How To Break Bad Habit Step by Step
Benjamin Franklin is often credited as saying that, “the best way to break a bad habit is to create a new one”, and that’s what this post will go into detail about.
The folks at Alcoholics Anonymous has another saying…something to the tune of you’ll quit drinking or other bad habits when “you’re sick and tired of feeling sick and tired”…
Therefore, motivation is key to breaking a bad habit. without motivation there’s no impetus to fight through complacency and/or lethargic attitudes towards self improvement. Self improvement and self motivation DO go hand in hand because one is not achieved without the other. I sit at a couch or desk all day, and as the years pass it gets harder to lose weight and keep it off. If this habit continued to go unattended/fixed, then you’ll develop a weaker core, which leads to bad posture, which leads to back pain in many many cases.
If you’re a stubborn Irish-American like me you can deal with carrying around some extra pounds, but when back pain ensues and continues for a while you will get sick and tired of feeling that way. And when you carry around a constant yearning for change but don’t do anything about it, the motivation piles up slowly.
However, if it took years of bad habits like not exercising, not eating right, and even not caring about your health to get yourself to the point where you feel a strong urge for change, you still have to un-do the habits you’ve created before changing your situation.
Australian business Ladbrokes Australia have implemented an in work motivation program which they say has increased productivity throughout the business.
How many people quit their New Year’s Resolutions within a month or two, and why?
A lot of people quit their resolutions for change because they didn’t have good enough motivation AND they probably didn’t have a good enough plan. It’s a fact of life and simple human nature that we seek pleasure, not pain. It’s also human nature that we do not like change, which makes it difficult to seek out and achieve the changes we want to see in and for ourselves.
Set realistic and easily achievable goals…
Since we don’t like change and gravitate towards pleasure, it’s a recipe for failure when we try to do too much too soon, and that’s why most New Year’s Resolutions fail. There’s too many days, weeks and even years of bad habits we’re trying to change in just a few days and we’re trying to change too much, too soon which leads to discomfort.
For example, dieting.
Crash diets are notorious for working quickly but more often than not, most people regain the weight they lost and even added a few pounds when all is said and done. The body doesn’t like change either, but will respond to changes in diet with some weight loss, but like the human mind, the body seeks a return to normalcy which is why many attempts at severe and sudden change don’t pan out well for the person attempting it.
- Here’s what I did to get back in shape, slowly but surely
- 1st week of 2010 – do 1 single push in the morning, and one at night before bed.
- No big deal there, right? Anyone can do 1 measly pushup!
However, the point here was to be smart and to develop an easy to maintain habit, and believe it or not, taking that first step and committing to doing just one push in the morning was by far the hardest step of all.
- 2d week of 2010 – 3 push ups in the morning, 3 at night
- 3d week of 2010 – 5 push ups in the morning, 5 at night
- 4th week – 10 push ups in the morning, 10 at night
- 5th week – 15 push ups in the morning, 15 at night
- 6th week – 18 push ups in the morning, 18 at night
- 7th week – 20 push ups in the morning, 20 at night
The hardest part after week one is starting the next week off with an increased number of push ups to do. However, it wasn’t as difficult as committing to doing that 1 single push up on day 1, week 1.
Week 1 was the hardest because I was breaking new ground, and doing 20 push-ups in the morning is much, much easier because I actually want to do it and the habit has been created. My mental resistance to doing something new is gone now, and all that’s left is maintaining my schedule.
NOTE: If you start a new habit and feel like it’s going too slow for your liking and you want to increase the pac eat which you’re effecting change in yourself, do not give in to this temptation.
That’s a sign of impending failure because the old habit you might have, as discussed previously in this post, is to do too much too soon, thereby making it less pleasurable to achieve the changes you want.
When you feel like “ramping things up” a bit, resist the urge to do so, knowing that this urge is going to be the motivation that carries you over into wanting to keep at this in the following weeks and hopefully years to come.
So what bad habit did I break by creating this new habit of doing push ups in the morning and at night?
Well, if I eat something late at night, which is a continued bad habit of mine, then I will do push ups to “atone” for my bad behavior, and over time the late night eating has gone down considerably. There are times when I’ll just eat a cracker or not eat at all late night and go right to the push ups then off to bed.
Slowly but surely the bad habit of eating lat eat night is getting to be less of a habit, and soon it will be non-existent. In the meantime, I’ve lost weight by getting my heart rate going in the morning and of course, by eating less at night.