It takes 66 days to form a habit.

It’s the brain’s way of establishing a pattern for your neurons to follow. It’s a way of being put on autopilot.

But habits can be amazing, or they can be bad.

Think about how much time you spend on your phone instead of doing work. Or how much you struggle with your weight or health because you just can’t ditch the bad eating habits.

Sure, your habit may feel so good at the time. But how bad do you feel afterward?

How often have you promised to break a bad habit, only to find you can’t resist temptation?

I know I’ve said “I’ll stop tomorrow” or “I’ll start on Monday” depending on the habit.

But here’s the thing. Even the smallest of bad habits, when piled up, can have an adverse impact long-term. In fact, your bad habits could be denting your productivity, in any facet of life.

How to break a bad habit

The good news is that you can break bad habits. However, you can’t change something until you accept that something needs to change.

Not quite sure what your bad habits are? Below, I’ve outlined a few of the most common bad habits and how to break them, in the hope that it gets you on the path to better habits in 2019.
  1. Smoking
Even if you just have “the odd social smoke,” it’s bad for you. And it’s never too soon to quit. Best of all, it doesn’t even take that long for your body to reap the benefits of kicking this bad habit. In fact, the benefits start as soon as 20 minutes after your last cigarette. Many people succeed in quitting by setting small goals and cutting back slowly before totally giving up.
  1. Not getting enough sleep
Not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to your health. Research tells us that chronic sleep deprivation can increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, and stroke. Adults typically need 7 to 8 hours of sleep, so you need to start putting in the effort! If you want to know how to get more out of your sleep, check out this post I wrote a little while ago.
  1. Not exercising
You might not think of a bad habit as not doing something, but not exercising is a really bad habit. If you’re too busy to hit the gym, or really just don’t fancy it, you can still get plenty of benefits from exercise. Best of all, you can break it down into small chunks through the day. Getting in 15 minutes in the morning, at lunchtime, and after work is just as a good as a continuous 45-minute workout.
  1. Slouching
Most of us spend the day hunched over some sort of screen. But routinely slouching can lead to lower back pain. If you do spend a considerable amount of time hunching, stand up regularly and walk around.
  1. Looking at screens at bedtime
If you want to get more sleep (see point 2), it’s time to break the bad habit of looking at a screen right before bed. It’s thought that the light from smartphones, tablets, laptops, and TVs can affect the hormones that help you to sleep. Instead, put these things away about an hour or so before bed.

It’s Not All Bad

Is your bad habit on the list? Maybe you can think of others?

No matter what your bad habit may be, here’s how you can break it, starting right now.
  1. Positive Reinforcement
Treat yourself! No matter how small the change towards breaking your habit is, reward yourself. Use the time, energy or money you’ve saved to do or buy something nice for yourself.
  1. Identify the Change
I said you can’t change something unless you accept something needs to change. So, identify why you want to change. Write it down. Do a pros and cons list. Keep the list and use it for motivation.
  1. Replace the Bad Habit
Research shows that replacing bad habits with other activities is a great way to break the habit. Instead of biting your nails, clench your fists. Instead of lighting up a smoke, go for a walk.
  1. Get Support
It’s so much easier to break a habit when you have a network of support. Why not get together with a buddy to break a habit? Or share your plan with your family and ask them not to engage in the habit around you.

You’ve Got This

Once you commit to breaking a bad habit, I bet nothing can stop you. Okay, we’re human, and lapses are normal, but instead of using a setback as an excuse to give up, see it as a chance to figure out what went wrong and get back on track.

You’ve got this!

 

Share my journey today at marksalinas.com.

 

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