How To Bust A Bad Habit And Start A Good One

Do you have a bad habit you want to bust? Whether it’s chewing your nails, smoking, drinking, or eating cake at midnight, you can stop! And in the end you’ll wind up with something better.

Why do we start bad habits? Often, we start when we’re young due to peer pressure. The cool kids are all drinking, so we should too. But we continue bad habits as a way to release stress or fight boredom. There’s a way to bust bad habits as easily as we started them. It’s actually simple.

3 Steps To Bust A Bad Habit

  1. Name the habit you want to bust: Before you can quit a habit, you have to admit that it’s a problem. Anything that is physically, mentally, or emotionally damaging could be a bad habit. You have to make a conscious choice to stop. Name the habit that you want to bust and be ready to simply let it go. Don’t resist. Just let go. 
  2. Find a better, substitute habit: How do you quit doing something without resisting? You simply do something else instead. I used to smoke cigarettes in my late teens and early 20s. I started running and riding a bicycle instead. I drank more than what was healthy until I was 30. I stopped drinking by reading and starting my college career. To bust a bad habit, you need to replace it with a better habit.   
  3. Change your surroundings: This doesn’t mean you have to move. Just change up your routine. Instead of coming home and getting on Facebook, set a book right by your favorite chair. Remove ashtrays from your home and replace them with stress balls and tea cups. Instead of visiting friends that support your bad habits, visit friends that support your healthy habits.

Sometimes You’ll Slip And That’s Okay

It’s not always easy. I actually quit smoking three times before I quit for good. I quit drinking a few times, too. The harder you try to bust a bad habit, the more you’re bound to fail. Expect it. If you set your bar too high, you’ll crash harder when you do fail. Welcome failure and learn from it.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Where was I when I gave back into the bad habit?
  • What were the triggers?
  • Who was I with and why?
  • When did it happen?
  • How many times did I repeat the bad behavior?

Tracking your triggers and surroundings when you give into bad habits can arm you with ammunition for strengthening your replacement habit. Knowing your weak places gives you insight for when and where to practice your new, healthier habit.

You Can’t Bust A Bad Habit Overnight

Replacing a bad habit with a more positive habit is not an overnight process. It’s a long road of ups and downs. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you slip. But more importantly, don’t stop your replacement habit. The key to letting go of a bad habit is not in fighting it, but in replacing it with something better.

If you stick with your replacement habit. you’ll find yourself doing it more and forgetting about the old, bad habit. I haven’t smoked in over 20 years. I’m still exercising regularly. I haven’t drank hard alcohol in over 20 years, but I’m still reading and writing every day.

Start today. Remember the three steps to bust a bad habit:

  • Name it
  • Substitute it
  • Change it

Next time you give in, give yourself a break. As long as you’re learning from your mistakes, you’re heading in the right direction.

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James Ewen
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