I’ve talked a lot about strategies to build up your good habits, but what if you have a bad habit that you want to curb? What’s the best way to break a bad habit? With the calorie-laden patio season in full swing, now is a great time to discuss this topic. Here are 2 tips I use regularly to try breaking bad habits.

2 Strategies to Break a Bad Habit

1. Make the habit difficult.

Restrict your choices so that it’s impossible to complete the unwanted action. We’re wired to make things as easy on ourselves as possible, so adding roadblocks to a bad habit, will minimize it. Here are a few examples to demonstrate what I mean:

  • If you want to start limiting your portion sizes, every time you’re at a restaurant, ask for half the meal to be boxed before if even comes to the table. When serving your meals at home, use small plates and put any leftovers away before you can go in for a second helping.
  • Increasing daily movement can be encouraged by you leaving your car keys with your roommate or a neighbor and not allowing them to give you the keys more than one day a week. Even having to walk to the closest transit station versus driving, will lead to more daily movement.
  • If limiting alcohol or junk food is your goal, don’t have these items around and available in your home. Out of site really does lead to out of mind.

When you make it challenging to follow through with a bad habit, you will start curbing it. It will become less attractive.

Increase your daily movement by walking up the stairs vs taking the elevator.

2. Create a negative consequence for each time you follow the unwanted action.

A bad and immediate outcome will reduce your likelihood of repeating the unwanted behaviour. Write on a list one or two key bad habits that you’re looking to change. They may be limiting your restaurant meals, getting to bed earlier each night or cutting back on drinking alcohol or sugary drinks. Now, come up with a bad consequence for you to follow through on anytime you complete this unwanted action. Some ideas that I’ve seen work are:

  • Give your spouse, child or sibling $50 each time you perform the bad habit.
  • Force yourself to clean the entire home alone.
  • Let your significant other pick the TV shows for a week.
  • Force yourself to dress in business attire one full weekend day.

Have some fun getting creative with this. When there’s a negative consequence associated with your actions, you’ll begin changing them pretty quickly! It helps to have an accountability partner to share your daily successes or challenges with. They can help motivate and push you to the next level of success.

To Sum it up…2 Ways to Break a Bad Habit

When you have a bad habit to break, I’ve found it helps to make the unwanted behaviour difficult. When you make it challenging to follow through with a bad habit, it will become less attractive and you’ll perform it less. Another strategy I use to stop undesirable conduct, is to create a negative consequence each time the habit is followed. Coming up with a big enough penalty for yourself when you perform the unwanted action, will get you to stop it pretty quickly.

If you have a bad habit that you’re looking to break, try one of these strategies and let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you.