Habits: Replacing Bad ones With New Ones

by Kat Polk

Everyone has both bad habits and good habits. Bad habits can have poor consequences, while good ones can be incredibly rewarding. The best way to eliminate the consequences of bad habits is to replace them with the rewards of good habits. Some examples of bad habits that have consequences are always sleeping in, biting your nails, procrastinating, and eating unhealthy foods. Each of these habits has a good habit to replace it with; For example, waking up early, practicing good time management, and eating healthy. Replacing a habit can be a struggle, if you have more information and facts about habits, it can help you.

How Habits Form

In order to replace habits, it helps to know how habits form. Habits are formed in a three step physiological process known as a “habit loop.” The first step of a “habit loop” is trigger, or cue, which tells your brain to automatically let a behavior unfold. The second step is the behavior itself, or the routine. Lastly, the third step is the reward, something that your brain likes, keeping you stuck in the habit. For example, reward that your brain gets from procrastinating, is not having to work. While procrastinating is a bad habit, it still gives you a short-term reward, making you want to continue doing it.

Forming Better Habits

The first step in forming better habits is starting with a small habit. Many people will say that they don’t have enough motivation or willpower, so they won’t even try. By starting small, you make the task so easy that you can’t say no.

For example, if you want your habit in the long run to be doing fifty push-ups each day, start with five. Once doing five push-ups is a consistent habit, or something you do every single day, you can move it up to ten. Keep repeating this process until you have reached the habit that you originally wanted to achieve.

In order to make a habit stick, you must make sure there is a reward for each habit. For our push-up example, the reward could be the feeling you get once you’ve completed all of the push-ups. If you don’t find the feeling that you get after completing a task rewarding, then do something right after you have completed you habit that makes you happy. This can be something like, putting on a favorite song, or eating your favorite snack. This way you can have the third step in the “habit loop” and make sure that your new habit stays consistent.

Breaking Bad Habits

Most bad habits are caused by stress can boredom. In order to break a bad habit, its easiest to find a new way to deal with the stress or boredom. For example, nail biting can be a result of stress. A new way to eliminate this habit that also eliminates stress, is meditation.

Simply finding a good habit to create, can eliminate a bad habit. It does take effort, but by going one small step at a time, it will seem like nothing. By replacing your habit, you can improve exponentially over the course of a few weeks. Start by making a plan, where you’ll start, and how you’ll end up at your final goal. Then you can visually see your progress, which is incredibly rewarding.

Once you start building better habits, and eliminating habits that may be harming you, you will be on the path to success.