How to Break a Bad Habit

Motivation is fleeting. There is not a single soul on Planet Earth who is perpetually motivated, regardless of what social media may have you believe. The key to staying motivated is to have consistent routines that are on autopilot that eliminate the choice/the opportunity for you to decide not to do something.

Enter, habits. When you can make your necessary routines habitual, you make the necessary shifts + changes in your life so that you can’t and don’t fall victim to chance.

The book "Atomic Habits"  states that we can basically be in two states of “productivity”: motion and action.  Motion might feel productive, but it’s really not – it’s an in-between period of “research” or “preparation” that keeps us feeling motivated + productive without actually moving the needle significantly. Action brings about more significant change in something – it’s more than just “busy work.”

We have to look at ALL habits in our lives and then figure out what they’re bringing about. Take a week to write down everything you do and keep it super detailed to find out what your habits are. We can have habits that are so ingrained we don't even realize we have them!

Habits in general are cyclical, and it all comes down to the brain. There’s a CUE: something that triggers your brain to engage in a behavior. Next, there’s a craving: you now have a desire to change your internal state – we don’t actually crave the habit, but the change in STATE it brings. Then, there’s a response. This is the actual habit. Finally, there’s a reward, which is whatever the end goal of any habit is.

If any of these four things DON’T happen or AREN’T in place, the habit won’t happen, either. Noticing your own patterns is what helps you identify bad habits in the first place, so how to break a bad habit can come next.

So, how do we break bad habits? It's all about inverting the four laws of behavior change. The four laws are what help us create + keep GOOD habits, so turning them on their heads is the proven scientific way to reverse habits

Make it invisible: reduce your exposure to the CUE, or trigger. Sometimes this means changing your environment, for instance, taking a different route to work if you’re trying to avoid the corner donut shop,

Make it unattractive. This comes down alot to your mindset. If you can show yourself all of the benefits of avoiding the bad habit, it helps cut it once and for all.

Make it difficult. Make it harder to actually access or do the habit.

Make it unsatisfying. Sometimes you just need someone watching over your shoulder to cut the cord; get an accountability partner or make a habit contract so that actually doing the bad habit has painful, embarrassing, or public consequences.

Once you've broken your bad habits, you can start replacing them with good habits.

If you'd like to read Atomic Habits, I highly recommend it! Click the link to find the book!

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