Becoming a Bad Habit Destroyer

Good Habits / Bad Habits Road SignIf you’re like most people you probably wrestle with bad habits that lead you to do things you would rather avoid. It’s been said that the bonds of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken, and indeed dropping a bad habit can be difficult.

It doesn’t have to be however. There are many tactics you can use to make the process of dropping a bad habit easier. Fortunately like all skills controlling you habits improves with practice.

Firstly you should realize that focusing on a behavior will only make its psychological hold on your stronger. The best way to drop a bad habit is to replace it with a good one. Define specifically which habits you would like to drop and what positive behavior could replace them. For example if your bad habit is heading to the fridge to eat when you feel overwhelmed by stress you could decide to do ten curls of a dumbbell instead.

Notice I suggested replacing a bad habit that takes less than a minute, heading to the fridge, with a positive replacement that also can be completed in a minute or so, doing ten curls of a dumbbell. If you were to try to replace heading to the fridge with say jogging around the block you would be making life harder on yourself, your replacement beneficial habit would require a lot more energy and commitment than the bad habit it was intended to replace. At every step of the way think about how to make easier for you to do the right thing and harder for you to slip back into the bad habit.

Humans are emotional creatures. Much of our behavior is driven by our feelings rather than our thoughts. Perhaps the most powerful technique for dropping a bad habit is to change the way you feel about that behavior. Anchoring is an exercise that associates a powerful emotional experience with an object or activity. To anchor negative emotions to your bad habit visualise the place and items involved in the habit along side something that has a strong negative connotation for you.

For example if you wish to stop smoking take some time out every day to look at a packet of cigarettes and imagine a coughing, wheezing unhealthy older person. If you perform this imagination exercise regularly the image of this unhealthy person will become the first thing you think of when you see a packet of cigarettes. The craving and desire that is your current instinctive reaction to that object will become displaced by the new negative associations.

Using a daily checklist to record which good and bad habits you have followed during the day can help keep the changes you want to make in your life at the forefront of your mind.

Other approaches that can help you get in control of unwanted habits include making yourself more accountable by going public with your commitment to drop the habit, focusing on a single new replacement habit for a month, creating a routine that makes it easier to follow your new replacement habit than not and changing the language your use to describe your behavior to be more empowering.

The will comes before the way, make a commitment to yourself that you will take a greater control over your life, realize that even if you have failed many times in the past you can succeed in the future.


Sam writes for a daily checklist website service that allows people to change their lives one tick at a time. Using the old adage that you can only manage what you measure to help people adopt new healthy habits and drop unhealthy ones.

2 thoughts on “Becoming a Bad Habit Destroyer

  • October 22, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    Hi Sam
    Really enjoyed your post. It is also easier if you are around people who are healthy too. Can provide motivation for getting that way and staying healthy once reaching the goals set. Then can set more goals one step at a time.
    Patricia Perth Australia

    • October 23, 2010 at 10:53 am

      Hi Patricia, that’s a great point. I’m sure that the habits of people we surround ourselves with tend to rub off on us as well.


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