How to Break Bad Habits in 21 Days (or Less)

learning how to break a bad habit can be tricky, as habits are often described with negative connotations: "I have so many bad habits." "I picked up this bad habit where I always do X." “I noticed you have a habit of always doing me.” You rarely hear someone say, “I have a very good habit that makes me do x”. “I love this habit, you always do Yu.” Because the habits we know are often negative, we tend to try to break them simply by stopping them in one go, which is tough and not always the best solution. All the habits that have a positive impact on our lives tend to go unnoticed, which is not surprising, since they often do not give us a problem. The trick on how to break bad habits is to find an approach that works for you and special habits. Not all habits are the same, and they cannot be broken in the same way.

What is a habit?

A habit is a set of repetitive tendencies that are often difficult to break and are usually performed subconsciously. It is important to understand what a habit is before you start to try to break or change one. Luckily, it's a simple one that helps when you have to recognize when you're about to go into a habit loop. ((Charles Duhigg: The Power of Habit: How Habits Work)) First, there is a trigger. It could be a location, a particular time of day, the behavior patterns of those around you, or just an emotional state. The trigger starts out normal, routine, you may not even know that you are following. Finally, you receive a reward or result. Reward isn't always the best word to use, of course, with bad habits, but it's what keeps you coming back to the habit over and over again. Before you learn how to break a bad habit using the methods in this article, you should start by noting your triggers, routines, and rewards for each habit. Once you know these three steps for each habit, you begin to build defenses to fight bad habits as you learn where you are in the habit cycle.

How to break a bad habit quickly

When you're ready to learn how to break a bad habit, the following tips can help.

1. Replace the habit with a new one

Part of a habit is a routine that follows a push, so to lessen the impact of stopping a habitual behavior, you can replace it with another habit that has a more positive and healthier impact on your life. Smoking is one of the most common habits people are looking to stop and is a great example of this approach. There are many things you could change when you feel like smoking. Some examples are as follows:

  1. Chew gum
  2. Eat some fruit
  3. Drink
  4. Go for a walk
  5. play with something in hand

It depends on your situation, but to replace any habit, the key is to distract yourself long enough that the temptation to perform the negative habit wears off.

2. Celebrate small successes

Breaking habits can take some time. This may depend on how many times a day or week you repeat the habit you want to break or how it has become ingrained in your lifestyle. Is it possible to get rid of a habit in 21 days or 21 weeks, you need to celebrate every day where you have not repeated the habit. If you can manage only two days before cracking, then celebrate those two days. Don't expect to break all habits right away. This takes time. If you only managed two days on your first try, celebrate the next time you make it for a week and so on. Before you know it, you will look back and laugh at the fact you could only manage two days to start!

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3. Change Your Personality

Habits are often difficult to break, as they are usually based on a change in how we act in everyday life or are associated with a change in lifestyle. They are both great, but it's more difficult if our personality is fighting against these changes. To make real significant changes in our lives, we need to start thinking about how we need to change our personality. For example, if you're trying to lose weight, but you yourself think of yourself as someone who is always struggling with your weight ("that's just who I am"), then you will continue to fight to lose weight. Try to change your thinking “I am able to make positive changes” and see what happens. One of the most common examples is a smoker once saying "I'm a smoker trying to quit" or "I love being a smoker but I need to quit". It will be better if you decide who you want to be in life, this is the first step in changing your personality. If you tell yourself you don't like being a smoker, it's unlikely you'll be successful in the changes you want to make. "I don't smoke" or "I'm healthy" are things that you can say to yourself daily in your head, imperceptibly to yourself and others. You can slowly start to change how you identify with yourself. You will get it back with small victories, a streak for a few days without cigarettes, or going to the gym a few times or eating better. Changing your personality takes time, but it can be done.

4. Using digital tools to your advantage

Digital or simply general cell phone use is one of the most famous habits that many of us try to cut down. She usually scrolls through social media without noticing how long we've been doing it, constantly getting distracted by notifications, or just picking up our cell phone to check it out as a distraction from work or life in general. However, digital tools can be used to help us break the habit, either through reminders to keep us on track or rewards when we change or create a new positive habit. Tracking a newly formed habit in the form of a strip is a great way to keep you focused and motivated. There are many Application Strike there that allow you to create a streak, set reminders, and also earn mini visual rewards when you hit certain milestones. Rather than cutting out social media completely, change the reward of a particular habit for a specific period of time to look at your social networks. With social media, on your terms and not the other way around, it can be a positive addition to your life.

5. Use Visual Cues

One of the oldest and most effective ways to break the habit of eating is through visual cues, acting as a reminder or reward. Placing visual reminders, clues, and trackers around your home gives you a cheap, easy, and effective way to keep your habits in front of your mind. This may be due to use on the refrigerator, where you are crossing out every day, since you did not produce a negative habit, such as a calendar. Something as simple as post-it notes on your nightstand reminding you of your goal for the day can be a powerful mental signal to help you break a bad habit. Visual cues are great as they become a habit in themselves. Taking a calendar on the fridge, for example, is a trigger to see the calendar every morning. The routine ends with another day on the calendar, and then the reward is to see the calendar filled with ticks. Simple but addictive!

6. Find a habit-crushing partner

Breaking habits is hard, but finding support from a friend or partner can be incredibly helpful in allowing you to focus on repeating your new habit or stopping you from repeating an old one. Look for when your triggers usually happen, and find a partner who is most likely to be with you when those triggers happen. Open and honest discussion with them about what habit you are trying to crush and explain how they can help. Help from a partner can come in the following forms:

  1. Just asking how you do with stopping your habit - it's a habit in the forefront so you don't relapse.
  2. By helping you remove triggers from the environment you are so temptations are reduced.
  3. Sharing a new reward with you if you change your habit instead of removing it.
  4. Find a habit you like to stop and do it together.
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7. Stack Your Habits

Styling habits are a quick win when it comes to creating new positive habits. We have thousands of little habits that we do every day without even realizing it. These can be activities involved in brushing your teeth, the steps of forming a cup of coffee, when you first get up, putting on the radio, when you go to the kitchen, etc. As we already have thousands of habits that we do every day, we can add new habits on top of them. For example, if your goal is to learn 10 minutes of French every day, you do it after you've made your coffee every morning. If your goal is to practice visualization every day, you spend 3 minutes doing this when your anxiety goes away every morning. It's very simple: link old habits to new ones.

8. Visualize New Habits

Visualization can help with habit breaking. However, the main thing is not the visualization of the result, but the visualization of the process or procedure must be created in order to achieve it. A study at the University of California found exactly this by comparing students who visualized the process needed to achieve their goal versus visualizing the actual achievement of the goal. They found that the students who did the former mastered the techniques and improved grades. ((UCLA: From Action to Thought: The Implications of the Process and Result of Mental Modeling on Performance)) Visualization practitioners also help reduce anxiety by breaking habits. In some cases, the habit you're trying to break can cause you stress just thinking about it. Visualizing a positive routine helps with this, even if you only do it for 2-3 minutes a day.

9. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness about being present in the moment and being aware of your thoughts and therefore can be a useful tool when learning how to break a bad habit. By practicing mindfulness and becoming more aware of your triggers, you will increase your chance of success in overcoming this habit. By recognizing the trigger before you move into a habit routine, you will be able to break the habit much faster. Mindfulness does not mean that you fight or block those thoughts. It just allows you to interact with them more effectively.

Bottom Line

Everyone is different, so try different approaches when it comes to breaking habits. If it doesn't work, then see why, adapt, and try again, and don't forget to celebrate what you did well. Remember that the basic principles of habit change can include the following five steps:

  1. Determine the habits you want to break or change.
  2. Find out what causes this habit.
  3. Determine the procedure that follows the trigger.
  4. Determine the reward you receive for the next procedure.
  5. The FCC element change depending on whether you want to break or change this habit.

To break a bad habit in 21 days, you need to replace what you do many times a day, and this can be a difficult but rewarding process. Once you stop being aware of what does and doesn't work for you, you can begin to create the life you've always wanted.

Additional tips for breaking bad habits

  • 10 Real Reasons Quitting Bad Habits Is So Hard
  • Why Forming a New Good Habit Is Easier Than Breaking a Bad Habit
  • How to Break a Habit and Break the Loop of a Habit
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