Bad habits are frustrating and difficult to break, but why are some so hard to shake? First, let’s explore why bad habits are so stubborn and what you can do to overcome them.
Your Life is Out of Alignment
Bad habits often arise when something in your life is out of balance. Maybe you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed, or perhaps you're not getting enough sleep or exercise. Whatever the case, when something in your life is off kilter, it can be hard to break a bad habit.
What’s out of alignment? Here are some common examples and some ideas to help get you back in balance:
- Sleep/energy levels – Make sure to get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and eat a balanced diet.
- Stress/anxiety – Engage in stress-relieving activities such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.
- Time management – Create a daily routine and schedule tasks to maximize productivity.
- Finances – Develop a budget plan and stick with it.
- Relationships – Spend more quality time with family and friends.
- Work/life balance – Set boundaries between work and leisure activities so that you can rest and relax during off-hours.
It's important to identify what might be out of alignment and work to fix it. To determine what is out of alignment in your life you may need to practice mindfulness to help you figure out what’s not right for you.
For example, if you have low energy, is it due to your diet, sedentary lifestyle, stress, anxiety, or is it simply that your time management needs some work? Taking an honest inventory about what’s going on with yourself will help you figure out what’s causing this misalignment so you can get back into balance.
You Don't Understand Why You are Doing It
Sometimes, people engage in bad habits without really understanding why. Maybe you’re doing it out of boredom, to cope with negative emotions, or simply because it's a habit you’ve always had.
It’s difficult to address the issue without understanding the root cause of your bad habits so that you can make lasting changes.
Thankfully, it only takes a few steps to get to the root cause of a bad habit:
- Identify the habit.
- Track your behavior.
- Ask yourself hard questions.
- Take action.
Take the time to observe the bad habit so you can determine what exactly the bad habit is. Take notes when the habit occurs. Ask yourself why. Write down the situation or emotions you experience that triggers the habit. Noting these things can help you to identify and understand any underlying causes, especially the payoff you get from performing the bad habit.
You Focus Only On the Goal, Which Overwhelms You
Breaking a bad habit is sometimes overwhelming. This is especially true if you're focusing on the end goal rather than the steps it takes to get there. So instead of trying to quit a habit cold turkey, it is often more effective to focus on small, achievable steps.
For example, if you're trying to stop procrastinating, try setting a goal to work on a task for just 15 minutes each day. You'll be more prone to sticking to your new habit and making lasting changes by taking small steps that accumulate over time.
Bad habits are hard to break. However, by understanding the root cause of your habit, focusing on small, achievable steps, identifying what might be out of alignment in your life, and working to correct the issues, you are sure to overcome them and create lasting change.