Are you struggling with bad habits? We all do! We try so many things, yet we fail most times. We then lose motivation and give up and go back to our old habits all over again. Ultimately, we don’t achieve anything at all. So how can we quickly get rid of these habits that are stopping us from what we wish to achieve? We often do not know where and how to start and most importantly, how to be consistent in practicing good habits. Let’s look at why we keep going back to old habits, and how to create long-lasting good habits.
Take eating healthy, for example. We all would love to be healthy, as it can lead to our moods being better, our health being better, and enjoying life more as a whole. Nevertheless, we still crave those delicious, sweet treats or deep-fried foods. It's also known as junk food. Junk food is almost like an obstacle to being healthy. We try to stay on a diet, but if there is a slice of cake or some yummy pasta, we get thrown off our diet and head over to devour the delicious yet unhealthy food. And, in turn, we fail to continue with our good habits.
So, what exactly causes us to fail? According to Charles Duhigg, an American journalist and author, a habit is a three-part process. The first part is a cue or trigger, the second part is the routine or the behavior itself, and the third part is the reward. In the above example of trying to eat healthy, the cue or trigger is feeling stressed, being hungry, or being lazy to fix a healthy meal. The second part, which is the routine or the behavior, is to grab junk food right away. The third part, which is the reward, is feeling satisfied after having eaten some junk food even though it is not good for us. The key to turning a bad habit into a good habit is to figure out the cue or the trigger that kicks off our behavior. So in this example, how do we make sure we eat healthy? We need to eliminate any stress, make sure we don’t starve ourselves and make sure we have all the ingredients and enough time to prepare a healthy meal. This way we are more likely to create and continue with eating healthy food.
Another example of a bad habit that we all struggle with today is the constant need to be on social media or electronic devices. Nearly 62% of teens spend more than 4 hours a day on social media, and 29% use screens more than 8 hours a day, according to a report by Common Sense Media. Now, imagine if you were to save 3 hours by not being on social media or an electronic device? You can get many things done in those 3 hours, such as working out, fixing a healthy meal, finishing your chores, and homework. Imagine how much more productive you can be!
Let’s see how we can change this habit. The trigger is feeling lonely, feeling bored, feeling the need to connect or talk to someone, the lack of appreciation and acceptance, or the lack of affection and care from close family members. The behavior is being on social media, keeping yourself busy, chatting with friends, or anticipating likes or comments on posts you make. The reward is not feeling lonely or bored, and possibly getting appreciated and entertained by friends or other people you connect with online. Ultimately, this doesn’t help us achieve our life goals, make meaningful relationships, or improve our mental and physical well-being. In order to change this habit, we must look into the triggers. In other words, we should make friends who are close by and accessible, have hobbies that keep us busy, spend time with family and friends, and connect with good peers and mentors who will have a positive influence on us and help us achieve our goals. Let me show you some easy tips to help develop good habits.
How to Determine a Bad Habit?
Find the trigger and address it. Usually, it is an emotion that you need to look into.
Figure out your response to the trigger. What do you do? It’s usually negative.
How do you feel and is it really helpful in the long run? It’s usually not helpful.
The Process to Create a Good Habit:
Identify the trigger and address it. (ex: if you are stressed, remove the cause for stress)
Change your response to the trigger.
Choose a reward that is good for you in the long term.
How to Practice a Good Habit?
Create a schedule.
Stick to it for a good 90 days (it takes several weeks to build a good habit)
Avoid distractions and if unavoidable sometimes, gently come back to practicing the new habit.
“If you quit once it becomes a habit. Never quit!” - Michael Jordan
Remember, bad habits cannot be destroyed but they can always be rewired into good habits. Learning good habits is not an easy feat, as it takes patience, practice, and consistency to make it a natural part of your life. When we practice good habits, we are destined to see powerful positive changes in us.
What 3 good habits do you want to create in the next 90 days? Like Aristotle said, “Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.”
Developing a growth mindset?
Being highly productive?
Try and share your thoughts, struggles and successes below!