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Bad Habits - How to Say Goodbye to Them

Updated on December 31, 2013
Picking your nose in public is a bad habit
Picking your nose in public is a bad habit | Source

You Don't Have to Keep Doing Things the Same Old Way

Habits are the things we do the same way time after time. Our lives are a web of habits, some good, some bad. Some habits we do with intent, and others we just do them without really being aware of them.The way you drive to work each day (even though there may be many different routes), the order you do the household chores, the way you answer the phone, are all habits but not ones we need to necessarily change.

When we think about the word HABIT it might conjure up images such as, picking your nose, or biting your nails, habits that are often done without us even being aware of doing them and are difficult to stop. These are the ones we most likely want to be rid of.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines habit as: A usual way of behaving: Something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way: A strong need to use a drug, to smoke cigarettes, etc.

Not All Habits Are The Same.

Some habits are triggered by environment. To give you an example, you are at a social event where you feel nervous and there is alcohol....mmm this drink will make me feel relaxed because it has helped me in other situations, you think to yourself. One drink becomes six and well lets just say the morning comes and you struggle to remember what happened the night before. This habit, although a more conscious one is one of the most difficult to break. Another example might be having difficulty walking past a bakery every day without going in to buy a pie. You know that eating pies everyday is not a good thing but you just can't seem to stop yourself and even though you could avoid it by walking the long way your will power doesn't seem to be strong enough.

Drinking Alcohol Can Become a Habit


Creating New Habits and Changing Old Ones

If you have more than one habit that you would like to rid yourself of, and to be honest most people do, by starting with just one the others can be effectively dealt with as well.

When a habit is formed, decision making surrounding the habit goes out the window and focus is diverted to other things. In order to change the habit you have to make a decision to argue with it by presenting your mind with alternatives, effectively taking control of the habit. In this way a good habit can replace a bad one.


Exercise is a good example. It is a lot easier and more relaxing to sit in front of the television every afternoon than it is to go for a jog right?

You might have thought about starting an exercise routine but you don't make the effort. For the meantime the rewards for not exercising are enjoyable. From personal experience I loved kicking my shoes off, pouring a glass of wine, nibbling on some cheese, spicy salami and potato chips, flopping on the couch and waiting until my husband arrived home. However over time I had to admit (and my hubby pointed out...ouch!!) I was gaining weight. My clothes were getting tight and I was steadily becoming more unhealthy from being a sloth and every session on the couch increased my wine and nibbles intake. I decided the reward for not exercising wasn't really working for me anymore. I went 'cold turkey', dusted the cobwebs off my runners and started jogging.

Once the reward is changed then actions will follow. My mind argued that it wanted a new reward as a slimmer and healthier me, and then the action to achieve it became possible. Motivation kicked in and I was literally off and running. The other bad habits of unhealthy eating also changed, so did the time on the couch and watching too much television. The bad habit cycle has been broken and replaced with a new and healthy one.



Momentum must continue for a period of time, some say 21 days, before the new routine becomes a habit. So you might need to be patient with yourself. And if you have an off day or go backwards don't beat yourself up. Some people I know have tried a few times at least to give up smoking before they have had success. The act of trying declares you are at least willing to try and change or get rid of the habit. Don't compare your own achievement to others, remember we are all different and some habits are just harder to budge than others.

Fast Food Can Quickly Become a Bad Habit

Corporations know how to get consumers to form habits
Corporations know how to get consumers to form habits | Source

Habits Can Sneak Up On You

Even without our permission habits are formed.

Corporations spend big money on investigating triggers to consumer behaviour. Ever wondered why all McDonalds stores look the same inside and out and the staff all ask the same questions? they are designed to trigger a familiar routine, a habit in your mind that kicks in whenever you drive past a store and even though you may not be particularly hungry or have decided to eat at home, the habitual behaviour has already been triggered and the only way out is to argue with it.

This takes practice but more that that, it takes perseverance and a want to change.

Business Habits and Change

Research has proven that it's not only individuals who are capable, and benefit from changing or deleting habits, large companies have found success as well. More now than ever before, we as consumers demand and expect, an enjoyable experience from the moment we enter a store, be it a physical or online shop, and we have the power to pass the quality of the experience on to friends, family and complete strangers. Social media has changed the way we look for and conduct business. It goes without saying that modern companies have had to change the way they have done business in the past, and for some the changes may have been challenging. Just think how different customer service, transport, logistics, and manufacturing is today compared to fifty years ago. Refusing to change, refusing to give up old habits equals stagnation.

Even if things work relatively well, using outdated habits in business doesn't allow creativity to flow and new ideas to flourish. Workers can become bored and unproductive so therefore letting go of old habits is a move in the right direction.

Bad Habits - Billy Field

How Do You Deal With Your Bad Habits?

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Worth It In The End

There are lots of things we do every day that have developed into habits, but changing the way we do those things (good habits) can help keep our brain active. Like finding a new way to walk or drive to work, swapping your knife and fork when eating, or writing with your opposite hand. has some suggestions and exercises for stimulating your brains' nerve cells.

If you have an inkling that some of your habits need changing or discarding, why not try today. What do you have to lose?You can do it if you really want to, just give it a go. Try firstly incorporating a new and desirable habit into your day. Get the feel for how habits are formed and then try giving up, or changing an undesirable habit.. You and your behavior is not set in stone, its up to you to create a better version of yourself. Have fun!

TEDxTalks - Starting With Tiny Habits


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