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5 tips to controlling bad habits

Understand how bad habits form and know some strategies to break those.
By Ken Sundheim |


Habits run our lives. Our behavior has a direct and profound effect on our attitude.


Anyone can manage the good times and can cultivate the habits that promote well-being and success. However, every now and again, we gain bad habits that cause fatigue, self-depression and create a significant barrier to success.


When we act like the person we want to be, we eventually become that individual. Failure in the past to kill bad habits is no indication of future performance.


Habits can be changed, but only if we understand how they work and gain a comprehension of the most effective ways to combat undesirable actions. Above all else, it’s important to remember that bad habits are not easy to break, but they are even more difficult to live with.


Below, we have compiled a comprehensive study of why habits form and how to break the cycle to achieve what you want.


Related: Controlling bad habits for a successful career


Explaining self-discipline and will power

Willpower and self-discipline, ultimately determines the quality of life we lead. Luckily, willpower is a learnable skill.


However, willpower alone is not a sufficient tool that will prevent us from engaging in the undesired behaviors. Whenever we plan a habit change, it’s easy to underestimate the level of desire or temptation we experience on a regular basis.


The problem with trying to rely on mental strength alone, will not teach you how to act when you’re overwhelmed by stress or mental exhaustion.


Your willpower is a muscle and as the day goes on, you become more and more prone to going back to your old habits.


– Ego depletion refers to the idea that self-control or willpower draw upon a limited pool of mental resources that can be used up. When the energy for mental activity is low, self-control is typically impaired, which would be considered a state of ego depletion.




Five simplistic tips to begin behavior and habit transformation

Understand and identify the motivations as to why you’re engaging in the undesirable habit. Be honest with yourself. The more information you have about a habit, the easier it is to eliminate. Below, are 5 exercise that should assist with furthering your knowledge and aiding in habit transformation.


Related: The fundamentals of successful thinking



1. Create small wins. The most efficient way to make a permanent change is to focus on daily, incremental improvements. Your aim is to wean yourself from the habit by setting target goals that consistently decrease the amount of time you spend doing the undesirable habit.


2. Take digital sabbaticals. Completely disconnect from the Internet. Do so for a chunk of hours at a time.


3. Write down the reasons you want to make a change. Know why you want to make the change and what result you expect from this experience.


4. Know the feelings, actions and situations that trigger the undesirable habits. Is it nervousness, excitement, boredom, depression or another feeling that initiates the need to engage in the habit? Once you know, you can systemically save up your will power until you feel better.


5. Commit to one habit change at a time. It’s almost impossible to make multiple changes at once. Most individuals don’t have the willpower to manage multiple new routines. Depending on what source you reference, formulating a new habit can take as long as 2 months or as short as 3 weeks.



In the end

Over 40% of what you do on a daily basis is habitual. We perform every action on for a specific reason. Habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.


When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. However, that can all be changed; it simply takes time, self-knowledge, belief and consistency.



Related: 15 behaviors and traits of great leaders



Copyright © 2015 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
This article also appeared on Minor edits have been done by the editor.

Photos from Flickr (Chris Hoefer and Francois Botha)

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