Jumpstart your New Year Series (Part 1) Get rid of your bad habits

Many people wait until the 1st January to initiate a change towards a better life. Many even endure several months to put off giving up a bad habit until 1st of January. However, you do not have to wait until 1st of January to give up a harmful, sinful or unfruitful way of life. Jumpstart your New Year resolution today! If you are serious about having a Happy New Year, do not wait until the last few minutes of New Year’s Eve. Initiate the change today.

Start making the necessary plans – take action to make your vision come to fruition by changing some bad habits.

Why do bad habits have such a tight grip on us?

A teacher once illustrated the power of evil habits to her students in the following manner: she took a roll of thread and wrapped it one time around a student’s wrists that were placed together. “This represents the power of doing something one time,” she explained. “Can you break the thread?”

The student easily did so. Then the teacher wrapped the thread many times around the wrists and repeated the challenge to break them. Despite the real effort, the thread was too strong to be broken. “This is the power of repeated actions or habits,” she explained.

Habits have such a tight grip on us because they are repeated ingrained behavioural patterns. If you want to break a bad habit you must recognise that it has the upper hand on you, so you must be deliberate and persistent in your approach.

Interestingly, many bad habits have honourable roots. They start as an effort to accomplish something positive; swearing, for example, can begin as an attempt to communicate dissatisfaction and disagreements. However, when you are said to be “swearing like a light bulb,” no one would think that you have pure intentions anymore.

Unfortunately, bad habits have a way of creeping up on us. What started out as a bar of chocolate every time you want to treat yourself ends up as 15 pounds of unwanted weights; an occasional white lie becomes a complex chain of untruths.

Know your bad habits

What habit do you want to change in 2020? Take a minute or two and write it down. Also make a list of what it is costing you, every day, to continue with that habit.

Some bad habits are such a part of our daily lives that it’s easy to forget we have them.

Now, take a few minutes to think about the cost of not changing that habit. You might ask yourself, “Where will I be at the end of 2020, if I don’t make that change?” Use your imagination. A written record can serve as a great reminder later on, when your motivation slips.

How to get rid of your bad habits

Let the truth prevail
The first step to breaking a bad habit is to accept that you have a bad habit. Let the truth prevail. A clinical psychologist once wrote about a study involving participants who had failed to lose weight on 20 or more diets and weight-loss programs. The participants insisted that the reason for their failure was genetic because they ate very little and still couldn’t lose weight. When researchers carefully recorded participants’ eating habits 24 hours a day, they found that they were eating twice as much as they claimed. These people simply had a weak awareness of their behaviour, and this lack of insight perpetuated their bad habits.

If you don’t know and refuse to accept that you have a bad habit it is almost impossible to change it. Habits gradually blend in with our everyday behaviour, becoming almost automatic. When this happens, they follow us wherever we go. Lack of awareness allows habits to grow, while awareness helps us escape our habits.

Make a list of the wonderful advantages you’ll enjoy if you do change your habit. Try to come up with at least five items, take a couple of minutes to think about the benefits of changing the habits. What will your life be like in one or two years if you change that habit? This should motivate you to change your bad habits.

Replace bad habits with good ones
For example, if you must snack after dinner, fill your fridge with healthy food like fruits rather than chocolates and cakes. If you are used to watching television programmes or doing things that stifle your creativity, cultivate the habit of reading books and magazines or be selective about the TV programmes you watch.

Change your environment
Indeed, one of the most powerful methods of breaking a bad habit is to place yourself in an environment that encourages your new good habit.

If you are a student and there is no quiet place to study at home, change your study environment – do your homework and study at the library instead. Some people find a very quiet place counterproductive when they want to concentrate on a job or study. For such people playing music or radio while they work may be helpful.

Bad habits could also evolve from upbringing. For example – being disorganised is a combination of habits and traits. Traits are inborn, whereas habits are acquired. It’s true that many people who are disorganised were “brought up that way,” but often the problem is compounded by the fact that few people are taught basic organising skills either at home or at school and it is certainly possible to learn these skills, and people who make an ongoing effort can change their habits and become more organised.

Break the chain with warning signs
If you break the chain early you can avoid the unwanted behaviours. Carefully placed warning signs can help you change your bad habits. If you want to avoid watching TV for hours, set your mobile phone or alarm clock to warn you after one hour. If you want to avoid eating junk food, don’t stock up your fridge with junk food and paste a good-food-chart on your fridge. Let it warn you and guide your eating habit.

Facilitate the good habits
If you go straight to the gym before going home after work, you may succeed in maintaining a regular excise routine. But if you go home first and when you see your comfortable sofa in front of the TV, you may battle with your willpower and end up in surrender.

Changing a bad habit, and improving your life, takes commitment and facilitation. Get started today by committing to change your bad habit, gradually. Then encourage yourself, avoid distractions, stay focused and reward yourself for achieving positive results.

By Alex Iwuoha

Alex Iwuoha

Alex Iwuoha is a dedicated and results-driven business and marketing professional with over two decades of experience gained within senior management roles across the charity, private and public sector organisations.

He is an author and a publisher, with a vast experience in business to business networking and marketing solutions. For more information, please visit www.alexiwuoha.com