achievable, especially when your friends are also your accountability buddies.

  5. Avoid Triggers

    Try to steer clear from events or actions that "trigger" you to emotional distress. This distress can cause you to fall back into old habits. Environments can trigger you, and so can people if you associate either with your bad habit. As stated above, you must surround yourself with supportive people because you'll find yourself tempted to give up on self-improvement if you don't.

  6. Keep a Journal and Record Your Progress

    Journaling outsideOne of the best ways to track your improvement is to keep a habit journal. Not only is it fun and creative, but it's also a useful tool in your battle to become better. If you're not very artistic, that's perfectly fine! The internet offers tons of printable habit journal templates designed to keep you motivated.

  7. Daily Affirmations Will Keep You Motivated

    Stay motivated by practicing daily affirmations. Many apps and websites are offering unique and brand new affirmations for anyone looking for some positive motivation. Keeping yourself happy and confident is essential to squashing bad habits.

  8. Use a Reward/Punishment System

    relaxing rewarding bubble bathA great way to drop a habit is to create a reward/punishment system. Set goals for yourself and reward yourself when you accomplish them. By doing this, you'll also punish yourself when you don't reach your goals. When we say "punish yourself," we don't mean to cause yourself physical or mental pain or discomfort. We mean that you deny yourself the rewards for success. For example, if you're quitting smoking, you can make a goal to go a week without smoking. If you accomplish it, you can reward yourself with a luxurious bubble bath. If you don't accomplish it, no bubble baths for you!

  9. Don't Beat Yourself Up After a Slip-Up

    Humans aren't perfect, and we make mistakes. That's fine! Too many people slip up, beat themselves up for it, and then completely give up on their self-improvement goals. If you ever slip up in the journey to kick a habit, don't beat yourself up for it. Just get back up and continue down the path. Growth isn't always linear!

  10. Try New Things

    The best way to get rid of those bad habits is to fill your time with something else. You can fill your hands, your time, and your mind by picking a few new activities. Join a club, take a class, pick up a hobby, and meet new people. Out with the old habits, in with the new.

Kicking bad habits becomes easier with the right tools. To successfully break that pesky habit, you must be flexible. Experiment with many new things and keep trying when things don't work out as intended. With the ten valuable tips listed above, you'll be able to break bad habits in the new year.

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