Want To Change Your Habits? Try These 3 Methods

A habit is defined as: an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.

Whether good or bad, we all have habits. They’re an integral part of our everyday routines. Habits are the reason we brush our teeth every morning before leaving the house. Or why we wiggle the door handle twice to make sure it’s locked before heading off to work.

Habits allow us to drive home some days without even thinking about which turn to take next. They’re also the reason why we pick up a cigarette at the onset of stress or pour a shot of whiskey when something goes wrong. Habits are the reason we uncontrollably purchase things, gamble, or find ourselves in addictive states.

Society often labels people who buy scratch-off tickets as a gambler, a drinker as an alcoholic, an organized person as a neat freak. Typically, those with bad habits are labeled as addicts.

But is that who they actually are? Are these people really bad people?

In most cases, no, they’re just the product of bad habits. Habits that can be changed. Furthermore, we’re all addicts in one sense or another. The term addict often gets a bad rap because of its constant association with bad habits. However, an addiction (or habit) can be positive if it is chosen and comes from your conscious mind.

Habits may control our lives, but in the end we control our habits and have full control to alter them at any given time. In other words, habits define who we were, not who we are. They define our past; not the present. The power to determine our present and future rests solely in our hands. How?

By changing our habits.

What most of us don’t realize is that the biggest difference between those who are successful and those who are not boils down to habits. Odds are that you’re not going to see someone successful come home every night after work to a beer, couch, and TV remote.

Instead, you’ll find them going for a run, reading a book, or cooking a healthy meal. You’re also not going to find someone who has plans to buy their dream house, shopping online everyday. Instead, they create a habit to put money aside each paycheck to reach their goal. (Oh, and they stick to it!

So what is the difference between those examples? You guessed it! Habits.

For me, changing my habits, changed my life. If you’re not familiar with my story, you can read it here. During my recovery, I asked myself some really deep questions and I realized I wasn’t going to let my situation dictate who I was as a person. I decided I wasn’t going to be a victim any longer and realized that I could change my state just by changing my habits. Was it easy? Heck no! Was it worth it? Hell yeah!

So let’s break down habits a little further.

In its simplest form a habit is just a routine that we have created. Since our brains are always looking for ways to save efforts to focus on other tasks, we subconsciously create habits. We do this by turning routine experiences – such as brushing our teeth or going to the gym – into daily habits, which allows our brains to save resources and focus more on thought demanding tasks.

“The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do” – Charles Duhigg

You’re probably wondering well how can I change my habits? Experts have been studying the science of habits for years and have found that although there are many ways to change your habits there is no secret formula that works for everyone.

However, from my experience here are a few methods that I have found to be successful.

1. Cold turkey

If you can kill a habit cold turkey – then all the power to you! Some people can, but most aren’t able to stick with their decision when the cravings come back. Often when you cut a habit cold turkey – in a sudden and abrupt manner – the likelihood of it returning is much greater than following the other two methods below, and for good reasons.

2. Replace a bad habit with a positive one

This is exactly as it sounds. The approach here is to focus on one bad habit and replace it with a positive one. The most common example of this is an AA member who turns to faith in place of alcohol. If you want to learn more about replacing a bad habit with a positive one, then subscribe for next week’s article.

3. Associate pain and pleasure

If you’ve read any of Tony Robbins’ books, then you’ve heard him talk about the two reasons we do anything in life: pain and pleasure. The thought process here is also pretty simple. By changing what we link pain and pleasure to, we can instantly change our behaviors. If you want to learn how to change your habits by changing what you associate pain and pleasure to, then subscribe below for a future post.

Habits not only shape our lives, but they also have a huge influence on those around us. Don’t think for a second that your child isn’t picking up on your bad habits. Before you know it they will catch on.

Bad habits can have a huge influence on your health, your marriage, and your happiness. Nobody is perfect, but if you have a habit that needs to go, then let’s get motivated and take care of it. Life’s too short to be anything other than happy and healthy!