We all have unwanted habits that we wish we could get rid of – but as soon as we try, we get pulled in deeper and further away from our goal. We look at other people who are actively trying to quit smoking, getting fit and healthy, or cutting out snacks in the office. But how do they do it?! If we’re completely honest, getting rid of unwanted habits isn’t easy, but there are ways to make it easier.
Before kicking any habit out of your life, it is important to be prepared for the journey ahead. Getting rid of an unwanted habit isn’t an instant fix, and will take time and perseverance. Researchers suggest that you think your habit through for a month before you take steps to stop. You need to think about what influences your habit, what you need to change, how you need to do it and how difficult it will be. If it helps, make a pros and cons list, and make a tally of how often you do this habit to make you more psychologically aware of when and where you do it. This will make the whole process easier.
Get money involved
Okay, so if your unwanted habit is overspending or gambling, we wouldn’t suggest getting money even more involved – but for those of you that have any other habits, fining yourself for your habits is one of the best motivators to stop. Getting rid of a habit may be painful, and you may suffer from withdrawal symptoms or cravings, but there’s nothing better than money, right? So make yourself your very own ‘swear jar’ and give yourself a monetary reward for each day you go without doing the habit and watch the money rise. If you’re trying to quit smoking, why not put the money you’d spend on cigarettes each week into the pot and spend it on something else?
Change your location/environment
One of the biggest triggers of any trigger is the environment. You may have noticed that you always have to pick up something to eat as you walk through the kitchen, or always have a cigarette when you go to the pub, or always smoke in your company’s parking lot. Making small changes to your environment can help you get rid of your unwanted habit, and you’ll need to make it harder for yourself to fulfill this habit. For example, move all of the food on the kitchen counters into the cupboards or into the pantry (or even lock it up!) to make it harder for you to walk through and pick something up. If something is harder to do, or takes longer to do, we’re less likely to make an effort.
Review your relapses
As previously stated, getting rid of unwanted habits isn’t a quick fix and can often take months – which means we’re all going to have relapses at some point in our lives. Relapsing isn’t the end of the world, and you should not punish yourself for this, but you do need to ensure you get back on the horse and continue your journey. The best way to do this is to review your relapse. Mark on a calendar the date you’ve fallen short of getting rid of your habit, think about why this happened, what was around you and how it felt, and move on from there. Acknowledging these factors will make it easier to quit as you know what to avoid.
Reminder yourself of your goals
There’s only one person who can kick your unwanted habit – and that is you. Other people can influence you, but ultimately it is your mentality and your actions that beat it once and for all. But we can’t all be on top form all of the time. To keep your spirits high when you’re feeling low is incredibly important, so why not give yourself some motivation? Put reminders into your phone, leave notes around the house or in the fridge, or even set up a podcast following your journey so you can look back and see how well you’ve done. You’ll thank yourself.