5 Unexpected Tricks for Replacing a Bad Habit with a Good One

If you asked anyone how they managed to eliminate one of their old bad habits by replacingit with a good one, they might give you some vague answer like, “I just decided that I really wanted to do it,” or “I pushed myself.” While this may be true to them on the surface, it doesn’t give people like us any hints about what kind of mindset tricks they may have subconsciously used to do it.

Habit formation is an extremely personal endeavor, but there are some more specific ways youcan increase your chances of success. In fact, some ofthemost effective tricksare pretty counterintuitive for most people. Here are just five you should consider.

Focus on atrigger rather than the habit itself.

If you want to eliminate your bad habit of plopping down on the couch after work to watch TV with a glass of wine in hand, you might say to yourself, “I’m going to start exercisingfor 30 minutes after work.” Butfocusing on the habitualchange you want to makeisn’t what’s going to get you to take action.

Instead, you need to establish a trigger point that gets you to take action. If you want to exerciseafter coming home from work, your trigger could be the point where you walk through your front door. Or it could be the point where you change out of your work clothes.So instead of simply telling yourself you’ll exercise after work, you can trigger yourself to take actionby saying,”As soon as I walk through my front door, I’m on my way to exercising.”

Take one extremely tinyaction toward positive change.

People often seek to change their habits because they want some sort of result. A focus on results means making changes substantial enough to start seeing progressin a reasonable amount of time, which is often uncomfortable to sustain day after day, week after week, and month after month. In fact, many of usgreatly overestimate what we’re able to keep up withover the long run.

If you want to permanently replace a bad habit with a good one, aim to take one small action a day that only takes a few seconds or maybea minute to complete. If it’s reading instead of watching TV, start with reading just one page of your book. If it’s flossing instead of ignoring your dental hygiene, start with just one tooth. You need to build thefoundation of your habit first with a very small, impossible-to-not-do action first before trying to get realresults.

Perceive difficult obstacles as valuablelessons.

Many of us have fixed mindsets, meaning we think we’re simply born with an unwavering levelof talent, intelligence and other desirable traits needed for success. People with fixed mindsets see obstaclesand their own mistakes as things that verify how capable or incapable they are of succeeding at something.

People with growth mindsets, on the other hand, see traits like talent and intelligence as things that can be developed over time through effort. If you have a fixed mindset, anything that gets in your way of performing your habit is likely to make you want to say “screw it” and quit. In contrast, people with growth mindsets recognize the hard stuff as things that will help thembecome betterand develop more resilience.

Tell yourself you’realready a huge success.

The difference inwording may be subtle, but saying, “I want to successfully do[new habit],” is definitely not the same as saying,”I am successful at doing [new habit].” By telling yourself what you want to do or what you want to become as if you’re already doing it or embodying it, you can reprogramyour mind for success.

Your mind doesn’t care what’s real or fake in the moment, so even if you’re struggling to do a good job or feel confident in any new habit you’re trying to develop, your mind will start to believe you’re already a huge success if you juststarttalking to yourself as if you are. What you’re really doing here is simply using the power ofpositive affirmations to change your habits and make them stick.

Don’t get caught up infantasizing.

Telling yourself you’re already successful can work, but that’s not always the caseif it makes you getlost in fantasy land. One of the big reasons why visualization exercises don’t work so well for people who want to change is because they only visualize the positive outcome they want.

A UCLA study found that people who visualized themselves being involved in the process it takes to produce an outcomewere more likely to stick with their new habits. To change your habits from bad to good, make sure you focus on the learning, the practicing, and the doing that will get you the results you’re looking for.

Habits can betricky things to form and sustain, but with the above tips, you’ll bewell ahead of everyone else struggling to simply force themselves to just do it.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay


Elisa F
Elisa Fabout a year ago

Great tips :) thanks for sharing!

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jim Ven
Jim V2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Katie S.
Katie S2 years ago

The trigger tip is especially useful, thanks!

Rachel L.
Past Member 2 years ago

Tyfs. Useful suggestions.

Izorie Irvin
Izorie I2 years ago

Thanks, I really need this advice and will practice most of it.

Ankita Rafiz
Ankita Rafiz2 years ago

Useful post!Thanks for sharing.

Ankita Rafiz
Ankita Rafiz2 years ago

Useful post!Thanks for sharing.

Christine Rowe
Christine Rowe2 years ago

Helpful tips, thanks

Nina S.
Nina S2 years ago