4 Steps to Breaking a Bad Habit
By Ciara Sullivan
If someone were to ask you what your biggest barrier to success is, what would you say? While we all may have different answers to that question, I feel pretty confident that we may all share a common theme: bad habits. Whether you’re looking for success in business or your personal life, bad habits certainly can drag us down and leave us feeling unaccomplished. I’ve seen it happen time and time again at work, in school, and at home.
I have two bad habits that I would love to change: waking up late (as evidenced by my last blog), and being unorganized. I’ve often thought that if I could change these two things about myself I would be more successful in all areas of my life, which in turn would reduce any stress and anxiety. Sounds like a win-win situation, right? If only it were that simple. I can’t tell you how many years in a row “wake up earlier”, or “GET ORGANIZED” has been at the top of my New Year’s Resolution list…right next to “save money” and “go to the gym”. Are you chuckling to yourself yet? I bet that a lot of this sounds familiar.
Merriam Webster defines the word “habit “ as: a usual way of behaving, something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way. I’ve heard before that it takes 30 days of repetition to make or break a habit. But how in the hell are we supposed to keep up with something for 30 straight days? I don’t know about you, but between a job, an internship, and being a full time graduate student (which is basically a full-time job in itself) I’m a pretty busy person. Sometimes it takes all the energy I have to just get ready for bed at night.
Before starting my Master’s Degree in Mental Health, I studied Behavioral Analysis for a year. I’ve compiled a list of 4 tips in accordance with Behavioral Therapy that may help you start working on shedding those bad habits for good.
1. Find your motivation. What are you working towards? Find a goal, and make sure it is in sight of you every single day. I mean this quite literally: at Keller Williams, we’ve all made dream boards. My dreams stare me in the face every day while I work.
2. Have a positive goal. This one is taken straight from Behavioral Analysis, and it’s pretty simple to follow. Studies have shown that goals often feel more attainable when they are in a positive light. Instead of getting rid of a bad habit, think of it as picking up a good habit. For example, I would have “wake up earlier” rather than, “stop getting up so late”.
3. Track yourself. Also taken straight from Behavioral Analysis, this is called self-monitoring. Track yourself daily, and hang your chart somewhere visible; it doesn’t count if you tuck it away in your drawer. The more you are aware of your behavior, the more likely you are to adjust it (this is called reactivity).
4. Find a buddy to hold you accountable. Have a friend check in on your goal daily. Personally I’ve found that this can also be a fun way to connect with a friend, especially if you have a similar goal in mind. My best friend and I once did a 30 day work out, and we checked in with each other every day to make sure the other one completed it for the day.
In the end, your ability to pick up a good habit really depends on one thing: your willingness to change. Changing isn’t easy; it’s not something we’re wired for. But keep in mind that can be done. A little motivation can take you a long way.