We all have bad habits.
Maybe you forget to wash your makeup off before you go to sleep. Or maybe you put the spoiled food back into the refrigerator rather than throw it out (FYI, it ain’t gonna get any fresher).
The best way I’ve found for eliminating bad habits is to replace them with good habits.
Let’s say you want to quit smoking. You could make a new good habit of drinking a glass of water every time you want a cigarette. Yes, this is more law of attraction “woo woo” stuff. Instead of focusing on the bad, try bringing more good into your life.
How do you make good habits stick? Most of us have tried and failed at creating good habits before. The solution: your habits just need some simple structure.
Choose a good habit that means something to you. Some people in your life might think they know what’s best for you, but forcing yourself to create a habit that doesn’t fit with who you are will set you up for failure.
Maybe someone thinks that you should spend 30 minutes cleaning the house every night, but you’d rather spend that 30 minutes reading. Figure out what behavior is going to make you happiest in the long run.
Clarity is essential when forming a good habit. Let’s say your new habit is “I want to exercise more.” What does that really mean? How will you know whether you’re succeeding?
Instead, try to be as specific as possible: “My new habit is to get 30 minutes of high intensity cardio exercise 3 day per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). I will exercise at 6:00 am at my gym using either the treadmill or elliptical trainer.”
That’s much more clear! Set yourself up for success by giving yourself clear guidelines.
If you’re “kinda” doing something, you’ll “kinda” get results. If this good habit is important to you, then ACT like it’s important. Fully commit yourself to making this change and be consistent.
If your goal is to call your sister every Saturday, then set up a reminder on your phone and write it on your calendar. If you want to floss your teeth every day, then do it EVERY day, not 3 times one week and 1 time the next.
Like most people, you probably wanted this habit to be established yesterday. Just as bad habits develop over time, good habits need time to form. So how long will that take? I’ve read a lot of conflicting research about habit forming; some studies say it takes 3 weeks, some say 3 months.
You’ll know your good habit is fully formed when it becomes second nature. I don’t think about brushing my teeth before I go to bed—I’ve done it so many times that my body is on autopilot when I do it.
You’re creating new neural pathways to cement this habit into your subconscious. Give it time. You’re done when you don’t even realize you’re doing it.
You don’t have to play the “tough guy” role. It’s OK (and helpful!) to ask for support from your friends and family. Your loved ones WANT to see you succeed, and they might be available to be a sounding board or give you the pat on the back you need. You just have to allow yourself to be vulnerable and ask for support.
Be specific with what you need: “I need you to encourage me to walk for 30 minutes a day. Please acknowledge my commitment, even if I fall short and only walk for 10 minutes. Having your support and praise motivates me to stick to this good habit.”
How great would it be if one of your friends has the same goal? You could support each other and be stronger together.
So, after you establish 1 good habit you’re done, right? No way! I want you to continue to evolve and grow as a person. Use the momentum you gained by forming a new habit to spur you on to the next one.
Your life and priorities will change over time, so you might find a new practice to adopt to become an even better version of yourself.
Ready to create some good habits? Check out these articles:
Forming A Healthy Habit Starts from Within
It’s Not Too Late to Change Your Habits
The Secret to Breaking Bad Habits
The Habits That Crush Us
The Power of Baby Steps
What good habits have you incorporated into your life? How do you make a habit stick?