A habit is formed through a basic three-step structure called the 3 R’s.
To grasp a clear understanding of this, let’s use the example of brushing your teeth since this is a habit most of us have.
1) Your mouth and teeth are dirty (Reminder) – This first step initiates the habit by reminding you to do it. This is usually done unconsciously.
2) You brush your teeth (Routine) – This is when you actually perform the habit that you are reminded of.
3) Your mouth feels clean (Reward) – The result of performing the routine.
When the reward is a positive result, you’ll want to repeat the same process again when the reminder happens next time. When you repeat this same process enough times, it becomes a habit.
Why Replace Your Bad Habit?
If you really think about it, most bad habits are caused by stress and boredom. Whether it’s smoking cigarettes, watching too much TV, gambling or biting your nails, they are all a simple response to being stressed or having too much time on your hands. This doesn’t mean that you do them for no particular reason though.
These bad habits are fulfilling certain needs in your life. You smoke cigarettes to help calm you down from your stress. You play video games because it gives you satisfaction. You go on shopping sprees because it makes you feel better about yourself. For this reason, it is critical that you replace your bad habit with a good one in order to satisfy that need. If you tried to quit smoking and didn’t substitute it with another stress relieving activity, chances are you will revert back to your old ways. But if you replaced smoking with going to the gym and lifting weights to relieve your stress, you have a greater chance of breaking your bad habit.
It sounds easier than it really is, but everyone is capable of breaking their bad habits. But remember that what you are really doing is changing your natural tendencies and the way your brain thinks. It’s going to take some time and a lot of work. Don’t be discouraged though and keep reading as you will learn some great tips on how to turn your bad habit into a good habit.
Tips On Changing Your Bad Habit Into A Good One
Accept the fact that you have a bad habit – In order to overcome a bad habit, you have to admit that one exists in the first place The moment you see through your excuses and rationalizations that what you’re actually doing is harmful or compulsive, only then can you start to focus on ways to take action. If you aren’t sure if you have a bad habit, consult with your family and friends to give yourself a better perspective.
Stay positive and realistic – It’s important that you stay positive, yet humble about the situation. This will give you right amount of confidence and motivation necessary to achieve your goal. Being too confident or negative about breaking your bad habit will usually result in failure because you thought it would be easier than expected and eventually give up, or you are too pessimistic and won’t think you change.
Studies have shown that people who are realistic about what it takes to succeed naturally plan more, put in more effort, and persist longer towards achieving their goals. Since they expect to work hard for it, they do exactly just that. Similarly, breaking a bad habit is not an easy task for any individual.
Be specific about your goals – We’ve always been taught to make goals in order to successful in life. But sometimes we make the mistake of not being specific enough with our goals. For example, say that you wanted to start going to the gym more often. What exactly is “often”? Is that five times a week or twice a week? What types of exercises do you want to perform? These detailed questions will help you stay the course as you try to reach your goal. Some studies show that it is much easier to stay motivated when you have a very specific end point in mind. This also helps you determine how far you are from reaching the finish line.
Don’t expect results overnight – One study shows that it takes around 66 days to form a habit, which is equivalent to almost 10 weeks! So in order to break that habit, you can bet it will take just as long, if not longer. This means you have to be patient with your progress, and don’t lose confidence in yourself. Just because you’ve been progressing well during the first few weeks doesn’t mean you’ve broken the bad habit quite yet.
Break one bad habit at a time – I know we live in a time where everyone is multi-tasking, but try to refrain from doing so when it comes to breaking your bad habit. A couple months may seem like a long time to only focus on one, but attempting to defeat more could end up ruining everything. Then it would be back to beginning again, wasting both your time and energy. Changing one habit should be enough on your plate as it is, so concentrate on that, and then move on to the next challenge when you’re ready.
Focus on the reward – If you ever start to doubt yourself during the transitional period, remember why you wanted to make this change in the first place. Always envision the reward that comes out of this at the finish line. For instance, if your goal is to stop surfing the web at your job in order to get more work done, what will you benefit from this change? Is it more money? To increase your chances of getting promoted? Don’t forget about the reward that comes with your new habit, and let that be the fuel that feeds your fire.
Keep it simple – Since you are trying to change the way your brain naturally thinks, it’s important that you don’t over-complicate things. Your new habit should consist of only one or two rules, nothing more. If you are cutting junk food out of your diet and replacing it with healthier options, stick with something simple like fruits and vegetables. Trying to also cut saturated fat and bad cholesterol with good cholesterol can be too much of a change in such a short period of time. Keep it simple for now, and then work on other things once you reached your current goal.