We all have bad habits. I, for one, could go on and on about all of the bad habits I have developed over the years. But to save both of us the time and energy, let’s just say that it’s too many to count.
As everyone knows and has experienced firsthand, bad habits are incredibly challenging to break. It almost feels as though most of the habits we develop are bad. Despite our good intentions, good habits are challenging to maintain and bad habits are relatively easy to adopt.
Have you ever asked yourself why this is? Why are bad habits hard to break? And once we know the answer, how do we actually go about breaking these bad habits?
What Are Bad Habits Hard To Break?
First, we adopt bad habits primarily because they are easier to maintain than good habits.
It’s easier to go through a drive-thru and order a greasy burger than it is to go to the grocery store, pick out a healthy and balanced meal, and then go home to cook that meal.
It’s easier to smoke or drink our stress away than it is to actually face a problem or a challenge head-on.
It’s easier to hit the snooze button just one (or ten) more time than it is to get out of bed and exercise before heading off to work.
You get the idea, we adapt to bad habits because in some way or another, they make our lives easier. It’s more “convenient” for us to follow these habits than it is to try and change them.
But after a while of developing these bad habits, they start to become part of our identity. The ease of going through a drive-thru prevents us from ever cooking meals at home. The relief we get from smoking or drinking will always be our scapegoat for when we feel stressed or under pressure. The more we hit the snooze button, the more we miss workouts, and the more wee miss workouts, the more we forget that working out is ever an option.
Bad habits are hard to break because once we develop them, they become apart of us. It’s how we see ourselves. We start to identify ourselves as someone who only goes to the drive-thru, a smoker, a drinker, or someone who hasn’t worked out in ages so what’s the point of starting now.
What we fail to realize is that the longer we go down this rabbit hole of identifying ourselves with these negative habits, the more control they are going to have over our lives.
How Do You Break Bad Habits?
It’s not easy. If it were easy, nobody would have any bad habits that needed to be broken. But, make no mistake, any bad habit can be broken, and it starts with you.
To break any bad habit, one must first change their identity and who they want to become. Do you want to be a healthy individual? Perfect, then you should see yourself as being a healthy individual. When you focus on your identity, it makes it easier to take the necessary action that will lead to that identity.
Where most of us go wrong with this process is that we first look at what actions we will need to take in order to change our identity. Have you ever wanted to change something and start by thinking of the process you will have to go through instead of thinking how it will benefit your life moving forward? Yeah, most of us have, and thinking about all that we have to do to change our habits is enough to stop us from even taking action.
Use the habit of getting healthier as an example. If your goal is to lose weight and you only focus on the hours upon hours you are going to have to devote to exercising, odds are you aren’t going to stick to the habit of becoming healthier.
Instead, if you focus on the end goal of wanting to become healthier and use that image to motivate you, you will be more likely to commit to that change. Why? Because you are changing your identity and identifying yourself as a healthier individual. The more you do that, the stronger that identity becomes.
How To Change Bad Habits
While changing bad habits isn’t going to be easy, it also isn’t as difficult as you may think it is. If you want to change bad habits, there are two steps you must take.
- Know who it is you want to become.
- Start working towards becoming that ideal person and track your wins until you become the person you envision yourself becoming.
What does this look like? Here are some examples.
Do you want to lose weight?
Identity: Identify yourself as a person who exercises regularly and eats a healthy diet.
Wins: Start by having a goal of getting out and walking around the block once. Tomorrow, walk around the block twice. As you progress, start tracking your distance and keep adding to that distance day after day.
Do you want to become a happier and more positive individual?
Identity: Start identifying yourself as someone who is already happy and positive – not someone who is trying to become happy and positive.
Wins: Go out of your way to do something nice for others at least once a day. When you do, write down or take note of how you feel. If you do this, you will be able to change a lot of lives and will become happier as a result of doing so.
Before You Go
The objective is to change how you identify yourself before worrying about how you are going to change your habits. When you change your identity, your actions to reflect your new identity will fall into place and you will have a much easier time maintaining that identity.
If you have difficulty breaking bad habits, give this a try. Start shaping your identity and seeing yourself as the person you want to become instead of allowing your already existing bad habits to determine how you identify yourself.