7 Tips in Changing a Habit

Changing a Habit can be Fearful Experience


How a Habit Forms

Have you ever uttered this words to yourself? “I can’t stop my bad habits no matter what I do.” Well congratulations, you are normal. Every person has behavior, emotions or thoughts they do automatically. Habits become so comfortable even though they are overwhelming or even destructive. Seems anymore no one is satisfied with where they are in life due to their habits which seem to over take them.

The longer you practice a habit the more normal they become.

Everyone wants or desires to change. We want to change how we think, where we live, how we feel, who we are, where we work, how much money we have and much more. So what is stopping us?

Believe it or not it maybe our habits that stand in our way. We all have habits, good or bad. We that our habits help us function and deal with positive and negative life situations. The problem is that once locked into a habit or sets of habits, our denial sets in. At that point, our repetitive behavior patterns are almost impossible to change.

So if the behaviors are not productive to ourselves and our lives, why do we continue to repeat them?

The difficulty with habits is that they form readily and sometimes subconsciously. Whether the habit is good or bad. For many people a habit mean safety, consistency and stability.

On the other hand the thought of changing a habit feels risky and unsafe. Developing a new habit is not an easy or comfortable process. All of us tend to get stuck in a comfort zone even if it is uncomfortable, doesn't serve, painful or restricting. Yet it doesn't stop us from wanting change.

The initial difficulty with changing or eliminating a habit is the process is initially always a fearful and uncomfortable experience.

The second difficulty is that majority of people are neither knowledgeable nor skillful in the art of changing old habits or implanting a new positive habits.


First of all in order to interrupt an old destructive habit you must have a strong understanding of what a habit is. Simply a habit is something you repeated automatically without any effort or intent. A habit is an attitude, behavior, belief, emotion, thought, or substance you repeat over and over again until you do perform it without thinking, second nature. Habit formation is produced by a continuous duplication of a reaction to a specific situational trigger or a measurable amount of positive stimuli. Habit is so deeply ingrained in your subconscious that executing it is effortless and routine.

5 Steps to change an old habit

First step in changing an old destructive habit is to recognize it. Recognizing acknowledges that the habit no longer has any power and influence over you anymore. It ceases to be unknown. After recognizing that the habit does not serve you, is destructive or has become toxic, it becomes time to decide if it needs and you are willing to change it or not. Also are you ready to put in the effort into changing it and able to commit to the change?

The second step is to identify why you are holding on to the old habit even though the habit is detrimental and not serving you at all. Identify how uncomfortable the habit has become or maybe even destructive. Recognition tends to help you take the power out of a bad habit.

Sometimes if you have a destructive habit which has not impacted your life enough your desire to change it probably will not materialize. Indecisiveness maybe fear of moving out of a comfort zone, even though painful. So you continue to repeat the same old habit no matter how bad it is to your life.

Third step is the hardest. Ask yourself these questions.

Do you have the desire and willingness to stop the destructive or toxic habit?

Are you willing to muster up the energy and strength to break the bad habit?

As your desire to change increases then the power of your old habit loses being comfortable, influence and safety. For example when a person has a substance habit. Once the person recognizes the substance is toxic to him or her. From that point on the substance is never the same again. Cravings reduce, awareness increases, consequences are more readily conscious and denial begins to slip away.

Fourth step determine what new specific positive habit you would like to develop to replace the old destructive habit that is to be eliminated. Then create an action plan.

Fifth step is to set up support system to support you to become accountable to your action plan. The support system will help and encourage you to stick to your action plan. Everyone needs a coach or cheerleader supporting and you are no exception. Don’t keep your plan a secret and attempt to do everything alone. It take a community to break a habit.

New Ideas in Developing a New, Positive or Productive Habit

Wanting to form a new habit? You initially have to understand why you formed it and what it does for you.

Just extracting or eliminating an old habit is not the whole or complete answer toward improving your life. When you only take an old habit away you will be left with a feeling of emptiness or being deprived of something. No one does well with a feeling of emptiness or a thought of having something taken from you. Therefore the emptiness or thinking someone is depriving you of something is a great reason or excuse for not stopping a destructive habit. Actually ignoring is not a good solution either.

What is the answer? During the process of eradicating of an old habit, you must immediately replace it with the new habit you want to acquire. If you take away a non-serving habit and don't replace it with something else the feeling of emptiness becomes overwhelming.

Here is a couple more ideas to think about which will help you make a strategy to accomplish a habit change you want.

Shift into a new mindset

To move out of one habit into another you should discover the attitude or mindset you have had toward your old habit. Why have you been holding on even though your old habit was uncomfortable, maybe even painful? A mindset is a fixed attitude or belief. Mindsets can become so rigid over time that the thought of letting go bring up so many worries and makes it almost impossible to change. One way to alter your mindset is make sure that you are passionate and excited about your new habit. If you are not passionate or excited about what you are about to do then your motivation will wane very quickly, fail at embedding your new habit and return to the old one.

Quality verses Quantity

The common view about forming a new habit is based on quality. Nothing can be further from the truth. Forming a new habit is about, as Nike says, “just doing it.” Focusing on quality can cause you to go into the wrong direction. Focusing on quality can get you into an issue of “doing the desired habit good enough”. Quality can halt you from accomplishing what you want because you begin to judging and analyzing your performance or what you are doing right or wrong. Then you stop the process because you become disappointed. Therefore you think you can’t do it “right” so you abandon what you want to change and go back to what was comfortable, the old habit.

Rather you should focus on quantity. Quantity should be a higher priority than quality. Quantity leads in time to higher quality. The shorter route to forming a habit is by maximizing quantity through repetition. Performing the desired habit consistently through regular and constant practice will help to achieved discipline and desired new habit. Over time with daily conscious practice a new habit can be embedded between 60 to 90 days. Quantity results in a higher skill level or improved quality.

Why does consistent practice work? Let’s put this idea into physical training concept. To strengthen a muscle group you perform a targeted exercise for the group of muscles and perform that exercise for a specific number of repetitions. This means you lift the weight over and over for a number of times in a day and then do the same thing the next day. The focus is not on how well you do the reps but that you do them. The more you do the exercise the more the muscle grow gets use to it and strength is increased. The same is true about forming a new habit. Adjusting, installing or getting comfortable with a new action is a day to day process over time. Nothing changes or forms overnight.

A great writer is not made by writing one book, it is accomplished by writing a lot of books. A quarterback does not become great passer with one throw, he becomes great by the amount of practice he puts in throwing a lot of passes every day. A dancer becomes recognized not by one performance but by dancing day after day. To change a habit you have to do the new action many times, time after time before the quality can be acquired.

What does research say about developing a new habit?

1. An action, behavior, belief, emotion, reaction or thought becomes an automatic habit after 66 days of doing something on average.

2. The subconscious mind rebels against big changes, but you can persuade your subconscious through gradual stages over time.

3. Through constant practice or repetition the new desired action become less uncomfortable and more natural.

So to form, install and become comfortable with a new habit, it is not how well you do an action you want to acquire, it is how many you times you do it day after day for an extended period. Most importantly be very conscious and do not perform the old habit for any reason.

You can Change a Negative Habit to Positive Habit

Changing habits changes your life.
Changing habits changes your life. | Source

7 Tips on how to create a new positive habit

Follow all the 7 tips below in order to create a new habit.

Tip #1

Pick the old habit that is detrimental to you and you would like to change.

Tip #2

Determine what your attitude has been toward the old habit you intend to change. Then answer why your attitude toward that habit has been so comfortable. Even though in reality it has probably been uncomfortable, painful, if not possibly toxic.

Tip #3

Create a new habit and focus on how you would like it to take form. Concentrate on the positive alternative rather than avoiding the negative old habit. Spend you energy and attention creating the new habit which will serve you better. Think about it this way, if you attempt to avoid or ignore something you end up thinking about it or doing it even more and you become unable to stop thinking about it.

Tip #4

Visualize the habit in your mind you want to become comfortable. Understand that if you can envision yourself doing the habit and it becomes more comfortable in your mind. Then adapting to the new habit will be much easier. Do not allow yourself to feel overwhelmed mentally. Keep your sight set on completing your vision.

Tip #5

Consistency is most important - make a contract with yourself (or an accountability partner) to practice that intended habit every day for 5 minutes – create a daily schedule for the next 60 to 90 days.

Tip #6 Set up a support system. Don’t keep your intention to change a secret. It becomes so much easier to stop working on forming a new habit if no one knows what you are attempting to achieve.

Tip #7

Reward yourself at the end of each week for succeeding, then at the conclusion of the first 30 days and finally at the conclusion of your 90 days.

Concentrate on development of positive alternative and results and do not attempting to ignore or avoiding the negative habit.

Success in positive habit formation comes when you can remain focused, consistent, determined and passionate.

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Comments 5 comments

denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

This is excellent advice! I have used this method to develop positive habits in my own life, and it has been very successful. I like the part that says not to concentrate on "quality" but rather on "quantity." I know people who have done just the opposite, and abandoned the new habit before it was established due to frustration and disappointment, as they could not live up to their own unrealistic expectations.

Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 2 years ago from Southwest Florida Author


Thank you for your comments.

I like your important comment on unrealistic expectations. You are right on point.

To accomplish a new habit you need to practice not get caught up in "how well" you are doing an action.

KoraleeP profile image

KoraleeP 2 years ago from Vernon British Columbia Canada

Excellent advice! The best step for me is consistency. It can be so easy to think you should give up when you miss your habit changing activity for a day.

About six weeks ago I started a new habit, of walking Sierra (a dog) for 30 minutes a day. So far I've only missed about 2 days. But, perhaps I'm cheating with this habit because she's a little pushy about going for the walk lol.

I recently heard of the term accountability partner when I signed up to Primoz Bozic's blog about productivity. That's a really great idea, although I still haven't done it lol.

But, I have a question. I've always heard it takes 21 - 28 days to change a habit, but am I confusing it with starting a habit?

KoraleeP profile image

KoraleeP 2 years ago from Vernon British Columbia Canada

Hey, I just realized I inadvertently lied...I do have an accountability partner (Sierra the dog), which makes me realize how useful an accountability partner is even more. I should focus on that, especially since I'm breaking into internet marketing for myself, not doing all the work for others.

Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 2 years ago from Southwest Florida Author


Thank you for reading this HUB and your comments.

To form a habit is takes over thirty days of doing something everyday to get embedded in your mind and probably another 30 days to embed the behavior pattern.

With dogs they form a routine very fast.

Thanks again and I hope you follow me. Blessings

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