The cycle of bad habits is what keeps us living small and stops us from reaching our true potential. Breaking a bad habit isn’t as hard as it seems; despite being a CEO of a company and raising two children, I still managed to break 3 bad habits I had within 2 months. Yes, that means I learned how to break bad habits in less than 21 days.
I took steps to eliminate them one at a time. Habits such as drinking Coke every day, slouching when sitting, and not having a consistent exercise routine.
How did I break these habits? I used the Control Alternate Delete Method (Ctrl Alt Del).
What is this method, and why is it so effective? Read on to find out how to break bad habits with this unique method.
How to Break Bad Habits With the Control Alternate Delete Method
We all notice on some level what our bad habits are. A lot of the time, we choose to ignore the negative effects the habit can lead to.
For me, I was sitting most of the day in front of my computer at work in a slouching position. I drank Coke every single day in an attempt to stay awake. I put off any kind of exercise regime because I felt that it was better to just relax and have fun after a whole day of work.
As a result, I was leading a very unhealthy lifestyle, suffering from weight gain and back pain. I needed to make a change.
I started to read books about building habits such as The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, The One Thing by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan, and The Now Habit by Neil Fiore. After reading all these books, I’ve come up with my own method to quit bad habits—the Ctrl Alt Del Method.
I started by focusing on just one bad habit, the first one being the sheer amount of Coke I was consuming each day.
Every day, I applied the Ctrl Alt Del Method, and after two weeks, not only did I stop drinking Coke every day (I only drank one can in 2 weeks), but I started the better habit of drinking 8 glasses of water every day instead.
After eliminating one bad habit, I moved on to the other two with this same method, and a month later I was:
- Hitting the gym twice a week.
- Improving my sitting posture, not only at the office but also at home and everywhere else, improving my back pain.
- Gaining core muscle, which improved my back pain as well.
- Losing fat around my waist, which went from 36″ (considered obese level) to 32″ (normal level).
If I can improve my life using this method, then so can you. Using this structure to eliminate your bad habits will increase your success and replace your bad habits with more positive ones.
Control: Master Your Desire
Identify Your Triggers
Bad habits, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, and snacking too much, trigger the release of dopamine, a feel-good chemical in the brain. Although you might not like the end result, they give you a positive outcome in the moment.
When learning how to break bad habits, It’s important to identify what is triggering you to continually act out your habit. This isn’t always an easy step because our habits have been built up over a long period of time.
If you need help in identifying your triggers, here’s a list of common bad habits and their triggers: 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away
To help you work out your triggers, do a bit of self-reflection. Ask yourself questions such as:
- What comfort are you getting from this habit?
- Why do you need comfort?
For example, I chose to drink Coke because it tasted good, and it made me feel good when I was stressed. I slouched only when I sat for too long working at my desk and started to feel tired. I skipped exercises because every day after work I felt I already did enough work and didn’t want to work out.
If you choose to eat fast food every night, you’re probably telling yourself you’re too busy to cook, but ask yourself why. What are your priorities?
Maybe you have a lack of self-worth that means you don’t have the self-love to want to look after your health. Perhaps it’s a sign you’re not making enough time for important routines like shopping and creating a healthy meal yourself to avoid junk food. Maybe you’ve always had a belief that you’re a bad cook.
Write a Diary
As you’re learning how to break bad habits, write down your thoughts and feelings around each habit. Writing things down forces the brain to think harder. This helps you to find the source to your stress or limiting negative beliefs.
Alternate: Find a Replacement
Find a Positive Alternative Habit
Once you think you’ve discovered your trigger, try to find a similar but healthy good habit. This is where I replaced Coke with lemon water; slouching with simply taking a walk and stretching my back every hour; and chilling at home after work with workout exercises that I actually found fun.
When learning how to break bad habits, you could decide to walk to the office instead of driving or getting off the bus earlier to walk. You could switch to a healthier breakfast cereal instead of grabbing a sugary snack when you head out the door.
By doing this, you aren’t getting rid of the act altogether like you would if you completely gave something up with nothing to fill that void. This helps your brain accept the improved habit more.
Create a Defense Plan
Everyone has moments of weakness when they want to revert back to the bad habit. This is where a plan can help counteract these moments.
Think of things you can do when the temptations come. For example, if you want to check your phone less, ask your friend or partner to keep it for you or switch it off and read a book. If you’re just starting an exercise routine, get someone to do it with you to keep you accountable.
Decide on something you will do once you feel triggered to go back to your old habit. Repeating these positive alternative habits consistently will help wire your brain to see them as your normal new habit over time.
Delete: Remove Temptations
Remove Stuff That Reminds You of the Bad Habit
Getting rid of anything that reminds you of your bad habit is essential when you’re learning how to break bad habits. For example, I got rid of Coke in my office and at home and replaced my usual office chair with an exercise ball. It makes it much easier to stop slipping back in a weak moment.
Avoid All Kinds of Temptations
In the same vein, avoid places or people that you know will tempt you back into that bad habit. Don’t go to the supermarket on an empty stomach to avoid the temptation to buy trashy snacks; don’t drive past that fast food joint, but find an alternative route instead; say no more often to the friend you know will get you drunk again this weekend.
It’s all about not putting yourself in the situation where you’re in danger of relapsing.
The Control Alternate Delete Method uses the right steps you need to overcome your need to indulge in your bad habits. Working with your core psychology, emotions, and feelings behind your actions is what makes this method effective and easy to apply to all bad habits you have.
Bad habits form easily, and making changes can seem difficult, but the good news is that it’s all about consistency and repetition in the long term.
Start using the Control Alternate Delete Method today and you can learn how to break bad habits permanently.
More Tips on Changing Habits
- Do You Really Understand What a Habit Is?
- How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop
- How Long Does It Take to Break a Habit? Science Will Tell You
- 24 Best Habit Tracking Apps
Featured photo credit: Adrian Swancar via unsplash.com