Bad habits…We’ve all got them. And we wish they would… Just. Go. Away.

But we’re absolutely stuck.

It seems like we’re destined to repeat our same behaviours over and over every single day, caught in a horrible loop like Bill Murray’s character in the movie, “Groundhog Day”.

If you’re keen on personal development, reaching your goals in life and feeling more inspired and confident, then you need to pay close attention to your habits.

What Makes a Habit “Bad”?

We need to get clear on what a bad habit is so that we know exactly what we’re dealing with and how we can start making habit changes that will last. Sometimes we’re not even aware that some of our habits are limiting us, harming us and blocking us from reaching our goals.

What is a bad habit? A bad habit damages or erodes your health, relationships, finances and happiness.

Any habitual behaviours you have that harm these important areas of your life are bad habits. You gotta chuck ’em ASAFP. You know what the “F” stands for.

Step 1: Identify Your Three Most Problematic Habits

“Only three?”, you ask, incredulously. “But I’ve got dozens of bad habits and I need to get rid of all of them now!”

To get the best results, you need to have laser-like focus and this means concentrating only on the habits that cause you the most pain and problems. If you try to work on too many habits at the same time, it’ll be a watered-down effort and you’ll get poor results. There’s the risk of getting discouraged and distracted if you’re working on too many habits at the same time.

When you write down your three most problematic habits, you will be acknowledging and recognizing that you do have unwanted habits that are disruptive in your life, ruining your finances, eating at away at your good health and well-being, and damaging your relationships. Your first step is to recognize that you want to change.

Step 2: List All the Negatives of Your Three Bad Habits

Next to your three bad habits, write down all negatives and all the problems your habit causes you. Take your time with this step and be thorough. The more negatives, the better.

This will help you build the motivation to get rid of your habits. You’ll see how essential and urgent it is for you to change your habits. Over the next few weeks, you can refer to your list of negatives to remind yourself why you need to stop your bad habit (eating an entire carton of Rocky Road ice cream a few times a week, while listening to Celine Dion. Wow… that is a bad habit.)

Step 3: Create Your Success Plan

In your success plan, answer a few questions such as:

How can you make your success inevitable? What actions do you need to take? What do you need to stop doing?

You might need to reduce your time with anyone who is a negative influence on you. You might need to get some help, get a trainer, buy a gym membership, freeze spending on your credit cards, sell possessions to raise cash and lower expenses…Brainstorm all possible ideas you might do to tackle your bad habit.

Keep your answers brief but specific and action-oriented.

Don’t make your actions and habit goals too difficult for yourself or there is a good chance you will give up too soon.

Step 4: Track Your Habits

Record your efforts daily in your calendar, notebook or a habit-tracker app. Be accurate and specific. Use consistent metrics, if possible.

Example habit-tracking (of someone who wants to exercise and minimize alcohol):

Monday: -drank two bottles of beer, walked 30 minutes
Tuesday: -ran for 20 minutes, had 1 glass of wine

Tracking your habits also helps you with your next step to saying “hasta la vista” to a bad habit.

Step 5: Get Accountable and Stay Accountable

While we’re starting to cultivate more discipline, we need stay accountable to ourselves. Tracking your habits is just one way. Tell a few trusted friends or family members about your habit goals. Seek out any resources you need to increase chances of success (such as books, personal development videos and podcasts, a mentor, get medical help, coaching, etc…).

Accountability works if you use it regularly.

Drop Your Bad Habits Forever

The key to get rid of a bad habit is for you to keep up your motivation (this is what Step 2 is for). You need to have very compelling reasons for why you want to kick your bad habits.

And you need to tell yourself your reasons constantly.

You need to give yourself some urgency around this. Look at all the negative consequences of what might happen to you if you keep giving in to your habits, your vices.

Can you really drop a bad habit forever? Yes, but it’s probably going to take some serious mind re-programming and some time. Don’t let your habits continue to own you. By applying and reapplying the above steps, you will gain mastery over your habits.

What’s your worst bad habit that you’re struggling with right now? Leave a comment below or email me personally.