How To Break A Bad Habit By These Simple Steps

Six easy steps.


The photo archive that is Facebook is a brutal reminder that I used to be a better version of myself.

I ate salads and only drank, like, one coffee a day. I used to go hiking. I used to run. Last year at this time, I was reading so many books a month that I swear my brain was exploding with all the words.

Today, though? Today I’m sitting at my desk. I’ve been siting here since 9 a.m. I’m eating a plate of cookies for breakfast, and I’m three coffees into my early afternoon. And when I get off work, I’ll probably go lay on the couch and binge watch Netflix. I am a gross human.

A previous version of me is watching all of this happen and is shaking her head in pity, I know it. And I don’t blame her. And in case you’re wondering: no, I haven’t done any form of exercise in like a month, and yes, I would like to. But will I? Probably not. Bad habits die hard.

But falling back into the familiar cycle of over-caffeinating, sugar highs that end in energy burn out and low-grade depression elicited by allowing myself to not move for a solid five hours while I watch Netflix episode after Netflix episode would be a) extremely unbecoming b) bad for us all

For us all!!

So, I’m putting together a plan of sorts, an antidote to help break the bad habits I’ve picked up. Here’s my 6-step program to cut bad habits once and for all:

Choose a substitute for your bad habit:

You need to have a plan in place for how you will respond when you face the stress or boredom that prompts your bad habit. What am I going to do when I get the urge to drink yet another cup of coffee? (Example: Have some fruit infused water instead). What am I going to do when Netflix is calling me to zone out and fall into a digital coma? (Example: Read for 30 minutes.) Whatever it is and whatever you’re dealing with, you need to have a plan for what you will do instead of your bad habit.

Cut out as many triggers as possible:

Right now, your environment makes your bad habit easier and good habits harder. Change your environment, and you can change your outcome. Since I eat cookies when I’m sitting at my desk, I am clearing out my cookie drawer (*cries*). Because the first thing I do when I sit on the couch is pick up the TV remote, I’m hiding the remote in a different room. Make it easier for yourself to break bad habits by avoiding the things that cause them.

Surround yourself with people who live the way you want to live:

No, this doesn’t mean you have to drop your old friends like they’re hot, but you should be trying to spend time with people who encourage you to live in the way you want to live. Example: I’m going to make a conscious effort to spend more time with my friends that like to spend their Saturdays going hiking and visiting national parks as opposed to lying in my bed with a hangover. 

You don’t need to be someone else, you just need to return to the old you:

So often we think in order to break a bad habit we need to become an entirely new person, and this thought is extremely daunting. The truth is that you already have it in you to be someone without your bad habits. REALIZE THIS!!! It’s very unlikely you’ve had these bad habits all of your life. You don’t need to quit smoking; you need to return to being a non-smoker. I don’t need to transform into a healthy person; I need to return to being healthy.

Use the word “but” to fight off your negative self-talk:

  • I’m out of shape, but I could be in shape a few months from now.
  • I’ve wasted so much of my life watching TV, but I’m working to develop a new hobby.
  • I’m a failure, but everyone fails at some point.

Plan for failure:

Unless you’re an annoyingly perfect human (and since you’re reading this article, I will assume you aren’t), you will slip up. That. Is. Okay. Rather than totally beating yourself up for your mistake, accept it and move forward.

Change can be hard. In the beginning, your healthy habits might take two steps forward and one step back. Anticipating these backwards steps can make all the difference in the world. Develop a plan for getting back on track and recommit to your new routine as quickly as possible.