Are you struggling to eliminate bad habits or stop repeating certain behaviors? If yes, then I would suggest taking some time to read this article. We’ll talk about five proven steps to break a habit in 21 days.
The problem is that our behavior patterns can become automatic over time. For example, smoking cigarettes has become a regular part of our lives and we don’t realize it.
If you searched for it, you might already know the importance of breaking a bad habit. A bad habit can be the biggest hurdle between you and your success. Getting it aside is very important. We won’t waste much time on its importance and go straight toward how we are going to do this.
It’s very challenging to change something that has become a habit. Breaking bad habits is never easy. The trick is to stay motivated until the new behavior is ingrained into your daily routine. It can be done with practice in these five steps. We will Talk about five steps to help you to break a habit.
Before you start your struggle against your bad habits, it’s important to know that “break a habit in 21 days” is just a myth.
Yeah, you can indeed build or develop a new habit in just 21 days which can go a bit up or down but it stays around 21.
To break a bad habit, it’s different. There is no solid amount of time anyone can say about what one would take to break a habit. It highly depends upon person and habit.
There are many theories on how many days it takes to break a habit. If we keep it realistic, it can take anywhere between 18 to 254 days to change a habit. It is possible to break a habit in 21 days if the habit is not addictive and you are very disciplined.
How Habits are Formed
Before we talk about breaking a habit, knowing how habits are formed is important. I will keep it very short. Habits consist of three components. These components cycle to form a habit. To break a habit, you have to identify these components of habit.
The trigger is a thing, sound, sensation, and feeling that triggers and starts the routine or behavioral action which is your habit.
For Example, an Alarm triggers the habit of waking up early. Feeling hungry at work triggers me to eat chocolate or some sort of sweet.
Routine is the behavioral action that you repeat regularly. The Routine gets started after the trigger triggers it. The behavioral action you want to get rid of is routine.
For example, Eating candy is routine after hunger triggers it
The reward is something that you get after you finish the routine. This is any kind of outcome or a treat that causes you to repeat a routine after you see the trigger again.
For example, the taste of that sweet chocolate is a reward for you to eat it.
Six-Steps to Break a Habit
Now that you understand, how habits are formed. You can understand these steps better to get rid of those bad habits. With the above points in mind, here are six steps that will help you break a habit.
1. Be Clear About “Why”
The first step to doing anything always goes with “why”. Why do you want to do what you want to do? To break a habit you should be clear with yourself, why do you want to break this habit?
Research in 2012 suggests that it may be easier to change your certain behavior when the change you want to make is beneficial and valuable.
Take a few minutes, and think about “why you want to break this habit?” Think about what benefits will you get if you broke this habit. Think of how it will change your life if you successfully broke this habit.
Take a sheet of paper and a pen, and make a list. Start writing down all the reasons why you want to change this habit. Write down all the benefits to break that habit. Now paste that list on your fridge door or your bathroom mirror. Paste it anywhere you will see it regularly.
Seeing that list will stay reminding you of why you are doing this. That list will keep you motivated and whenever you will fall back on a habit that list will help you get stable again.
2. Set Goals
If you want to achieve anything in the world. First, you have to set a goal for it. No one hasn’t achieved anything without setting a goal for it. Whether it’s breaking a habit or developing, everything needs a goal and plan.
To break a bad habit, you need to make a plan and set goals. It can’t be overlooked, setting goals and making plans is important for anyone who wants to break a habit in 21 days. Having something to look at can go long way in helping you to achieve the results you are looking for.
A goal when not written down is like cigarette smoke, it drifts away and vanishes in some time. Make sure to write your goal down on a piece of paper. Preferably, stick it beside the paper with reasons to break the habit.
Having your goal written down for breaking a habit, will put you in a dynamic to achieve that goal.
3. Identify Your Trigger
This is one of the most important steps of breaking a habit. You have to identify the trigger of the habit you want to break. It can be a feeling, sensation, sound, urges, etc.
Spend a few days tracking your habit. Observe your habit and answer these questions;
- Where does habit happen?
- What is the time when it happens?
- Does it happen right after something else you did?
- Do other people are involved in it?
- What do you feel when it happens?
That can help you identify your trigger. I had a bad habit of sleeping late after midnight, which was disturbing my morning routine a lot. I tracked my habit and found out that I usually used to go to sleep late whenever I started to use social media after dinner or started talking with friends at that time.
So, I decided to eliminate the trigger. I started reading a book after dinner and in less than two weeks, I got rid of my late sleeping habit. Now am more productive every morning and go to bed early.
Triggers can be both clear and unclear, It can be hard to identify triggers of some habits. Make sure to spend a good time identifying the trigger. You should always use a pen on paper whenever you observe something.
4. Replace Your Routine
First, you have to make the trigger rare for you. You can’t ignore it fully. If you feel like you want to eat chocolate at work when you feel hungry, you can’t avoid hunger.
Now that trigger is already been engaged, habitually you want to eat sweets like chocolate which is unhealthy. At this point, the more you restrict yourself from the sweet, the more goes towards it. The more you force your urges in, the more they will show action. Eventually, you will eat chocolate again.
A study in 2008 in appetite, discovered that the people who resisted their thoughts about eating chocolate exhibited a behavioral rebound effect, they ended up consuming more chocolate than the people who didn’t resist their thoughts.
Whenever you get the trigger, just change the routine related to the trigger. For example, when you feel hungry at work, instead of resisting chocolate or eating it. Eat some dry fruits and fulfill your need by routine.
By doing this, you are away from a bad habit and developed a good habit of eating dry fruits. It’s very hard to remove a habit but you can replace your habit easily.
5. Be Self-Disciplined
Self-discipline is the most important thing for success in anything in life. You need to be disciplined to break a habit in 21 days. You need an immense amount of discipline to quit a habit that is addictive.
Become determined and stay focused on the goal. If you get successful to discipline yourself, you won’t need motivation anymore to stick with your plan and break the habit.
Self-discipline is restraining yourself from the things that aren’t useful in the long term and doing those instead that will make you happy or successful in the long term. You have to show discipline by sticking to your plan and not cheating yourself.
Like all other good things, being disciplined is also difficult. There will be many times you will think of giving up and fall back into bad habits. Stay disciplined and believe me, it will only get easier with time.
Focus on the process of becoming the person you were born to be.
If you wanna master the skill of developing and breaking habits I recommend you to read “The Power of Habit” by “Charles Duhigg”.
OR you can listen to this book for FREE by signing up for a free monthly trial of Audible. Click the button below
PS: What in your opinion should be the most important step to breaking a habit?