What would it take for you to break a bad habit? What extreme circumstance would make you stop cold? Perhaps it’s smoking, drinking, interrupting, fidgeting, inserting ‘garbage’ words (“Umm…Uhh”) into your speech, or speaking too quickly. What would it take for you to stop?
I think every breathing human being can identify with this on a personal level. Everyone has something that they wish they could change. More often than not, there is more than one annoying habit plaguing people. That bad habit could be simply saying “Umm” too much, or preceding “like” before every other word (a common practice with teens today).
Snap! Break that Bad Habit!
Well if it were that easy I guess I wouldn’t have had to write this article! Breaking bad behavior is definitely a tough process; tough but not impossible. It is, however, even more difficult to recommend a specific solution since any type of improvement process is as much of a personal preference than anything else.
There are a few suggestions that I’ve heard over the years:
Bite your tongue Pinch yourself Have a “bad habit jar” and put money in every time you end in the practice Write down your daily goal in a place you will see it every day and ensure that you achieve it Try to keep yourself busy with something other than your bad habit (i.e. If your bad habit is that you worry too much, try to get your mind off things!)
The two most important things you need to break an annoying habit is: motivation and will power. You have to want to do it, and you have to be inspired to do it. Once you have those two things, chances for success have increased by an incredible percentage. Believe in yourself as you strive to attain your goal and get others to help motivate you along the way.
Start thinking about some major event that would change your life and entirely alter your perspective. Imagine how it happened, why, where, when and how you were involved. Do you have that mental image in your head right now? Well, now imagine that it happened today. What would you do? Would it be enough for you to stop your bad habit? Would it be too late?
Perhaps the major event is your fidgeting causing you to break a $200 000 vase, or your interrupting causing you to lose a sale or a close friend. Worse yet, imagine your smoking or drinking causing you to lose your life or a loved one. Put yourself in your own shoes if these things happened, would it make you stop cold?
Think about how your habits affect others and what kind of negative effects it causes. It may not always be easy to envision how a small bad habit — such as speaking too quickly or saying “like” too often — can cause any negative effects. Sometimes it won’t cause clearly-defined negative effects at all, but it’s important to be in a state of continuous improvement.
The Endless Cycle of Positive Improvement
Just as I mentioned in “The Biggest Fear: Complacency”, we must never become complacent. We must seek continual improvement. If we ever become satisfied with ourselves, with our habits or with our work ethic, we will never acquire the skills we need to grow. And if we don’t constantly grow and improve, what are we supposed to do? Sit there and twiddle our thumbs? No!
So if our short-term goal is to eliminate a certain ‘garbage’ word from our language or stop interrupting people, we must challenge ourselves and take improvements seriously. We must always remain conscious of our efforts and how our progression will lead us to our goals and dreams.
What are your bad habits and what are you going to do today about it?