This Is The Lazy Way To Kill Bad Habits: 8 Secrets From Research

Another post from Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Sum Up

Here’s how to get rid of those awful bad habits:

  • One at a time. Beat one bad habit per month and in a year you’ll be awesome.
  • Don’t stop. Just count. Don’t eliminate the bad behavior just yet. First, be consistent in your awfulness.
  • Don’t change you. Change your world. 20 second rule. Make it harder to engage in bad habits.
  • Chill, dude. Stress makes the bad stuff tempting. Relax and you’ll behave better.
  • Don’t eliminate. Replace. You can’t kill bad habits but you can swap them out for new ones.
  • “If” and “Then.” A simple plan for how you’ll beat temptation helps you beat temptation.
  • Forgive yourself. Beating yourself up makes you behave worse. Self-compassion keeps you going.
  • Peer pressure. Hang out with the people you want to be. Want to get healthier and exercise more? Hang out with people who are always doing that.

Research shows over time, you develop the eating habits, health habits and even career aspirations of those around you. If you’re in a group of people who have really high goals for themselves you’ll take on that same sense of seriousness. And conversely, if you’re in a group of friends who are not that ambitious, then you too will lower your standards.

 


One paper published by a Duke University researcher in 2006 found that more than 40 percent of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits.

 

1) Change A Bad Habit. Singular*

  • Focus on fixing one thing at a time
  • Kill one bad habit. Spend one month doing it and then move on to the next one

The truth of the matter is if this is a behavior that’s really important, changing it will have this huge impact on your life. It’s worth spending a month to change one behavior permanently. You’re going to be reaping the benefits of that for the next decade.

 

2) Don’t Stop. Just Count**

  • Don’t try to reduce the habit, reduce the variability in the habit. For instance, check facebook your usual 90 times per hour in one day.
  • This tiny effort toward self-control can lead to a decrease in bad habits over time, unconsciously.

Label users who did not exercise displayed a slightly greater likelihood of weight loss than those who exercised but did not read food labels. Additionally, those who only read labels were more likely to improve their chances of weight loss by adding exercise to their routines rather than abandoning label usage in favor of exercise.

 

I should start reading my food labels more…

3) Don’t Change You. Change Your World*

Don’t change yourself. Change your context. We engage in habits because of “triggers” in our environment. Remove the triggers or make them more difficult to reach and you’re less likely to engage in the behavior.

 

  • Make bad habits 20 seconds harder to begin

4) Chill, Dude.

  • Stress makes it more likely to engage in bad habits

5) Don’t Eliminate Bad Habits. Replace Them**

You can’t eliminate bad habits but you can replace them. Want to stop shoving donuts in your mouth?

When you feel the urge, put some sugarless gum in your piehole. The “trigger” stays the same and you still get a nice reward but you’re replacing the bad behavior with a good one.

6) “If” and “Then”**

Plans are good. And with a very simple one you can resist temptation. When do you always perform that bad habit? For instance, “Whenever I sit on the couch I surf the internet endlessly.”Okay, now use two words to make a teensy weensy little plan:

If I sit on the couch, then I will pick up a book. 

 

It’s called if-then planning, and it is a really powerful way to help you achieve any goal…have shown that deciding in advance when and where you will take specific actions to reach your goal (e.g., “If it is 4 p.m., then I will return any phone calls I should return today”) can double or triple your chances for success.

 

7) Forgive Yourself.

What does science say we should do when we lose self-control or procrastinate? Forgive yourself and move on.

 

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