6 Actionable Steps To Replace A Bad Habit With A Good One
Recently we shared a very important fact regarding habits: It is very difficult to break a bad one. We had shared how habits actually form and the how we become psychologically dependent on them. We went through the origins of the process of habit formation, and how habits makes us feel safe among this chaos going around our lives.
We had concluded that the easiest way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a good one.
As experienced first-hand, it is even more difficult to replace a bad habit with a good one, no matter how honest your intensions are. However, having said that, it is also important to note that habits form inside our mind, and the way out also resides in the same mind.
Our minds just require that final push to replace the bad habit with a good one, and it is entirely possible to do so. All we need is a plan, strong will and little patience.
Here are 6 actionable and practical steps which will help us to replace a bad habit with a good one, and stick with it:
1) Change the environment & change the habit
As discussed earlier, there exists a peculiar ‘habit loop’ which empowers us to religiously follow a habit, and sub-consciously we become dependent on it. The three steps of this habit loop are:
- The Trigger: It’s the environment, the platform which tricks our mind in following the habit. Our mind follows this trigger, and performs the action which fulfills our habitual requirement.
- The Behavior: It’s the habit itself
- The Reward: The hormone which is released which gives us a sense of reward, and which prompts us for the habit next time.
As you can see, among them, the first step, the ‘trigger’, is the most important aspect of habit formation; and in order to replace it with a good habit, we need to attack this factor first.
The trigger is nothing but the environment, the platform which prompts us to follow a habit. For example, say eating sweets is a bad habit which you want to replace. One way we can change the trigger is to avoid bringing in sugar in home; or only bringing in a replacement of that sugar. If you smoke only while consuming alcohol, then stop consuming alcohol all together. If watching TV for long hours is your bad habit, then either hide the remote control or remove the cable TV connection.
Don’t let your mind follow the habit routine by denying it the platform, the trigger it seeks. If you are able to perform this one change, you are 80% done with replacing your evil habit.
2) Team up with a partner and do it together
By surrounding yourself with those persons who are themselves trying to replace a habit will prove immensely beneficial for you. Team up with persons who are like you, entrapped in the vicious cycle of bad habits, and suddenly you will experience that your energy has multiplied.
There are various focus groups, communities and workshops where like-minded people gather and collectively act against that habit. Join such groups, and experience the power of community in replacing that bad habit.
3) Do Meditation & Visualize Your Future
Meditation has immense psychological and mental healing powers, which will surprise you. Meditation means taming the mind, and in order to change a bad habit, there can’t be no other fail-proof technique. While meditating, it is encouraged to visualize your future, as you see it and next time you even think of following that bad habit, you will be guided by the mind to stop it. Visualize your actions which you want to do, and suddenly you will find yourself actually doing that.
4) Do not reinvent yourself but transform your old self
Generally it is assumed that we need to reinvent ourselves and create a new person who has no bad habits. This is entirely false way to start it. We are not required to re-invent the wheel but to use the wheel in a better way. The ‘changed’ person which you are seeking is actually present inside you, right this moment. All you need to do is bring that out by becoming the person who were previously without any bad habit. For example, if you want to quit smoking, then you need not aim for a drastic change within yourself, but simply you need to revert back to your non-smoker self.
And once you start the process, it actually becomes easier as your mind now knows that what you are seeking is actually present there.
5) Harness The Power of ‘But’ In Killing Negativity
One of the major deterrents while killing a bad habit and replacing it with a good one is: negativity. You skip one day, or you switch back to old habits once, and tremendous amount of negativity creeps in, which can hamper the whole campaign all together. It is very essential to get over such short term negativity and avoid snowballing it into a big one.
Psychologists suggest using the power of “But” to counter this short dip in morale.
For example, you are trying to destroy the habit of eating fatty and oily food, but one day, you couldn’t control your instincts and had a full plate of noodles. After you are done, just say to yourself:
“Yes, I screwed up today BUT it won’t happen again. I will not eat this food and become healthier”
Or say you smoked another cigarette and feel bad about that. Say to yourself:
“Yes, I smoked one BUT I won’t smoke again, and I will live longer”
By stating the ‘but’ word, you are giving yourself another chance at being awesome, and this can be the stepping stone to your success.
6) Keep Calm & Prepare for Failure
Lastly, keep your calm, and be prepared for failure. Remember, by attempting to change a bad habit, you are actually going against the stream, and more than 90% of human beings are not even able to start the process. Your deadlines will be broken and your plans will be fail.
Experience the failure, feel the heat, but keep on doing that. Visualization of your success by meditating will help you in such circumstances, as it will guide you to break that bad habit which can even take your life.
Do share your experiences of killing a bad habit, and replacing it with a good one, by commenting right here!