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5 Scientifically-Proven Steps to Breaking Bad Habits

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How To Break Bad Habits

Bad habits, we all have them and reveal them in many different ways. Some may seem relatively harmless, like biting your nails. Others can have deadly consequences, like smoking or drinking to excess. Regardless of the severity of your habits, the same scientifically proven simple set of steps works for helping to break them. You can eradicate these habits once and for all and so get back on track to that healthier happier you.

What’s the magic formula?

  1. Understand why the habit exists in the first place. Most habits begin because we’re not coping well with either stress or boredom. Figuring out the trigger for the habit goes a long way toward figuring out the best way to defeat it. So take a good hard look at yourself over the next week. Write down those times when you found yourself slipping over the course of a week. Write down also what happened JUST BEFORE you indulged in that habit. Do you see any patterns? What do they tell you?
  2. Get motivated. What do you want to change? Why do you want to change it? The ‘why’ is the important part here. List everything. These are your motivators, and they’re going to keep you on track.But motivation goes deeper than that. You need to start seeing YOU as a SUCCESS. You must picture that new you. How does it look? Hold that image close – that’s going to be you before you know it. You can do this!
  3. Make an action plan. Setting goals are great, but you’re going to fail if you don’t also establish how you’re going to get there. Break the goal down into small pieces. If you’re wanting to quit snacking and eating healthier, then your plan might include creating a meal plan and making shopping lists to keep you on track. You might want to take a cooking class. Schedule those things. Then stick to the schedule.
  4. Check your Progress. The last thing you want to do is obsess about how you’re doing, but you do want to have regular check-ups with yourself. Gauge how far you’ve come. Did you slip up? No big deal if you did, simply jump back in where you were – don’t let yourself get derailed. Evaluate your goals. Do you need to do anything differently? Adjust your action plan if you need to.
  5. Seek professional help. When all else fails, it might be that you could use a hand up. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, especially from someone who understands what you’re trying to accomplish.

While the steps might seem simple, the results will speak for themselves. You can lose those bad habits once and for all. Don’t you owe it to yourself to try?

How To Break Bad Habits Resources

Your brain (mind) is often one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to breaking bad habits. So why not focus on that instead of your habits? Rewire: Change Your Brain to Break Bad Habits, Overcome Addictions, Conquer Self-Destructive Behavior

This is my favorite book on habit period. It isn’t just about breaking bad habits, it takes a look at habits in general. Do you ever wonder why you do the things that you do? This book will help you figure that out. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We do in Life and Business

Breaking bad habits is important, but it isn’t helpful if you just break them for a week. This article from shares tips from a psychology professor about how to break bad habits for good.


Ever wish you could change a bad habit in an instant? Have you ever heard someone say, “If you really wanted to change you would just change, just do it.”

Of course you think, “It’s not that easy, if it were I would have done it by now”.  Imagine if it were that easy, we just didn’t have the right techniques to override the pleasurable aspects of our bad habit.

I want to share with you a powerful visualization technique called the swish pattern. I first heard about it while listening to Tony Robbins course Personal Power 2.

So far, I’ve done this visualization about 3 separate times, in an attempt to change my habit of pretty much eating anything that winds up in our kitchen at work, from cookies and donuts to pizza and subs.

A lot of food ends up in that kitchen, and I would bet I’m the one to eat most of it.  If food sticks around long enough to be thrown out, it’s probably cause I mustered up enough willpower, on those days not to eat any of it.

After Tony said to try the swish pattern out on a bad habit you wanted to get rid of, eating donuts and Timbits that wind up in the kitchen was the first thing that came to mind.

Funny enough, the video below actually shows you the technique with the example of wanting to stop eating donuts.  Nice to know many people must have this bad habit.

After doing this technique the first day, then the second and then I did a third day just for good measure, my desire to eat any candy or donuts  has never been so low.

You know how they tell you to think about your goal when these willpower challenges come up, but your goal never seems strong enough to compete with a donut, well at least for me.  

After the swish pattern, as soon as I saw the donut, BOOM, there was my goal and what I would be giving up if I ate one.

I still have to use willpower, sometimes unsuccessful when it comes to other foods I don’t really want to eat. Honestly though I’ve been afraid to use this technique with all the other foods I know I shouldn’t be eating.

I’m afraid because it works so well, my brain isn’t ready to 100% give up that bacon and egg bagel melt on a jalapeno bagel, even though I feel horrible after having it.

I am going to start working on them this weekend. My list of things I want to stop doing, each one would be a different swish pattern visualization:

  • Donuts, Tim bits – Just cause you do the visualization a few  times, doesn’t mean you’ll never have to do it again.
  • Cheap flour cookies – Not the small specialty type. I’d like to have those when I occasionally come across them.
  • Cheap candies
  • Bagels
  • Big Macs
  • Procrastination – On editing my writing, work, updating finances in quicken, working from my do list in Omni focus and lots more I’m sure will surface now that I’m really paying attention.

I love the animation in the first video, but I like the visualization method better the way Tony describes it. Tony’s video was obviously taken many years ago, try not to let that deter you. The swish technique is timeless.

I look forward to hearing what bad habits you used it for and how it’s working.


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