Do you feel like your life is not going according to your plan or not going in the direction you want to take it in? And do you ever feel like you’re stuck in the same place and nothing’s really changing for you?
Well, the thing is, nothing really changes, unless we change our behaviours and patterns and habits. If we continue the same habits that we’ve always had, our life will pretty much look the same after years and we’d still have similar struggles.
Our lives are a result of the habits we do everyday over a period of time. So if I continue wasting my time on Netflix, and procrastinating my actual work, I’ll never get on top of it. If I keep planning, but fail to execute, I will never achieve my goals, no matter how good of a planner I am.
That’s why in order to improve your life, you need to take proper action. And because our old habits / behaviours are some times so deeply rooted, these changes can be super hard to make.
Whenever you’re trying to improve your life, you’d have to adopt new good habits but also break away from bad ones. And so often, quitting bad habits just seems tougher than adopting new ones.
So if you have any toxic habits as well, that are keeping you down, then this post is for you. We’re talking about how you can break bad habits easily, in a month. When I say “easily”, I simply mean it’s going to be relatively easy if you understand the framework we’re going to discuss.
- Acknowledge your bad habits:
- Write down how these habits are sabotaging your life:
- Recognise your triggers/patterns:
- Think about good habits to replace them with:
- Change your narrative:
- Make an action plan & do the work too:
- Let your inner circle know & ask for support when needed:
- Use a habit tracker and Set rewards:
- Make a plan to get back on track:
Acknowledge your bad habits:
The very first step to quitting bad habits is to acknowledge that you have these bad habits. Any self improvement journey starts with you being fully aware of where you stand right now. So many times, we’re in denial that we have these bad habits.
We eat junk food and make excuses like ” Oh but I am really busy with work” , or that ” I don’t eat out that often” until you’re doing so every other day. And then you wonder why you’re gaining weight or why you feel so low on energy.
Accepting that you have these bad habits and that you need to change is first step towards improving your life. Don’t be too hard on yourself though. Give yourself grace. Do not pull yourself down for the mistakes you’ve made in the past or how your habits that sabotaged your life. Focus on what you can do right now.
Because the present is all you have and you can decide at any point of time that you want to change your life for good. You can take control over your life and create a dream life, starting now. it’s all about habits and routines and being consistent with them.
And accepting your mistakes or bad habits is such a brave thing to do. Having bad habits is not a sign of weakness. Wanting to change and wanting to break bad habits shows that you are already stronger than them.
Write down how these habits are sabotaging your life:
You need to have full acceptance and understanding of how these bad habits are affecting your life. You’ve acknowledged what bad habits you have right now. But I highly recommend writing down how these bad habits actually affect you.
Like everyone knows that eating junk food is bad. But how it affects everyone is different. Write down the impact these bad habits have for you. Writing it down is so important because when you journal, you’ll realise that the impact can be far more than what you see on the superficial level.
For example: “Having junk food is making you unhealthy” is common knowledge and it is the impact that anyone can see on a surface level. But when you journal, it looks something like this:
Eating junk food every other day & making unhealthy choices > Unhealthy body & Mind > Low self esteem > impacts how you approach social situations > Impacts your relationships > Impacts the energy you have on a daily basis > Impacts how productive you are during your work day > Impacts self confidence and how you present yourself > Impacts your finances
So you see why writing it all down is so important. You get to understand how these bad habits are actually affecting your life and thus you’ll be even more motivated to make the changes and quit bad habits.
Recognise your triggers/patterns:
So you KNOW what bad habits you have and which bad habits you want to quit. Next important step is recognising your patterns and behaviours. Getting an understanding of why you fall into these bad habits is important.
It will come in handy when you’re trying to make actual changes. Because making these changes can be hard and sometimes you’ve have to physically take yourself away from triggers.
Of course that’s not always possible. But understanding your triggers is important.
So write down a bad habits you have and all the potential things that trigger that behaviour.
For example: “I eat a lot of unhealthy food and get takeouts every other day” is a bad habit. Your triggers could be:
- Not having time to cook because you don’t have a healthy work life balance.
- Getting takeouts because you’d rather binge watch Netflix than cook
- You eat unhealthy because you go out with friends every other day
- You feel too tired to think about what to make
- You never have any groceries or produce to cook any food
- You don’t know how to cook
This is just an example of course. You could have different triggers. They key is understanding why you have these bad habits and what triggers them. Because when you understand where it roots from, only then can you make the change, that is sustainable.
Of course you can take up challenges to quit a habit for a month or so. But if you do not understand the root of the problem, it may eventually come back.
Think about good habits to replace them with:
Whenever trying to break a bad habit, it’s highly recommended that you replace it with a good one. That makes it easier to quit the bad habit. So if you’re trying to quit junk food you have as a snack, try replacing it with eating fruits.
The thing about starting good habits is that you feel good when you do them. So when you’re trying to replace bad habits with good ones, it is important to change your mindset first. You will have the same triggers around you(for the most part), but how you react to them can be different.
So for example : let’s say you eat junk food whenever you’re feeling stressed. It means that being in a stressful situation is a trigger and your response is reaching for junk food/snacks. But done over a period of time (considering we’re all in stressful situations every now and then), it could become a habit.
And while you’re making a conscious choice to eat a snack when stressed, once it becomes a habit, it comes naturally to you, like you’re on auto pilot. And the thing with eating junk is that it doesn’t stop there. It cascades into other areas and other feelings too.
So you eat junk food, it affects you health, you blame yourself for not being able to diet and you create an unhealthy relationship with food.
But, what if you could be more mindful of your triggers. So whenever you are feeling stressed, acknowledge the feeling first. Say to yourself “okay I am stressed for this reason”. And once you acknowledge that trigger, you can select a proper response.
Maybe you can go for a walk, go for a chatty lunch with a dear friend, play with your pet. In simple terms, you can develop a “good habit” by being more mindful. And the thing about good habits is, that they cascade too, just like bad habits.
So you go for a long walk, you feel fresh, motivated and you come back and look at things from a fresh perspective. You decide how the situation affects you and you take control.
Change your narrative:
Whenever you are trying to quit a bad habit or adopt a new one, it requires you to change your narrative. How you talk to yourself, matters. So if you’re constantly saying “Oh I can never do this” or “I am simply too lazy to workout” or that “I eat an entire bag of chips whenever stressed”, you’re signalling your brain that this is indeed the person you still are. And you probably are not capable of changing.
You see our thoughts often become our reality because that’s just how powerful our minds are. So if you keep affirming limiting beliefs, you will never be able to break through them. And that’s crucial if you want to level up your life and make long term changes.
That’s where narrative comes in.
And here is what you can do to change your narrative:
- Whenever talking about yourself having bad habits, always use past tense. Even if you have not quit it yet. So instead of saying ” I eat an entire bag of chips when stressed”, say ” I used to be a person who’d eat an entire bag of chips when stressed, but I am not that person anymore”.
- Use affirmations in the mornings or night, whenever you feel like. They are super impactful when it comes to breaking limiting beliefs because sometimes we just need a daily reminder.
- When talking about narrative, it’s not just limited to self talk. Sometimes you need to correct others around you too. So if someone is constantly underestimating you or doubting you, do not feed their thoughts. I am not saying you can control what people think/say about you, but you sure can disagree. And it’s especially important if it’s something close to you that you spend a lot of time with.
Make an action plan & do the work too:
So you know the bad habits you have, you know the triggers and you know which good habits do you want to replace them with. But your work is not done yet. Now you need an action plan to break these bad habits.
It really is as simple as reacting differently to the trigger. But in execution, it is going to be a lot difficult to do. For example: You eat out a lot or get take outs and it’s affecting your health. But you did a self analysis and found out that your biggest trigger for the same is that you don’t know how to cook. And that’s fair.
So in order to avoid eating out as much, you KNOW that you need to learn to cook. And even though that’s not an easy thing to do, but at least you know what “the solution” is supposed to look like.
So maybe your action plan can look something like learning simple and quick breakfast and dinner recipes and trying out a few every week. There are tons of recipes on Pinterest and detailed cooking videos on Youtube as well. So all you need to do is give it a try. So you make it a goal to try 3 recipes for breakfast and 3 for dinner in a week.
Now, in order to be successful in doing the same, here is how you can break it down:
- Look for recipes online and shortlist the ones that you’re going to try. Either bookmark the pages/blogs or simply print out for easy access.
- Go grocery shopping on the weekend, so you have all the ingredients available and not having the ingredients doesn’t become an excuse.
- Wake up a little earlier than usual to have time to make breakfast.
These are the steps that will get you closer to your goal. You see how these are very simple to execute. Of course this is just an example, but you can make a similar action plan for whatever you want to do and that just makes it easier to execute.
Let your inner circle know & ask for support when needed:
Whenever you’re trying to quit a bad habit, it is a great idea to let your inner circle know. So tell your partner, close friends or family that you’re trying to make these changes. And also let them know what you expect from them in terms of support.
Like when you are trying to eat healthy, it really helps when your close ones are not constantly asking you to eat more. OR if they aren’t telling to have at least one bite of the cake.
And if they want they can even start the healthy lifestyle with you and make these changes as a family. I found it really helpful because it was just me and my husband and when you both want to eat healthier, it becomes so much easier to grocery shop and meal plan too.
Use a habit tracker and Set rewards:
Whenever trying to build a new habit or trying to quit a bad one, habit trackers come in really handy. And you can even do habit trackers even if you are not a Bullet Journal person. Of course bullet journalling makes it easier as you have a journalling routine and you can fill it in everyday.
Even if you do not have a Bullet journal, you can simply make a habit tracker on a piece of paper and stick it where you see it everyday. It serves as a reminder and also to of course, track your habits. You can visually see if you have missed a habit or more than 2 days in a row. And then make it a point to not miss it on day 3 and so on.
It is also really important to set rewards for yourself and celebrate wins, no matter how small they may seem. You have to be your own biggest cheerleader in life. Sometimes, getting a coffee at your favourite cafe is all you need to keep going. So set rewards for yourself whenever you keep at a good habit for a week or whenever you stay away from a bad habit for a week. These small rewards can really motivate you.
When I was trying to lose weight, I set rewards for myself for reaching a particular weight. And in retrospect, even though it worked out well for me, but rewards shouldn’t depend on the number on the scale. I have since learned that it is important that you reward the work that you put in and not necessarily the outcome of it.
So I set rewards for being consistent for a week or two weeks. So I will reward myself if I have worked out consistently for two weeks, no matter what the. number on the scale is. And it has helped me have a more positive relationship with workouts as well.
Not something that you absolutely need to do, but definitely something that helps.
Make a plan to get back on track:
Quitting bad habits is not easy. And your journey to quit will not look linear. A lot of the times people start a healthy lifestyle, but then fall off the track in a week or so. And while it would be great if you could just stay on track, that doesn’t always happen.
I have a rule too, to not miss doing a good habit for more than 2 days in row. Or to fall back into a bad habit for more than 2 days in a row. And that really helps.
But the thing is, we are all human. We occasionally fall off track.
But what’s important is that we get back on track as soon as possible. And having a plan really helps. For me, whenever I am trying to eat healthier and happen to fall off track, the plan to get back looks like:
- Go grocery and fresh produce shopping
- Make a healthy meal plan for the week
- Do basic meal prep over the weekend
And all these things help me to make my meals quickly on a daily basis and thus eating healthier becomes easy. So having a plan to get back, is also quite helpful.
And that’s it for this post. I hope you find these tips helpful. Breaking bad habits is not easy, but I believe in you. You CAN break bad habits if you set your mind to it. It certainly won’t be a linear journey and that’s okay. give yourself grace and carry on. See you in the next one! 🙂