If you’re trying to kick a bad habit, then you may be finding it a frustrating experience.
Because in order to work on stopping a behavior, you have to continually focus on it.
You can’t think about not smoking without thinking about, well, smoking.
You can’t focus on giving up chocolate without picturing the sweet, dark temptress that is chocolate.
Every time you yell at yourself to not repeat the offensive act, you replay a movie of the exact thing you want to leave behind. It’s like trying to get over a love by looking at their picture 50 times a day (though this might work if they’re frighteningly unattractive).
So here’s an another approach to ditching bad habits.
How To Kick A Bad Habit
Instead of focusing on what you don’t want to do, focus on something you do want to do.
Here are some examples.
Getting to work late
Every time you focus on not being late for work, you give your mind a lovely blueprint of exactly what it looks and feels like to get to work late.
Let go of that old picture. Just put it out of your mind.
Instead, try focusing on a new habit. For instance:
- If you’re late because you can’t get out of bed in the morning, focus on going to bed an hour or half-hour earlier every night
- If you’re late because you can never decide what to wear, make a habit of choosing and laying out your work clothes the night before
- If you’re late because you loathe your job, focus on finding a new job.
Binging on junk food at night (I know you don’t do this – me neither)
Telling yourself that you mustn’t do the late-night bingerama just reminds you how great those Red Rock Chips taste.
Don’t feed the bad habit (pardon the pun). Starve it by creating new, inconsistent habits. For instance:
- If you binge at night because you’re hungry, focus on eating a yummy and satisfying dinner earlier in the evening
- If you binge at night because you’re tired, decide to get more sleep
- If you binge at night because you’ve worked hard and feel you deserve a treat, focus on giving yourself other treats – such as taking a bubble bath, reading a book in bed, doing whatever feels rewarding to you.
Forgetting where you put the keys
Chastising yourself for continually forgetting where you put the keys is unlikely to create a sudden flash of memory.
Forget about it! Instead, try something different. For instance:
- If you forget where you put the keys because you always put them somewhere different, focus on putting them in the same place every time you come in
- If you forget where you put the keys because you share them with others, decide to get a set for each household member
- If you ‘forget’ where you put the keys because you secretly don’t want to drive the kids around, focus on setting boundaries for how often/at what times you will be chauffeur.
Hasta La Vista, Bad Habit
Shift your focus away from the habit you want to stop.
Instead, put your focus on a new behavior – one that’s inconsistent with or undermines the bad habit.
You’ll be more likely to succeed.
Will you try it?