If you’re interested in removing a bad habit, I have some bad news for you: you can’t.
Luckily, you can get rid of it. Here’s how.
A Demanding Month
I had a pretty tough month last month. Okay, it was brutal. In addition to publishing over 20 blog posts, emails, and videos, I had to travel, direct 6 adventures, 6 promos, 2 sneak peaks, act in 8 of those, and edit them, all while coding a new update for AweVenture, keeping the normal operations of the business running, and being a dad.
I have a lot of checks in place to make sure that I can perform at a certain level no matter what. Whether it’s my streaks, my requirements of a certain level of baseline work each day, or my timelines, there are things that keep me moving forward no matter what.
Slipping, Slipping, Slipping into the Future
Unfortunately, I noticed there were certain things that were slipping. My eating was getting worse. Even though I woke up at a certain time each day, I would often get up for a minute or two and go right back to bed. All my high-productivity was slipping away.
I tried several things to avoid this. I got to bed earlier. I changed my focus. I tried to recalibrate my downtime and productivity. No matter what I tried, motivation evaded me. I tried to get up and get moving, but my brain was fighting me at every turn. Everything seemed like a merry go round. It seemed pointless and worthless.
I was stuck trying to move forward, while I continued to slip backward. I was trying to avoid reverting to some bad habits, but I forgot something key about removing a bad habit: you can’t.
Dealing with a Bad Habit
The thing about a bad habit is that it exists. You can’t just make it disappear. Removing a bad habit will create a vacuum: you will need something to fill the void. Most likely, since you are used to filling up that vacuum with the habit, the habit will eventually return, particularly because you perform the habit in response to a trigger.
If you want to stop a bad habit find a good replacement and use it. Perhaps that smoke break you take could be replaced with a quick walk around the building. Perhaps the afternoon trip to the vending machines could be replaced with a quick crossword puzzle.
Dealing with Change
Bear in mind, some habits are so big and ingrained that our minds will fight back. Our minds don’t like removing a bad habit because they don’t like change. Here are three simple steps for removing a bad habit that no matter how big.
- Start Small: Sometimes it may not be easy to quit all together. If so, create a plan where you change over time. Just like the Couch to 5k program where you run more over weeks, you can do the same with a habit. Maybe you replace one trip to the vending machine a week with a good habit. You may be surprised how far you’ve come after a few weeks.
- Give Yourself a Break: Make sure you allow room to enjoy yourself. One of the things that caused me to struggle so much was that I was doing too much. It was hard to be motivated because everything seemed like never ending work. Even though I enjoyed the work, I also needed a break.
- Break it Down: Sometimes our biggest challenges are our own limitations. We struggle because we define a window of time that’s too big. We think that we must eat perfectly all week or we won’t be happy. Maybe just focus on each portion of a day. My longest stretch of going without sweets started when I only focused on a third of a day at a time. I only had to eat healthy food until noon. Then I only had to do it from noon until five. Then I only had to finish out the day. When we break it down, removing a bad habit becomes much easier.
Removing a Bad Habit
If you are looking at removing a bad habit remember this: you can’t. You have to replace it.
The best ways to do that are to start small with a reasonable size that you can manage, give yourself a break so that you find enjoyment in what you’re doing, and break it down into manageable chunks.
It’s the best way for removing a bad habit and a way that will help you turn a bad habit into a good one.