• Maud Vanhoutte

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You are responsible for your own life experiences: break your bad habits.

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Understanding bad habits


“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit”. Aristotle


Have you ever taken the time to identify your good and bad habits? Do you know how they influence your life? Which of your habits would be challenging to change?


Habits are gestures, thoughts, routines that you repeat automatically, always identically. Habits can be beneficial, they help you organise and enjoy your day (sport, diet, sleep...). Habits can also be negative like smoking, drinking too much or gambling. Bad habits have bad consequences. The main problem with bad habits is the lack of control you have left. This is why it is essential to identify your negative and bad habits to take control of your life. If you manage to get rid of your unhealthy habits, you can have a real positive impact on your life and success.


What really makes something a bad habit? Is it something suggestive? A vegetarian might feel that the habit of eating meat is bad when the meat-eater will disagree. How can you define a bad habit? The first notion to define bad habits is the repetitive pattern. Something that you only do once or once in a while isn’t really a habit. The second aspect of a bad habit is that it is a negative behaviour or that it leads to something negative. A bad habit is often something defined as negative by society, it sometimes breaks the laws or highly annoys or repulses people. The third aspect of a habit is the opportunity to stop or change the action or behaviour. You have the power over your habits, they are under your control. The final important aspect of bad habits is their ability to affect your health or wellness while keeping you away from reaching your full potential.


Impact of negative bad habits


When you let bad habits drive your day, your actions and your thoughts, they negatively impact your life. Some consequences of bad habits are:


● Social disconnection

● Dissatisfaction

● Challenged self-confidence

● Negative self-talk

● Lack of freedom

● Negative thinking

● Conflicts

● Health issues

● Waste of time, money, energy

● Reduced productivity

...


Some typical bad habits to break


When it comes to bad habits, we can all be creative and come with our own ones. I really advise that you put your list together to assess your personal habits. There are a few bad habits that we encounter a lot around us. We can easily list smoking, gambling, alcohol, soda, energy drinks... Other bad habits can be more subtle or specific:


● Too much time on social media and screens

● Not getting enough sleep

● Being late

● Checking your phone when discussing with people

● Emotional eating

● Procrastination

● Overspending

● Energy waste

● Biting fingernails

● Grinding teeth

● Sitting for hours without moving

● Being pessimistic

● Negative self-talk

● Bragging

...


You can find a list of nearly 300 bad habits on the ‘Develop good habits’ website.


Impact of positive good habits


When you decide to adopt good and healthy good habits, you positively impact your life. Some positive consequences of good habits are:


● Satisfaction

● Improved lifestyle

● Health

● Self-confidence

● Happiness

● Friendships

● Better sleep

● Success


When listing the positive impact of good habits as opposed to the negative impact of bad habits, it is easy to say that good habits are a wiser choice. Bad habits mostly lead to negative results and it always takes you more time, money and energy.


Some positive good habits to adopt


Everyone is different and will select the right ingredient for a more balanced life. Some good habits to adopt are:


● Laugh and smile as much as you can

● Get some sun

● A healthy diet starts with a breakfast

● Physical activity

● Enough sleep

● Less social media

● Quit smoking

● Fewer sodas, coffee, tea, alcohol

● More water

● Surround yourself with positive people

● Express gratitude

● Breath, stretch and meditate

● Keep some time for your hobbies

● Write down your thoughts

Turn negative to positive

...


Breaking bad habits and creating good ones


Step 1: Be more aware of your bad habits


Your first step to break your bad habits and develop good ones is to develop your awareness. To do so you will want to start a list of your bad habits to break. Focus on different aspects of your life: health, work, hobbies, family, sport, food, shopping… To help you with the process, you can ask relatives and friends to share their feedback with you. You will be able to complete this list later.


Step 2: Break bad habits


Look at your bad habits and ask yourself which one you want to address first. Don’t try to start with everything at the same time, you need focus and discipline. Once you have the negative habit that you want to break, balance it with a new good habit that you want to adopt and focus on those two: developing the good habit while reducing the bad one. Focus on your action plan and to-do-list. To be more prepared, try to imagine what will be challenging and what could go wrong. For everything that could challenge you or go wrong, you will think of options and solutions. Allow time to successfully break a bad habit and create a new one.

Once you successfully replace the old bad habit with a new one, reflect on the journey. Take the time to celebrate your accomplishment. You are now ready to address your bad habit number 2 and to replace it with a good habit.


Step 3: Create new habits


Some bad habits are really time-consuming and can leave you with some extra free time. It is important to fill this free time with good habits and activities to avoid going back to a bad habit. Don’t overcommit in a way that would make you lose focus but don’t keep this new free time unoccupied.


Step 4: Keep your focus and do not give up


Evolving and changing isn’t an easy process. It requires time, motivation and focus. When things get hard, you might even think of giving up. To help you resist the temptation of going back to your bad habit(s), look back at your journey. See how much you already achieve and focus on what’s already done. You will want to highlight every positive aspect of giving up a bad habit to a good one. That’s how you will get the energy to continue.


Maud Vanhoutte



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