The Steps to Quitting a Bad Habit

Dated: October 6 2021

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So let’s say you’re ready to quit your bad habits. What do you do?

What you don’t do is just think quitting will be easy, and start without preparing yourself.

What you also don’t do is think quitting will be too hard, and you should do it later because you don’t really think you can do it.

Instead, try these steps:

1. Have a deeper why.

When things get tough, you’ll ask yourself, “Why am I putting myself through this?” And you should have a good answer. Be ready with answers for all your mind’s weaseling.

2. Make a commitment.

If you’re ready to quit, commit to starting your quit three to seven days from now. Mark it on your calendar and tell everyone about it. Make this a big deal in your head, so that you’re fully committed. One of the biggest mistakes I used to make was thinking it would be easy, so I didn’t fully commit. Tell the world, and count down to the days.

3. Get some accountability and support.

Tell all your friends to hold you accountable, and to ask daily for updates. Create a blog just for this change, and share it with everyone you know on social media and elsewhere. Join an online forum about quitting this kind of habit, and ask for their support. Get an accountability partner who you give regular updates to and who you have to call if you are getting a really strong urge, make a call to them.

The accountability will cause you to pause before you give in to an urge, and the support is there for when things get tough.

4. Understand your triggers.

Every habit is triggered by some event. Track your habit in a notebook for a couple of days. Then write down the triggers in the notebook for a day or two. This helps to be more aware of the triggers, some of which aren't realize.

Habits are triggered by something. Write them down in a document titled, “Quit Plan.” Put the date of your quit, your accountability system, your why, and the triggers in this document.

5. Know what need the habit is meeting.

We have bad habits for a reason—they meet some kind of need. For every trigger you wrote down, look at what need the habit might be meeting in that case. For stress, obviously the habit is helping you cope with stress. A bad habit can help you cope with bad feelings, such as sadness, loneliness, feeling badly about yourself, being sick, dealing with a crisis, needing a break or treat or comfort.

Write these needs down in your Quit Plan, and think of other ways you might cope with them.

6. Find replacements.

For each trigger, find a replacement habit. Maybe meditating and doing pushups for stress, taking notes after a meeting, reading with a cup of coffee, journaling after eating. These replacements should meet whatever need the bad habit was meeting, ideally, for that trigger. Write these on your Quit Plan.

7. Have reminders.

What will you do to remember to do your new habits? Put up visual reminders everywhere, especially around where the trigger happens.

8. Don’t give yourself exceptions.

Don’t give in. Be vigilant. You’re worth it. Write the No Exceptions rule on your Quit Plan.

9. Learn from mistakes.

That said, if you do mess up (and we all do), be forgiving to yourself, and don’t let one mistake derail you. See what happened, accept it, figure out a better plan for next time. Write this on your Quit Plan.

Your plan will get better and better as you continually improve it. In this way, mistakes are helping you improve the method.

10. Watch the urges, and delay.

You will get urges to do your bad habit. These are dangerous if you just act on them without thinking. Learn to recognize them as they happen, and just watch them rise and fall, without acting. Delay yourself, if you really want to act on the urge. Breathe. Drink some water. Call someone for help. Go for a walk. Get out of the situation. The urge will go away, if you just delay.

11. Be positive.

The right mindset is everything, because if you allow yourself to listen to negative self-talk (“I can’t do this”), you’ll fail. See the negative self-talk, don’t believe it. Have a positive answer for it.

An overly optimistic mindset isn’t necessarily helpful, because if things don’t go well, that could make you feel horrible that you were wrong. Instead, just tell yourself you can do this, you’re strong, you got this. And be realistic in that things won’t go as planned, but those are learning opportunities. In the long run, you’re going to make it, because you’re worth it.

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Colleen LaChapelle

Colleen LaChapelle is an agent with the right balance of hustle and experience. A trusted resource for all things related to real estate, and beyond. Colleen began her real estate career as an inves....

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