How to get rid of bad work habits

Published by Chris Miltimore on July 1, 2019 July 1, 2019

B R. Andrews wrote in The American Journal of Psychology that a habit “is a more or less fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.”

All of us need to admit that we have bad work habits that can hold us back. Maybe we’re always interrupting people, or we’re always late to meetings, or we’ve got an excuse for everything that goes wrong.

Here are a few tips for getting rid of those bad habits at work that might be holding you back.

How To Break Your Bad Habits

Be Aware of what you are doing.

The first step to breaking any bad habit is to be aware of it. Most of us keep doing what we do because we don’t even realize that we are doing it. The more we are aware of what triggers our habits, the better we will be able to control and eliminate them. Knowing what makes us do the things we don’t like helps us to have power over them.

In a TED talk about trying to be aware of our habits, psychiatrist Judson Brewer argues we can start to change our habits by being aware of the moments during which we’re acting them out.

Change your bad habits by replacing them.

While you can’t truly eliminate a habit, you can reform it by replacing it with something better. All of the habits that you have right now — good or bad — are in your life for a reason. For example, checking your email as soon as you turn on your computer might make you feel connected…but at the same time looking at all of those emails kills your productivity, is extremely distracting, and can overwhelm you with stress. But, it prevents you from feeling like you’re “missing out” … and so you keep doing it; thus completing a vicious cycle.

Because bad habits provide some kind of benefit in your life, it’s difficult to just eliminate them. (This is why advice like “just stop doing it” hardly ever works.)

Instead, you need to replace a bad habit with a new and better habit that provides a benefit that is similar to the one your are trying to ditch. You need to have a plan for when your trigger causes you to want to revert to your old ways. Without a plan, you will almost surely go back to doing what you did before.

Give yourself a break…you’re not perfect.

It’s easy to get caught up in how you feel about your bad habits. You can make yourself feel guilty or spend your time wishing things were different but these thoughts are not productive and will take you away from what’s really happening.

Instead, being aware of what’s going on will show you how to actually make the changes stick.

  • When does your bad habit actually happen?
  • How many times do you do it each day?
  • Where are you?
  • Who are you with?
  • What triggers it?

Just asking those questions will make you more aware what you’re doing and give you lots of ideas for stopping it.

Here’s an example of how to start: track how many times per day your bad habit happens. Use technology…we all have smart phones. Each time your bad habit happens, jot it down as a memo on your phone. At the end of the day, review your notes and see how many times your bad habits surfaced. In this way you will be able to get an accurate picture of what you need to work on.

Use the Start, Stop, Continue method.

  • What should I START doing that will help me to change.
  • What should I STOP doing that is preventing me from forward progress?
  • What should I CONTINUE doing that will enable me to stay on the path that leads to better habits?

Initially, breaking bad habits takes a lot of time and effort, but mostly it just takes perseverance. Most people who end up breaking bad habits try and fail many times before they make it stick. You might not have success right away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have it at all. Keeping working at it and you’ll find that it gets easier with time. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you are doing self-assessments without even realizing it and correcting automatically.

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How to get rid of bad work habits

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Habits – These define who we are and our potential. If you have good habits that support your goals, you will subconsciously barrel towards success, happiness and a list of completed goals. However, if your habits are self sabotaging and holding you back, it can stop you from achieving success and slow down all of your progress.

In this episode of The Lifehack Show, you will learn the simple yet powerful ways to get rid of bad habits once and for all.

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“Busy” used to be a fair description of the typical schedule. More and more, though, “busy” simply doesn’t cut it.

“Busy” has been replaced with “too busy”, “far too busy”, or “absolutely buried.” It’s true that being productive often means being busy…but it’s only true up to a point.

As you likely know from personal experience, you can become so busy that you reach a tipping point…a point where your life tips over and falls apart because you can no longer withstand the weight of your commitments.

Once you’ve reached that point, it becomes fairly obvious that you’ve over-committed yourself.

The trick, though, is to recognize the signs of “too busy” before you reach that tipping point. A little self-assessment and some proactive schedule-thinning can prevent you from having that meltdown.

To help you in that self-assessment, here are 7 signs that you’re way too busy:

1. You Can’t Remember the Last Time You Took a Day Off

Occasional periods of rest are not unproductive, they are essential to productivity. Extended periods of non-stop activity result in fatigue, and fatigue results in lower-quality output. As Sydney J. Harris once said,

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”

2. Those Closest to You Have Stopped Asking for Your Time

Why? They simply know that you have no time to give them. Your loved ones will be persistent for a long time, but once you reach the point where they’ve stopped asking, you’ve reached a dangerous level of busy.

3. Activities like Eating Are Always Done in Tandem with Other Tasks

If you constantly find yourself using meal times, car rides, etc. as times to catch up on emails, phone calls, or calendar readjustments, it’s time to lighten the load.

It’s one thing to use your time efficiently. It’s a whole different ballgame, though, when you have so little time that you can’t even focus on feeding yourself.

4. You’re Consistently More Tired When You Get up in the Morning Than You Are When You Go to Bed

One of the surest signs of an overloaded schedule is morning fatigue. This is a good indication that you’ve not rested well during the night, which is a good sign that you’ve got way too much on your mind.

If you’ve got so much to do that you can’t even shut your mind down when you’re laying in bed, you’re too busy.

5. The Most Exercise You Get Is Sprinting from One Commitment to the Next

It’s proven that exercise promotes healthy lives. If you don’t care about that, that’s one thing. If you’d like to exercise, though, but you just don’t have time for it, you’re too busy.

If the closest thing you get to exercise is running from your office to your car because you’re late for your ninth appointment of the day, it’s time to slow down.

6. You Dread Getting up in the Morning

If your days are so crammed full that you literally dread even starting them, you’re too busy. A new day should hold at least a small level of refreshment and excitement. Scale back until you find that place again.

7. “Survival Mode” Is Your Only Mode

If you can’t remember what it feels like to be ahead of schedule, or at least “caught up”, you’re too busy.

So, How To Get out of Busyness?

Take a look at this video:

And these articles to help you get unstuck:

How to get rid of bad work habits

Hi Celes, I have a question about habits: How can I get rid of a bad habit? – Ros

Hi Ros! There are 2 recommendations I have to tackle a bad habit.

This first will be to think about the positive habit you want to build in its place, rather than the bad habit you want to remove.

So for example, let’s say you want to stop hunching your back. Rather than think about not hunching your back, think about how you can cultivate the habit of sitting up straight. Or say, you want to stop eating junk food – think about how you can eat healthily instead. Or if you want to stop being late, think about how you can be punctual. And so on.

There are 2 reasons why this is more useful. Firstly, by focusing on the bad habit, you give energy to that bad habit. Say, when you think about not hunching your back, the immediate visualization you have is a hunched back. Ironically, the more you think about that, the more you are inclined to do that. This reinforces the bad habit, and makes it harder to quit it. It’s a cycle that perpetuates itself.

On the other hand, when you focus on the positive habit you want to create, you give energy to that – hence creating a positive loop. Successfully doing the positive habit, even if just one time, opens you up to the habit itself. The more you do it, the more you see its merits, the more you’re inclined to do it again in the future. While it may be hard to get started at the beginning, but once you get going, it will fuel itself.

The second reason is because the removal of every habit will lead to a void. Because every habit comprises of an action, which when removed, leads to an empty space. When you don’t fill this void right away, either of the following will happen (a) the bad habit which you just eliminated will slip right back in, since it’s the most recent reference point (b) something else will fill the void and become the next habit – and it may be another bad habit.

An example would be say, quitting soda. Say you drink a lot of Coke. You want to quit Coke and live a more healthy lifestyle. You successfully eliminate Coke from your diet. However, because you did not think about a replacement habit, you end up drinking Mountain Dew in its place instead. Not exactly the kind of outcome you are looking for!

However, when you think about the positive habit you want to build, say to drink more fruit juices or mineral water, the goal is clear. With the reference in mind, you can then form this positive habit as you eliminate the bad habit. It’s a more stable transition than trying to yank the bad habit out of your life.

I’ve written about how to cultivate habits successfully: Develop a Good Habit in 21 Days

The second way is to understand the roots of your bad habit – and remove the bad habit by untangling the roots.

If you think about it, habits are the result of subconscious wirings. None of us are born with the habits we have today – whether good or bad. For example, who is born with an emotional eating problem? Who enters the world with desire to drink soda? Who would think about smoking if he/she has never come across cigarettes or smoking in his/her life?

The reason why we have our habits today is because there was a point in our past when someone said something to us, or where we saw something, or where something happened to us – after which we picked up the habits. Over time, the habits become embedded as part of our daily routine, and remains as such because we never tried to change them.

By unraveling the subconscious thinking that’s giving rise to that habit, you can remove it permanently. I’ve written about this in the following articles:

Over the course of our lives, we’ve all developed behaviors or routines that have not served us well in our quest for happiness or success. Although these habits have kept us from achieving our goals, we often find it difficult to break free of them.

Sometimes, these negative behaviors become so routine that we perform them without thinking. But over time, bad habits are bound to become obstacles, weighing us down, forcing us to acknowledge that they are not good for us. We will soon feel an urgency to break free.

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”

When we begin to feel the burden of our bad habits, we look around for a quick fix. We turn to others for direction or answers on how to get rid of them. But the truth is that, breaking bad habits are highly dependent on “the man in the mirror.”

We must first have the desire or motivation to make a change. Then we must change our mindset and our attitude. This drives us to make the decision to do things differently: to break the habit, or change it. Of course, we must effect a change by doing things in a new manner or using a new method.

The mechanism to break bad habits or to change must come from within us and not from others. This quote from former U.S. President Barack Obama not only applies to the broad scope of society and culture, but it applies to the needs of our individual selves:

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

So, here 15 more motivational quotes to inspire each of us to drop the bad habits, which stand between us and our personal fulfillment.

Inspiring Quotes on Getting Rid of Bad Habits

“You leave old habits behind by starting out with the thought, ‘I release the need for this in my life’.” – Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

How to get rid of bad work habits

“There are no shortcuts for nurturing the movement toward wholeness other than drinking from the well of self-love.” – Don Stapleton

How to get rid of bad work habits

“You cannot change your future; but, you can change your habits, and surely your habits…will change your future.” – Dr. Abdul Kalam

How to get rid of bad work habits

“Saying NO to the wrong things creates space to say YES to the right things.” – Mack Story

How to get rid of bad work habits

“TRANSFORMATION is much more than using skills, resources and technology. It’s all about HABITS of mind.” – Malcolm Gladwell

How to get rid of bad work habits

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle

How to get rid of bad work habits

“To change habits, we must study the habits of successful role models.” – Jack Canfield

How to get rid of bad work habits

“Ultimately, your state of mind determines your circumstances. To realize the outcomes you want, it is critical to recognize and experience the transition from our present thoughts, habits, and actions to new thoughts, habits, and actions.” – Darren L. Johnson

How to get rid of bad work habits

“Nothing happens until the pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of change.” – Arthur Burt

How to get rid of bad work habits

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy NOT on fighting the old but on BUILDING the new.” – Socrates

How to get rid of bad work habits

“If you’re gonna make a change, you’re gonna have to operate from a new belief that says life happens not to me but for me.” – Tony Robbins

How to get rid of bad work habits

“REAL TRANSFORMATION requires real honesty. If you want to move forward – get real with yourself.” – Bryant McGill

How to get rid of bad work habits

“Starting something new or making a big change requires effort, persistence and motivation…Doubt, fear and worry will only slow you down. Focus on doing your best now and celebrate every step of the way.” – Doe Zantamata

How to get rid of bad work habits

“Using the power of decision gives you the capacity to get past any excuse to change any and every part of your life in an instant.” – Tony Robbins

How to get rid of bad work habits

“How does one become a butterfly? You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” – Unknown

How to get rid of bad work habits

Ready to kick those bad habits goodbye?

These inspiring quotes remind us that self-evaluation and mindset changes are necessary in any effort to break bad habits. Breaking bad habits require a process – NOT a knee-jerk reaction.

We must be willing to take our lives off autopilot – to evaluate our routines, behaviors, and attitudes. We should determine the most favorable adjustments for our well-being, then, implement them accordingly.

Everyday Power ► 15 Inspiring quotes on getting rid of bad habits

Think bad habits like nail biting and knuckle cracking are hard to break? Experts offer simple solutions.

We may be loath to admit it, but most of us have at least one bad habit. And while some bad habits — such as smoking — can pose serious health risks, others like nail biting, throat clearing, and knuckle cracking are really just plain irksome (for us and for the people that love us).

Odds are you have been biting your nails or cracking your knuckles for a long time. So how can you be expected to break these bad habits now?

Where there is a will, there is a way. No matter what your bad habit — whether nail biting, knuckle cracking, cuticle picking, chronic coughing, or throat clearing — WebMD’s cadre of experts have a simple three-step solution that can be customized to whatever habit needs breaking.

“The more you do it, the more difficult it is to get rid if it, but every single bad habit can be broken,” says Patricia A. Farrell, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Englewood, N.J. and author of How to Be your Own Therapist.

Step No.1: Make It Conscious

The first step is to figure out when — and why — you bite your nails, crack your knuckles, or engage in any other bad habit. “If you can notice when you are doing it and under what circumstances and what feelings are attached to it, you might be able to figure out why you are doing it and be able to stop,” says Susan Jaffe, MD, a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City.

Step No. 2: Put It in Writing So It Really Sinks In

“Log it,” says Janet L. Wolfe, PhD, a clinical psychologist in New York City and author of several books including What to Do When He Has a Headache. This will help you establish a baseline, she says. “Put down the antecedents, the emotions surrounding the knuckle cracking and what goes through your head when you crack your knuckles,” she says. “This will make your bad habit more conscious.”

Wolfe suggests keeping the log for at least a week. The next step is to analyze the data and look at what your usual triggers are. “Do you do it when you are anxious or bored?”

James Claiborn, PhD, a psychologist in South Portland, Maine, and the co-author of The Habit Change Workbook, agrees. “Write out a list of the pros and cons of this behavior and keep a record of when you do it,” he tells WebMD. “Measurement of anything tends to change it and makes people much more aware in the first place.”

Step No. 3: Bait and Switch

Once you realize when and why you are biting your nails, cracking your knuckles, or engaging in any other bad habit, the next logical step is to find a not-quite-as-annoying temporary or permanent replacement for it.

“If you are a nail biter, try gum,” Jaffee says.

“For throat clearing, the competing response may be some sort of slow exhaling because it is impossible to do that and clear your throat at same time,” Claiborn says. “Develop a way of breathing whenever you feel the urge to clear your throat. You can see some changes in a very short period of time. There will be a major reduction in throat clearing within days.”

If knuckle cracking is your way of coping with stress, Wolfe, says, “Try getting your hands in a position where you won’t be able to crack your knuckles. Or stroke the fabric of your sleeve, doodle, or do something else with your hands.”

Meditation may also help break bad habits, she adds. Once you have identified the triggers, you can do meditation to distract yourself next time you are in a trigger situation.

Another tactic involves placing a large rubber band around your wrist, says Farrell. “Every time you become aware that you are [engaging in a bad habit], pull it back and allow it to snap so it creates a discomfort,” she tells WebMD.

How to get rid of bad work habits

Old habits can be hard to break, and new habits hard to make, but with these six basic steps you can develop new, healthy behaviors that stick.

Can You Retrain Your Brain?

Mike wrote a list, and checked it twice. This time he was going to kill it:

  • Make a healthy snack
  • Go to the gym
  • Don’t waste time on cell phone
  • Read a classic novel
  • Housetrain Rex

Twenty-four hours later, Mike munched celery sticks while reading The Great Gatsby, his legs sore, but in a good way, after the hour on the treadmill while Rex waited patiently by the back door to go out …

Do you believe this? I didn’t think so!

Here’s what Mike was really doing. Mike was on the couch, one hand in a bag of chips, the other on his cell phone. The unopened gym bag and copy of Of Mice and Men lay on the floor, which Rex had soiled once again.

That’s more plausible, right? We all know habits don’t change overnight — not for simple doggies and not for big-brained human beings. But there’s good news: research shows that just like Rex can learn that he should go potty outside instead of on Mike’s gym bag, you can rewire your brain to change your own habits. 1 But we humans need a subtler approach than a few treats and “good boys” to change our ways.

Here’s how Mike (and you) can better understand how habits form and how to replace bad ones with good.

6 Steps to Changing Habits

  1. Identify Cues.
    Something has to trigger a habit, and a cue can be anything. Maybe stress makes you crave chocolate, or the sound of your alarm triggers you to hit the snooze button. Identifying cues helps you understand what puts your habits into motion.
  2. Disrupt.
    Once you know the cues, you can throw bad habits off track. If the alarm cues you to bash the snooze button every morning, put the alarm clock on the other side of the room. Trekking across the cold floor will likely disrupt the snooze habit.

  • Replace.
    Research shows that replacing a bad behavior with a good one is more effective than stopping the bad behavior alone. 2 The new behavior “interferes” with the old habit and prevents your brain from going into autopilot. Deciding to eat fruit every time your mind thinks “cookie” substitutes a positive behavior for the negative habit.
  • Keep It Simple.
    It’s usually hard to change a habit because the behavior has become easy and automatic. The opposite is true, too: new behaviors can be hard because your brain’s basal ganglia, (the “autopilot” part), hasn’t taken over this behavior yet. 3 Simplifying new behaviors helps you integrate them into your autopilot routines.
  • Think Long-Term.
    Habits often form because they satisfy short-term impulses, the way chewing on your nails might immediately calm your nerves. But short-term desires often have long-term consequences, like nasty, splintered, chewed up fingers. Focusing long term while trying to change some habits will help you remember why you’re investing the effort.
  • Persist.
    Research has shown that what you’ve done before is a strong indicator of what you’ll do next. This means established habits are hard to break. But the good news is, if you keep at it, your new behaviors will turn into habits, too. 4 Persistence works — at first it might be painful to get up at 5am for that jog, but soon it will be second nature.
  • Let’s check back in with Mike. He gave it another go with all these tips in mind. This time, he tossed the chips and replaced them with veggies; when his brain craved salty, fried potatoes, it found carrots instead. He promised himself that when he had the urge to kill some time on his cell phone, he’d disrupt the urge by picking up To Kill a Mockingbird instead (and if you look at his list, he’s killed two birds with one stone).

    Finally, Mike kept his gym bag in the car so he couldn’t forget it again — the first step toward forming a new 15-minutes-on-the-treadmill-during-lunch habit. (And don’t worry about Rex — it turns out his potty problems weren’t a bad habit at all, but a protest to get attention from a neglectful owner who played on his phone too much. This problem resolved itself.)

    So, habits can be changed, and with a bit of time and some effort, healthy behaviors can become second nature. Now get on it, so you can be Healthy For Good!

    Over the course of our lives, we’ve all developed behaviors or routines that have not served us well in our quest for happiness or success. Although these habits have kept us from achieving our goals, we often find it difficult to break free of them.

    Sometimes, these negative behaviors become so routine that we perform them without thinking. But over time, bad habits are bound to become obstacles, weighing us down, forcing us to acknowledge that they are not good for us. We will soon feel an urgency to break free.

    “Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”

    When we begin to feel the burden of our bad habits, we look around for a quick fix. We turn to others for direction or answers on how to get rid of them. But the truth is that, breaking bad habits are highly dependent on “the man in the mirror.”

    We must first have the desire or motivation to make a change. Then we must change our mindset and our attitude. This drives us to make the decision to do things differently: to break the habit, or change it. Of course, we must effect a change by doing things in a new manner or using a new method.

    The mechanism to break bad habits or to change must come from within us and not from others. This quote from former U.S. President Barack Obama not only applies to the broad scope of society and culture, but it applies to the needs of our individual selves:

    “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

    So, here 15 more motivational quotes to inspire each of us to drop the bad habits, which stand between us and our personal fulfillment.

    Inspiring Quotes on Getting Rid of Bad Habits

    “You leave old habits behind by starting out with the thought, ‘I release the need for this in my life’.” – Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

    How to get rid of bad work habits

    “There are no shortcuts for nurturing the movement toward wholeness other than drinking from the well of self-love.” – Don Stapleton

    How to get rid of bad work habits

    “You cannot change your future; but, you can change your habits, and surely your habits…will change your future.” – Dr. Abdul Kalam

    How to get rid of bad work habits

    “Saying NO to the wrong things creates space to say YES to the right things.” – Mack Story

    How to get rid of bad work habits

    “TRANSFORMATION is much more than using skills, resources and technology. It’s all about HABITS of mind.” – Malcolm Gladwell

    How to get rid of bad work habits

    “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle

    How to get rid of bad work habits

    “To change habits, we must study the habits of successful role models.” – Jack Canfield

    How to get rid of bad work habits

    “Ultimately, your state of mind determines your circumstances. To realize the outcomes you want, it is critical to recognize and experience the transition from our present thoughts, habits, and actions to new thoughts, habits, and actions.” – Darren L. Johnson

    How to get rid of bad work habits

    “Nothing happens until the pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of change.” – Arthur Burt

    How to get rid of bad work habits

    “The secret of change is to focus all your energy NOT on fighting the old but on BUILDING the new.” – Socrates

    How to get rid of bad work habits

    “If you’re gonna make a change, you’re gonna have to operate from a new belief that says life happens not to me but for me.” – Tony Robbins

    How to get rid of bad work habits

    “REAL TRANSFORMATION requires real honesty. If you want to move forward – get real with yourself.” – Bryant McGill

    How to get rid of bad work habits

    “Starting something new or making a big change requires effort, persistence and motivation…Doubt, fear and worry will only slow you down. Focus on doing your best now and celebrate every step of the way.” – Doe Zantamata

    How to get rid of bad work habits

    “Using the power of decision gives you the capacity to get past any excuse to change any and every part of your life in an instant.” – Tony Robbins

    How to get rid of bad work habits

    “How does one become a butterfly? You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” – Unknown

    How to get rid of bad work habits

    Ready to kick those bad habits goodbye?

    These inspiring quotes remind us that self-evaluation and mindset changes are necessary in any effort to break bad habits. Breaking bad habits require a process – NOT a knee-jerk reaction.

    We must be willing to take our lives off autopilot – to evaluate our routines, behaviors, and attitudes. We should determine the most favorable adjustments for our well-being, then, implement them accordingly.

    Everyday Power ► 15 Inspiring quotes on getting rid of bad habits

    How to get rid of bad work habits

    Every single thing you are not satisfied with in your life is a result of a bad habit compounded over time.

    If you don’t have enough money, it’s because bad habits kept you from taking action and making money.

    If you are not as fit as you would like to be, it’s because of bad habits that kept you glued to the couch.

    Bad habits are like viruses that spread into all areas of our lives.

    Would you like to change that?

    The only thing that separates successful people from failures are successful habits.

    Whether you are training for an ultra marathon, starting a business or running a successful blog, cultivating good habits is the key to mastery.But this is easier said than done.

    Most of us go through our entire lives under the control of external circumstances, as opposed to being at cause for creating the life we want to live.

    We find it near impossible to build good habits because we spend every day floating down the river of life with no oars.

    Empowering habits allow us to take charge of our destiny by controlling our daily activities so that we no longer have to be a victim to the roller coaster of our feelings. The compound effect of those actions over time leads to the life of our dreams.

    Follow these 9 steps to transform success from uncertainty to inevitability.

    1. Take 100% responsibility for your life

    Our only true freedom is to choose our response and our attitude to the events that occur every day, especially when those events are outside of our control.

    To practice 100% responsibility, choose to create an empowering meaning to any event, find the value in it and move forward in a manner that improves the quality of your life. This is as opposed to being a victim that blames, complains or whines about circumstances.

    2. Define a compelling why

    Without a strong reason to drive you in changing your habits, it is near impossible to do so. Viktor Frankl once said, “Those who have a why to live for, can bear with almost any how.”

    I have adapted that to say “those who have a why to live for, will create almost any how.” The purpose behind your desire to change a habit is the fuel that will keep you going when things get tough. It is the driving force for change.

    3. Believe in your ability to succeed

    Henry Ford said it best, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.

    Belief is the root of change. The strongest force in human behavior is the need to act in line with our self-identity or our belief of who we are. To change a habit, you must believe that you can actually do it.

    One way to create this belief is to log all the successes you have ever achieved in your life. From first learning how to tie your shoelace to graduating high school, whatever it may be, celebrate your successes to show yourself that you are capable of greatness.

    Prove to yourself that you can do anything you put your mind to. Anchor in that state of unstoppable confidence and then condition the anchor over time.

    4. Become aware of your habit cycle

    MIT researchers have found that all habits consist of three elements: a cue, a routine and a reward. If you find yourself drinking a few beers every day after work and you want to change that habit, figure out how your actions fit into the habit cycle.

    The cue could be coming home from work at 6:00pm. The routine may be taking off your shoes and your coat, sitting on your couch, kicking up your feet and opening up a beer. To figure out the reward…

    5. Experiment with different routines that meet the same reward

    Using the above example, the reward could be a variety of things. It may be the high from the alcohol, or it may be a release from the stress of work, or it may be relaxation. The key to breaking bad habits is to keep the cue and the reward the same, but change the routine.

    To gain awareness on your individual habit cycle, write down your cues, routines and rewards while you are in the cycle. Then, experiment with different routines that offer the same reward. The reward may not be what you first think it is, so be sure to get very clear on the reward by writing it down every time you engage in the habit. Once you are clear on the pleasure from the behavior, then…

    6. Interrupt the old patterns

    Often our habits are so conditioned into our being that we move through those patterns without any thought or consciousness as to what we are doing. Interrupting the old patterns creates a space for new ones. A few ways to interrupt your pattern are to shock yourself or say something outrageous that makes you laugh or interrupt it through some physical action.

    One woman put a can of dog food next to her fridge to interrupt her pattern every time she reached out for some junk food. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. The goal is to get you out of a preprogrammed way of being by engaging in a behavior that shocks you, so as to change your state and facilitate the transition into another pattern.

    7. Celebrate the little successes

    No matter how small or large, celebrate every single victory. We are no different from Pavlov’s dogs; it is just as easy to condition an associated response to an event in human beings as it is in dogs.

    By celebrating the little successes, we are simply conditioning the association between a positive emotion and the desired habit, thus reinforcing to our subconscious mind that this new habit equals pleasure. The emotion then starts to drive our actions, which in time leads to a new habit.

    8. Build a team

    Success is a team sport. No one does it alone. That is why programs like AA are so successful in aiding the recovery of alcoholics. That is also why some of he most successful people in the world, from Henry Ford to Tony Robbins to Napoleon Hill, all created mastermind groups.

    The reason why most people fail to change a bad habit is because they have no one holding them accountable for it. Find people to support you, or use stickk.com, and you will exponentially increase your chance for success.

    9. Condition the new habit for at least 30 days

    NASA researchers have found that it takes an uninterrupted period of 25-30 days for the brain to create a new neural pathway. In one experiment, NASA had a group of astronauts wear convex goggles that made everything appear upside down for 30 days. Much to their surprise, they found that after 25-30 days, all the astronauts started seeing the world the right way up, even with the goggles on. In a follow-up study, half the astronauts took off the goggles for one day after wearing them for 15 days in a row.

    It then took another 25-30 days for their brains to form the neural pathway that made the world look the right way up again. To condition a habit for long-term success, practice the new habit for 30 days in a row without any interruptions. Focus on one habit at a time to reduce overwhelm and increase your chance for success.

    Have you been able to create new habits that are still with you today?

    We would love to hear your experiences with getting rid of bad habits in the comments below.