How to get rid of bad habits without making an effort
How to get rid of bad habits without making an effort

More than 40% of all actions per day we perform automatically. And many of them are not good for us. It seems that getting rid of bad habits is very difficult. But there are secrets that can help you break the vicious circle with ease.

How to get rid of bad habits without making an effort
How to get rid of bad habits without making an effort

1. Change only one bad habit

Sometimes it seems to you that your whole life is a collection of bad habits, and you finally understand that the time has come to change everything. Yes, starting tomorrow. You hold on for a while, then you say: "Once does not count." And then you break down.

Try to start small: focus on one habit at a time. Gradually, you will be able to get rid of everyone.

Charles Duhigg, in his book, advises thinking of change as a long-term project. If you try to change all your habits at once, chances are good that things will get out of hand very quickly. Right now, you may be frustrated by the fact that it will take eight to nine months to get rid of bad habits. But think about what a huge impact this will have on your entire future life. It's worth spending a month to change one habit. You will benefit from this for decades to come.

You don't need to radically change your life. Just get rid of one bad habit. Give yourself a month for this, and then move on to the next.

2. Don't stop right away, just count

How to get rid of bad habits
How to get rid of bad habits

Don't try to immediately quit the habit once and for all. Don't try to break the habit - get rid of impermanence.

In other words, don't try to quit smoking overnight - try to smoke the same number of cigarettes a day. Or check Facebook no more than your usual 90 times per hour. This little effort will eventually lead to a complete break from the habit.

This is confirmed by experiments. Psychologist Howard Rachlin has shown that by focusing on the consistency of a habit, rather than the habit itself, you are more likely to succeed. Smokers who were asked to smoke the same number of cigarettes per day gradually began to smoke less, even if they claimed they were not going to quit.

If you just pay more attention to numbers, it will make a big difference. It turned out that counting calories on labels before meals had a greater impact on weight loss than exercise. Subjects who read the ingredients and counted calories tended to lose more than those who simply did exercise. That is, you can get rid of extra pounds even faster if you both read labels and do exercises.

There is no need to immediately deny yourself everything. Just pay attention to the numbers and keep behaving badly. But be sure to strive for consistency.

3. Don't change yourself, change your environment

Don't change yourself, change your environment
Don't change yourself, change your environment

Every day I install Instagram on my phone and every day I uninstall it. Does it sound abnormal? Not really. This is the easiest way to check it once a day. I no longer want to check Instagram 600 times a day. It takes an effort to download it. And this is another big secret for getting rid of bad habits.

Don't change yourself. Change the context. Habits pull us in due to environmental triggers. By removing or reducing your triggers, you are less likely to be drawn into unwanted behaviors. Your environment affects you much more than you think.

The environment affects us. According to Dan Ariely, professor of behavioral economics, this is one of the most important social science discoveries of the past 40 years. If you go to the sideboard and the food is arranged in one way, you will eat one. If the food is arranged differently, you will eat differently. We think we make decisions on our own, but we are largely influenced by our environment. This is why we need to think about how to change things around us.

Keep what attracts you away from yourself. Writer Shawn Achor advises applying the twenty second rule. Make your bad habit harder to get started, and the chances of you picking it up will be significantly reduced. Watching too much TV? Remove the batteries from the remote control. The 20 second delay it takes for them to return to their seat leads to people turning on the TV less often.

You don't need to change yourself right now. Change things around you.

4. Relax


What most often pushes you to bad habits? Stress. If you're relaxed, your brain is more likely to make the right decision, neuroscientists say.

Stress weakens the prefrontal cortex, and this part of the brain does not have endless resources. She cannot be alert all the time. While she loses some of her mindfulness due to stress, the striatum comes into play, which advises you to drink a beer or eat a cookie. But if you get rid of stress, your prefrontal cortex can keep your habits in check.

Don't push yourself. Stay calm and your behavior will change for the better.

5. Don't eliminate bad habits - replace them

When you say the words "I will never do again …", the likelihood that you will do it again increases.

Charles Duhigg, in The Power of Habit, writes that all research on this topic converges on one thing: bad habits cannot be simply eliminated, but they can be replaced. When you feel the compulsive urge to chew, put sugar-free gum in your mouth, not a bun. The trigger is the same, the desire is satisfied, but you have replaced the unwanted behavior with a good one.

We know that a habit cannot be uprooted - it must be replaced. And we know that most habits are easily transformed when the golden rule of habit change is applied: if we keep the same trigger and the same reward, the new behavior becomes a habit.

Think about which triggers provoke bad behavior, and then replace your usual reaction with a new one that will give you a different (but still enjoyable) reward.

6. "If" and "Then"

The words "if" and "then" will help you get rid of bad habits
The words "if" and "then" will help you get rid of bad habits

A simple plan will help you resist temptation. What do you do before you start a bad habit? For example: "Every time I sit on the couch, I am on the Internet for an infinitely long time." Now use these two words to make a tiny plan: "If I sit on the couch, then I take a book with me."

Planning is a really powerful tool that can help you achieve any goal, from diet and exercise to negotiation and time management. Your chances of success will be greatly increased if you think about specific actions in advance to achieve your goal ("If the meeting ends at four o'clock, I will return to the office and make all my scheduled phone calls").

Is it too easy to be true? Nothing like this.

During the experiment, it was found: 91% of the subjects who made small plans continued to do exercises regularly. From the group of "non-planners" - only 34%. Similar results were obtained in experiments on the introduction of the habit of taking care of their own health. Monthly breast self-exams continued to be performed by 100% of the planners (versus 53% of the non-planning group), and the annual cervical cancer screening was continued by 92% of the planning group (versus 60% of the non-planning group). planning).

Just two words - "if" and "then" - open up great opportunities for you.

7. Forgive yourself

Forgive Yourself Weakness
Forgive Yourself Weakness

You may have lost your temper. It's okay, that's okay. Be aware that old habits can come back. Consider this as a temporary step backward, and not as a reason to abandon everything that was planned altogether.

For example, you made a promise to yourself that you wouldn’t eat cookies. And then inadvertently it was eaten. This does not mean that the whole diet is thwarted. The diet is over when you eat one cookie, say, "I give up," and then mince the rest of the pack.

What to do when you have lost control of yourself? Forgive yourself and move on.

Self-criticism leads to a decline in motivation and a decrease in the ability to self-control. It is also one of the main indicators of impending depression. In contrast, being loyal and kind to yourself leads to increased motivation and better self-control.

You are trying to improve your life, and it's okay if you stumble sometimes.


So, here are the secrets to help you get rid of bad habits:

  • One at a time. Focus on one bad habit a month and you will be a different person in a year.
  • Don't stop, just count. Don't try to get rid of bad behavior right away. Build consistency in your addictions.
  • Don't change yourself - change your environment. The twenty second rule. Make it a little harder to repeat the bad habit.
  • Relax. Stress makes harmful things more attractive. Remain calm and your behavior will change for the better.
  • Do not get rid of, but replace. You cannot completely eradicate bad habits, but you can replace them with new ones.
  • A simple plan with the words "if" and "then" will help you resist the temptation.
  • Forgive yourself. Self-flagellation will only worsen the situation. Being kind to yourself will help you get back on track.

And one more piece of advice. External pressure is even good when used strategically. Does your mom want you to hang out with the good guys at school because they set a good example for behavior? Mom was right.

This is also a very simple recommendation. Chat with people you want to be like. Do you procrastinate a lot? Spend more time with super productive friends. Do you want to be in shape? Constantly communicate with friends who are obsessed with gyms and healthy eating.

Over time, you adopt eating habits, lifestyle choices, and even career aspirations from those with whom you spend time. If you are in a group of people who set themselves really high goals, you will strive to do the same. Conversely, if your friends are not ambitious, then you will lower your own standards.

And that's enough talk. Now is the time to write to the friend you want to be like and make an appointment. Friends don't just make us happier. They help us become better.

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