The power of habits is real. While deliberately starting good habits can help you succeed in work and life, poor behavior patterns can put a real damper on achieving your biggest goals. Hoping to learn more about how to break bad habits, we chatted with Kacey Cardin, a creative multipreneur, business and life coach. Read on for Kacey’s six tried and true tips for nipping bad habits in the bud, which are based on her experience coaching creatives, passionate people and hustlers who live all over the world.
1. Pinpoint your bad habit. Before you can break a bad habit, you need to fully acknowledge what you’re actually DOING, since many bad habits are acted out unconsciously. “Admit it to yourself, but without judgment. Beating yourself up about it does not actually serve you in the long run,” Kacey says. So whether you’ve gone a bit crazy with the caffeine, can’t put down your iPhone around friends or have been ordering takeout way too much, note it and know that you have the power to make a change.
2. Figure out your triggers. Do you indulge in late night snacking after an extended happy hour? Bite your nails when you’re bored? Zone out when a particular person speaks in meetings at work? Kacey says, “Begin to notice your specific pattern, your triggers and your biggest hang-ups. Work to figure out what void you’re really trying to fill or what problem you’re avoiding with the bad habit.” If it helps, write your triggers down. Understanding what causes you to act in a specific way is the first step toward resetting your patterns.
3. Find satisfying and healthy alternatives. Instead of saying something like “don’t eat that” to yourself, Kacey suggests finding something to fill the void or fix the problem that triggers your bad habit. For example, if you’re snacking to “treat yourself” during a crazy busy week, try shifting your thinking to “honor yourself” instead. Maybe you’ll opt for coffee and a long walk or see a movie with friends instead of working late. “Give yourself options and you’ll be more likely to choose something outside of your old habits, rather than just making yourself ‘wrong’ for picking old automated choices,” Kacey says.
4. Think about what you can gain by breaking your bad habit. Would you like to save money? Cut back on coffee or sugary snacks? Whatever it is, Kacey says, “Look at your bad habit in smaller increments — and NOT as ‘for the rest of my life.’ Bad habits are often about short-term satisfaction and rewards, so focus on what you can gain in the near future by ditching them instead of indulging in them.” Just like starting a new habit, breaking your bad habit down to something small also helps make it more doable. Seeing those tiny successes will inspire you to keep making a conscious effort to create change for yourself.
5. Use your network to hold yourself accountable. Holding yourself accountable is KEY — no matter what it takes. Kacey suggests, “Declare your efforts to break bad behavior on social media or even just to one person whose opinion you value, if it helps. Maybe even consider the potential effectiveness of declaring your goal to a work rival or frenemy within your social circle. In every instance, use the power of your ego to your own benefit!”
6. Round up your cheerleaders. Great news: You don’t need to go about breaking bad habits alone. Get friends, family, colleagues and/or a great coach on your side. Make a true effort to request positive reinforcement, acknowledgement, reminders and check-ins. If a good kick in the pants gets you going, request that too! While making changes can be super challenging, it’s absolutely doable, and you are worth ALL of the effort it takes.
Have you recently broken a bad habit? Tell us how you did it on Twitter @BritandCo!
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