Experts say quitting bad habits is critical to your mental health, but it can be difficult. We break down seven proven steps that will help you stay on track with healthy goals and avoid falling into old patterns. You’ll discover how the journey of change makes you stronger in the long run, not just physically but mentally as well.
Quitting all bad habits at once is a difficult task, but it can be done. Here are some ways to quit bad habits and make good ones. Read more in detail here: quitting all bad habits at once.
The guy is defined by his habits. “We are what we repeatedly do,” Aristotle stated. You must develop the habit of planning if you want to be productive. You must develop the habit of exercising if you want to be physically healthy. What are your habits saying about you when you examine them?
It’s critical to break negative habits and adopt positive ones if you want to feel less restless and become more productive. When you have to pick whether you’re going to the gym, planning your day, or reading a decent book every day, and you leave those decisions up to your whims, the events of the day, and your present mood, you’ll almost always end up punting. Making the same choices every day is mentally draining, and the more you fail to meet your objectives and violate a contract with yourself, the less confident you get and the less successful each new venture becomes. It becomes a dreadful self-fulfilling prophesy once you begin to regard yourself as a failure.
Men who complain about how difficult life is typically haven’t developed healthy habits. Every day is a battle of wills between what they want to accomplish and what they really do. They can’t seem to hit that sweet spot when the behaviors that make you stronger, better, and happier become nearly instinctive, giving you that sensation of progress that is so important in living a happy life.
If you’re not satisfied with your current behaviors, I’ve included a few timeless principles that great men have used to become the men they want.
How to Form a Habit
1. Concentrate on one subject at a time. Many of the guys I know never change because they are always trying to better all aspects of their lives at the same time. This is something I do as well: you get dissatisfied with your life and write a list of all the things you want to alter, thinking that you will completely reinvent yourself the following day! It makes you feel really energized. However, altering one habit is difficult enough; changing five at once is almost impossible. You’re juggling a number of balls and ultimately they all fall to the floor because you’re exhausted. And there you are, right back where you started.
Dave Ramsey advocates a snowball debt repayment strategy, in which you pay off your lowest debt first. The concept behind the strategy is twofold: after the first loan is paid off, you can use the money you were paying toward it to pay off the next debt, and two, the pleasure you’ll feel from paying off the first one will keep you motivated to pay off the remainder. Developing new habits operates in a similar manner. Start with the simplest habit to master; the confidence you receive from conquering it will transfer over to the next most difficult behavior. Your self-assurance will continue to grow, and by the time you reach the most difficult habit, you’ll have amassed enough mojo to complete it.
It might be difficult to put something important on the back burner, but you must know that doing so is the only way to assure that you will be able to complete it successfully in the future. Patience, young Padawan, patience, patience, patience, patience, patience, patience, patience, patience,
2. Take as much initiative as possible while starting your habit. To break or build a habit, man must use a significant amount of energy in the beginning, much as a rocket must expend a massive amount of energy to escape the earth’s gravitational attraction. When it comes to forming new habits or breaking old ones, we need to do something that shakes up our existing mindset and makes us open to change. So, at the beginning, go all out. Kiss your soul-sucking buddies goodbye, pack your vehicle and relocate, sign a year contract with a gym, toss out all of your smokes (or, in my case, Diet Mountain Dew) in your home; whatever it takes. Simply make a huge thing of it.
3. Set a 60-day target for yourself. That “21-day habit-forming” idea you may have heard is most likely false. The idea was developed by a cosmetic surgeon who later became a self-proclaimed psychologist and published Pyscho-Cybernetics. (The book is a reprint of The Secret from the 1960s.) The assertion is not backed up by any substantial scientific data.
In reality, according to a recent research conducted by genuine experts, it takes an average of 66 days to create a habit. The amount of days depends on the habit you’re attempting to establish. Simple tasks such as taking a glass of water in the morning take less time than more difficult tasks such as regular exercise.
As a result, allow yourself 60 days to establish your new habit. 2 months is a long time to commit to anything, but you’re a guy, so you’re up for it!
4. Be careful not to break the chain! It’s critical that you don’t create any exceptions for yourself after you’ve decided to develop or break a habit. We don’t want to be like Rip Van Winkle, who excuses himself with “It won’t count this time!” after every new transgression. You may justify your “slip” to yourself and others, but a record of it is imprinted into your brain, sending a message to your man spirit that you lack the courage to stand by your values. These failures erode your drive and confidence over time.
Skipping one day makes it easy to miss the next, and we quickly find ourselves back where we began, frustrated. Every day is important. Any excuse will compromise your integrity (and consequently your self-worth) and lead to eventual failure.
Creating a “Habit Chain” is one approach to keep oneself motivated in the face of excuses. Jerry Seinfeld set a goal for himself as a young comedian to produce new jokes every day. To get into the habit of writing, Seinfeld devised a simple calendar system that compelled him to do so.
On the wall, Seinfeld would put up a large annual calendar. He would mark a large red X over that day every time he sat down to write.
“You’ll have a chain in a few days.” Just keep going, and the chain will become longer and longer each day. You’ll like seeing that chain, particularly after a few weeks have passed. The only thing left for you to do now is not break the bond.”
I’ve tried this approach a few times and can attest to its effectiveness. There’s something about seeing a calendar chain of Xs that both pushes you to keep going and makes you afraid to break it.
A few websites have appeared on the internet that have built online monitoring systems similar to Seinfeld’s. You may monitor your habit-forming progress online at Dontbreakthechain.com and Joe’s Goals. The best part is that they’re completely free. Create an account now and begin tracking.
5. Be responsible to yourself. An accountability buddy is even more motivating than a calendar full of Xs. When no one will ever know about our failings, it’s simple to slip off the wagon. Someone who can inquire how you’re doing and demand honesty is an accountability partner. The prospect of having to inform them about your blunder might also serve as a motivator to keep on course. You can ask a friend or mentor to check in on you on a daily or weekly basis, you can make a pledge on your blog (assuming people read it!) and provide regular updates on your progress, you can make a bet with your friends, or you can start a group in the Community to work on the habit with other men. If you’re attempting to give up porn, go to this website to download software that will send a weekly report on all the websites you visit to anyone you choose.
6. Substitute a healthy behavior for a negative one. It seems that the only way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a good one, at least in my experience. Nature abhors a vacuum, so if you make a hole in your life and don’t actively replace it with something good, it’ll fill with whatever is most convenient—yup, your old bad habit.
Over example, I’ve been attempting to quit a Diet Mountain Dew habit that began during my undergraduate years and only became stronger while law school for the last three years. I’d want to quit because a) aspartame makes me uncomfortable and b) I could spend $5 on something more enjoyable than a 12-pack of Coke.
I’d do OK for a week or two every time I resolved to quit drinking the stuff, only to wind myself at QuikTrip with my lips over the Dew dispenser.
Looking back on all of my mistakes, I can see that I made a mistake by never replacing my Diet Mountain Dew habit with a healthier one. As a result, I find myself returning to it, like a dog returning to its bright yellow vomit. This time, instead of popping a can of Dew, I’m going to drink a cup of yerba mate or a large glass of water.
Deep neural pathways are formed in your brain by your behaviors, both good and harmful. Consider it like chopping through a forest: the first time is difficult because you’re blazing a new track, the second is much easier, and the third and subsequent trips grow easier and easier as the pathway becomes well-worn. Because these roads have previously been trodden, your brain wants to follow them. This is why breaking habits is so difficult.
You can’t just delete the paths. Instead, you’ll have to start carving a way parallel to and around the old track. It will be difficult at first, but the good habit will gradually become the clear, go-to way, while the old habit road will become overrun with flora due to inactivity.
7. Just go ahead and do it, dammit! No matter how inspired or motivated we are, if we don’t seize every chance to act on our feelings, our objective of creating a habit will be a failure. Consistent activity is the key to success. My greatest issue is being trapped in the “strong initiative” phase. Turning over a new leaf appeals to everyone; it’s simple to become enthused about a fresh start and a new direction in life. It’s enjoyable to clean out the home, get a new planner, or read a self-help book.
The males are separated from the boys after two weeks have passed and the thrill has worn off. The reality sets in that developing this habit will require unglamorous effort every freaking day, and that, like straight razor shaving, you’ll have to sharpen and polish your razor repeatedly. It turns into a test of stamina. The idea is to avoid sacrificing your long-term goals in favor of how you feel right now. Allowing your brain to convince you that your present suffering will persist permanently is a mistake. It is not going to happen. You’ll eventually carve out that new route, things will get simpler, even instinctive, and you’ll realize how satisfying it is to get into the groove.
So, let’s stop staring at our feet, roll up our sleeves, and get to work on developing habits that will help us become the men we want to be!
Listen to our podcast on the science of habit formation and breakage:
“how to get rid of bad habits essay” is a common question that people ask. The answer is not as easy as it seems, but quitting bad habits and making good ones will be worth the effort.
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