How to Get Rid of Bad Habits Once and for All


April 8, 2013   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Every single thing you are not satisfied with in your life is a result of a bad habit compounded over time.

If you don’t have enough money, it’s because bad habits kept you from taking action and making money.

If you are not as fit as you would like to be, it’s because of bad habits that kept you glued to the couch.

Bad habits are like viruses that spread into all areas of our lives.

Would you like to change that?

The only thing that separates successful people from failures are successful habits.

Whether you are training for an ultra marathon, starting a business or running a successful blog, cultivating good habits is the key to mastery.But this is easier said than done.

Most of us go through our entire lives under the control of external circumstances, as opposed to being at cause for creating the life we want to live.

We find it near impossible to build good habits because we spend every day floating down the river of life with no oars.

Empowering habits allow us to take charge of our destiny by controlling our daily activities so that we no longer have to be a victim to the roller coaster of our feelings. The compound effect of those actions over time leads to the life of our dreams.

Follow these 9 steps to transform success from uncertainty to inevitability.

1. Take 100% responsibility for your life

Our only true freedom is to choose our response and our attitude to the events that occur every day, especially when those events are outside of our control.

To practice 100% responsibility, choose to create an empowering meaning to any event, find the value in it and move forward in a manner that improves the quality of your life. This is as opposed to being a victim that blames, complains or whines about circumstances.

2. Define a compelling why

Without a strong reason to drive you in changing your habits, it is near impossible to do so. Viktor Frankl once said, “Those who have a why to live for, can bear with almost any how.”

I have adapted that to say “those who have a why to live for, will create almost any how.” The purpose behind your desire to change a habit is the fuel that will keep you going when things get tough. It is the driving force for change.

3. Believe in your ability to succeed

Henry Ford said it best, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.

Belief is the root of change. The strongest force in human behavior is the need to act in line with our self-identity or our belief of who we are. To change a habit, you must believe that you can actually do it.

One way to create this belief is to log all the successes you have ever achieved in your life. From first learning how to tie your shoelace to graduating high school, whatever it may be, celebrate your successes to show yourself that you are capable of greatness.

Prove to yourself that you can do anything you put your mind to. Anchor in that state of unstoppable confidence and then condition the anchor over time.

4. Become aware of your habit cycle

MIT researchers have found that all habits consist of three elements: a cue, a routine and a reward. If you find yourself drinking a few beers every day after work and you want to change that habit, figure out how your actions fit into the habit cycle.

The cue could be coming home from work at 6:00pm. The routine may be taking off your shoes and your coat, sitting on your couch, kicking up your feet and opening up a beer. To figure out the reward…

5. Experiment with different routines that meet the same reward

Using the above example, the reward could be a variety of things. It may be the high from the alcohol, or it may be a release from the stress of work, or it may be relaxation. The key to breaking bad habits is to keep the cue and the reward the same, but change the routine.

To gain awareness on your individual habit cycle, write down your cues, routines and rewards while you are in the cycle. Then, experiment with different routines that offer the same reward. The reward may not be what you first think it is, so be sure to get very clear on the reward by writing it down every time you engage in the habit. Once you are clear on the pleasure from the behavior, then…

6. Interrupt the old patterns

Often our habits are so conditioned into our being that we move through those patterns without any thought or consciousness as to what we are doing. Interrupting the old patterns creates a space for new ones. A few ways to interrupt your pattern are to shock yourself or say something outrageous that makes you laugh or interrupt it through some physical action.

One woman put a can of dog food next to her fridge to interrupt her pattern every time she reached out for some junk food. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. The goal is to get you out of a preprogrammed way of being by engaging in a behavior that shocks you, so as to change your state and facilitate the transition into another pattern.

7. Celebrate the little successes

No matter how small or large, celebrate every single victory. We are no different from Pavlov’s dogs; it is just as easy to condition an associated response to an event in human beings as it is in dogs.

By celebrating the little successes, we are simply conditioning the association between a positive emotion and the desired habit, thus reinforcing to our subconscious mind that this new habit equals pleasure. The emotion then starts to drive our actions, which in time leads to a new habit.

8. Build a team

Success is a team sport. No one does it alone. That is why programs like AA are so successful in aiding the recovery of alcoholics. That is also why some of he most successful people in the world, from Henry Ford to Tony Robbins to Napoleon Hill, all created mastermind groups.

The reason why most people fail to change a bad habit is because they have no one holding them accountable for it. Find people to support you, or use, and you will exponentially increase your chance for success.

9. Condition the new habit for at least 30 days

NASA researchers have found that it takes an uninterrupted period of 25-30 days for the brain to create a new neural pathway. In one experiment, NASA had a group of astronauts wear convex goggles that made everything appear upside down for 30 days. Much to their surprise, they found that after 25-30 days, all the astronauts started seeing the world the right way up, even with the goggles on. In a follow-up study, half the astronauts took off the goggles for one day after wearing them for 15 days in a row.

It then took another 25-30 days for their brains to form the neural pathway that made the world look the right way up again. To condition a habit for long-term success, practice the new habit for 30 days in a row without any interruptions. Focus on one habit at a time to reduce overwhelm and increase your chance for success.

Have you been able to create new habits that are still with you today? 

We would love to hear your experiences with getting rid of bad habits in the comments below.

Written on 4/8/2013 by Akshay Nanavati. Akshay has recovered from a life of drugs and has since spent 7 months in Iraq with the US Marines, traveled the world exploring the most hostile environments on the planet and been trained as a success coach in the most effective methods of personal transformation. Check out his personal development blog to get more in depth training on how to shatter limiting beliefs and download the exclusive member only “Life Mastery Blueprint,” a guide to support you on every step of your journey to success. Photo Credit

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