11 Tips for Erasing Bad Habits

Achieving Success Beyond Surgery can be tougher than it has to be if you continually give in to your old, bad habits. They are, in fact, part of what put you where you are today! Bad habits have a profoundly negative effect on your life, and we know we need to change them, right?

But habits can be challenging to change since they aren’t ordinarily based on thoughtful choices…that makes it difficult to use logic to change your behavior. Conquering (and eliminating) bad habits requires a multi-faceted approach.

If you haven’t been able to shake your bad habits with what you’ve tried in the past, try one or more of these tips to get you on the road to freedom:

  1. Give it consistent effort for a month. In 21 – 28 days you can eliminate a bad habit and create a new, positive habit. Do your very best for at least 21 to 28 days. If you backslide after that period, it’s likely that your strategy is lacking, but don’t give up – analyze what went wrong, what you could do better, and try again!
  2. Replace your bad habit with something healthy and positive. It’s almost impossible to just drop a bad habit and not replace what you’ve lost – especially if this habit has been with you for quite some time. Think about what your bad habit gives you (the emotional, physical or psychic “kick”) and find a replacement that provides the same kind and level of benefit. Replace the benefit or it will be a constant battle to avoid backsliding into your old, negative habit.
  3. Deal with one challenge at a time. For example, don’t try to completely overhaul your diet, exercise, spending, and smoking habits all at once. Pick one; give it your all for 21 to 28 days, then add another one once you’re used to not having the first bad habit and have created a new, positive groove.

You don’t have to be in a hurry – it takes time to undo what may have been YEARS in the making. Consider what it would mean if you could just get replace your 4 worst habits with new, positive ones! That’s only 4 months away. Comparatively speaking, that’s FAST, considering that they’ve likely been a part of your life for a long time.

  1. Approach the process like a scientist. Leave the big emotional struggle for someone else and look at the situation dispassionately. Have an attitude of affirming that you CAN replace the habit. Visualize and describe to yourself how it might turn out; Be curious and use the perspective of doing an experiment. There’s less drama and bias that way.
  2. Remove your triggers. For example, get the junk food out of the house. If you smoke, stay away from the places you always smoked or could be exposed to excessive smoke. Habits don’t have a lot of thought behind them – they’re almost like reflexes. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way.
  3. Avoid being too hard on yourself. It might take a few tries to get the new habit to stick. Just take a few moments to analyze what went right, what you can do to improve your approach and keep on going.
  4. Remind yourself. It’s easy to forget to perform your new habit. If you’re going to start exercising every day, set up some reminders – put the exercise DVD in the player before you go to bed, lay out your workout clothes, etc. If you’re going to floss, leave the floss out where you can see it.
  5. Tell your friends. Your friends, family and co-workers may be able to help you reach your goal. Ask specific people to say something to reinforce your new good habits if they see you “falling off the wagon”. Allow them to help keep you accountable to sticking with your plans – get all the help that you can, and be careful about who you enlist to be on your team.
  6. Be consistent. If you’re going to start exercising regularly, try to do it each day at the same time – even if the total duration is not the same, doing it at the same time everyday creates a “groove” in your brain, and you may even find yourself waking up at just the right time to accomplish your new routine. Exercising every day can be much easier than trying to exercise 3 times a week – that “day off” in between can be a real challenge! Try to do your replacement habit daily.
  7. Remember the pain. Each day, ask yourself what it will mean if you don’t stop indulging in your bad habit. Visualize the likely negative outcome and attach an emotion to it. Reinforcing it with a negative emotion will help you remember to avoid experiencing it again.
  8. Focus on the pleasure. Every day, ask yourself what it will mean if you eliminate or replace your bad habit. Visualize the likely outcome of this scenario and attach an emotion to IT, as well. Really LIVE in the moment when you’ve completed the action or accomplished the task.

Bad habits can  really put the brakes on your progress. Use the tips above to give yourself a great opportunity to eliminate your bad habits and replace them with positive and healthy habits. There’s no better feeling than knowing you have control over your life – and by following the tips above, that feeling can be as little as 21 to 28 days away!