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How to Break Bad Habits: I Broke 3 Bad Habits in Less Than 2 Months

How to Break Bad Habits: I Broke 3 Bad Habits in Less Than 2 Months

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’s quitting one habit 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.

So 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 ways these impact us.

    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 really unhealthy lifestyle suffering from weight gain and back pain.

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    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.[1] Although you might not like the end result, they give you a positive outcome in the moment. This is pure psychology.

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      It’s important to identify what is triggering you to continually act out your bad 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

      Self-reflect

      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 on my desk and started to feel tired. I skipped exercises because every day after work I felt I already did enough works 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. Maybe you’ve always had a belief that you’re a bad cook.

      Write a diary

      Write down your thoughts and feelings around this bad habit. Writing things down forces the brain to think harder.[2] This helps you to find the source to your stress or limiting negative beliefs.

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      Alternate: Find a replacement

        Find a positive alternative habit

        Once you think you’ve discovered your trigger, try to find a similar but healthy option. 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.

        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 of 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 defence plan

        Everyone has moments of weakness and that want to revert back to the bad habit will rear its ugly head. 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 a starter for an exercise routine, like me, 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. 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.

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          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.

          Conclusion

          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 are easy to form and making changes can seem difficult but remember that it’s all about consistency and repetition.

          Start using the Control Alternate Delete Method today and you can stop a bad habit permanently.

          What bad habit do you want to put a stop to once and for all? You must set aside time and pick one bad habit to focus on. Start using the steps to increase and maintain more positivity in your life moving forward.

          More Resources About Changing Habits

          Featured photo credit: Picjumbo via picjumbo.com

          Reference

          More by this author

          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Last Updated on September 18, 2020

          How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week

          How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week

          Time is a great leveler isn’t it? We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Even if you’re self-assured, the day may never feel quite long enough.

          Why is it that some people can be so much more productive and achieve so much more in a typical day, while others struggle to achieve anything apart from feeling time crunched and overwhelmed?

          Everyone I know and work with wants to make the best use of their time. They want to learn how to be more self-assured, happier, and work less—all while growing in their career.

          How effectively we use our time—and how we actually work in our business—can make a huge difference to the amount we accomplish in a day or week. It can also make us more focused and more confident.

          Do you want to have more thinking and creative time? Do you want to spend more time working on your business rather than working at or in your business? In this article, we’ll show you how.

          Get More Done by Gaining Confidence

          What if you had a strategy for making the best use of your time that brings you more joy and allows you to focus on the biggest activities and opportunities in your business? You may find the following outline below to be helpful:

          1. Create an Exciting Vision

          If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know when you get there?

          You want to be more productive and spend more time getting the right stuff done. Well, you need to create a compelling and exciting vision of your future.

          What does this future look like? How will you feel when you get there?

          Creating a new vision, especially one that is a lot bigger than where you are right now, has a way of igniting your passion. It may be something that feels hard to achieve, but every step you take towards that bigger vision will certainly build your confidence.

          Create a vision board to feel more self-assured.

            Commitment to this vision, and accomplishing continual daily progress depends on your ability to look at any situation you’re faced with or currently in, feel self-assured, and see something bigger ahead.

            Also, when you know where you’re headed, you will instinctively start to see all the new opportunities and connections that will get you there.

            Make a vision map to get you started on the path to better productivity. This doesn’t have to be fully actualized, but you should know at least what direction you are heading.

            2. Build a Strategic Plan

            Once you have your future vision mapped out, the next step is to build a strategic plan to get you there.

            Your future vision may be for 3 years or 5 years, or you may choose a longer time frame. Any timeframe over 3 years may feel like a long way away.

            You may wonder how you are ever going to feel confident and motivated on this bigger future years from now when you feel as though you have so much to accomplish today.

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            The first step is to decide on some specific goals for the next 12 months. Don’t list too many or you may begin to feel overwhelmed.

            The magic number for me and my clients is usually five annual goals.

            These are big goals that will create massive change in your business and life and bridge your current situation to your bigger future; accomplishing these goals one by one will help to increase your confidence on a daily basis.

            3. Get on Goal Planning

            Get yourself a piece of blank paper and a pen and divide the paper into 4 columns: A, B, C, and D.

            Ask yourself the question: What is great in my business and life right now? Write these things down in Column A. This might be a couple of things, five things, ten things, whatever feels right to you.

            Then ask yourself: What things are happening right now that I don’t want in my future? Write these things down in Column B.

            This is your opportunity to take a step back and look at the things that are simply not working. You may list people that are bringing you down or projects that you don’t want to work on any more. Maybe you’ll include a service offering that’s going nowhere. It could be the people you’re working with, or it could be your pricing.

            Now, let’s look at your personal strengths. Write down everything that you’re great at in Column C.

            These could be things that you’re doing right now and having success with. It could also be things you know you’re awesome at but you’re not spending enough time on.

            Column D is for your biggest opportunities. Is there a new service/product you could offer your ideal customers? Is there a new innovation you could bring to market? Just take some time out and really think and list these things in Column D.

            Once you’ve analyzed everything you’ve written down, take some time to really think about what goals you want to set for your business and life in the next 12 months.

            4. Set Outcomes to Build Confidence

            You now have your goals, and you’ll feel self-assured and raring to go. They are written down and you’re committed to achieving them. You feel self-assured and motivated.

            But how do you ensure that you stay on the correct course to achieve these goals?

            Managing and juggling day-to-day projects can get in the way. Dealing with problems can get in the way. Staying on top of orders, managing cash flow, and handling day-to-day stuff can move your ship off course.

            You want to be productive and achieve your goals, but you also need to ensure the day and week runs smoothly.

            One way to ensure this happens is to set 90 Day Outcome Goals; within those Outcome Goals, put some specific process goals that need to be undertaken.

            Let’s say you want to get 10 more speaking jobs in the next 90 days, and you know that you typically convert 50% of opportunities.

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            Therefore, your process goal needs to be to have 20 conversations in the next 90 Days to deliver the 10 new pieces of work. You will then work out who you can have those conversations with.

            It’s smart to overshoot, so you will more easily hit your target. This is a clear plan to work through because with every win, your confidence will grow.

            5. Completely Commit to Your Success

            If you are not truly committed to achieving your goals, then chances are that you won’t reach them.

            Motivation can only take you so far. It is the intentional commitment[1] and emotional investment in your future success that will move you forward.

            Think back to any time that you really committed to achieving something. There must have been a reason you actually achieved what you set out to achieve. What motivated you?

            Were you fully invested? Why did it matter? Did you have to be really courageous to achieve it?

            How did it feel when you achieved it? What difference did it make?

            When have you felt truly self-assured? When you are committed to something, then you are propelled into action. Your mindset is focused, and your body follows; you want to get it done.

            And, when you do get it done, your confidence goes through the roof. You feel a level of certainty in achieving the goal you set out to accomplish.

            6. Focus on Your Strengths

            To feel self-assured and build up the confidence needed to achieve our biggest goals, we need to focus on our strengths.

            What are you best at? What are your unique skills? You want to spend as much time as you can working in the areas that you’re great at.

            Multiply your strengths. These areas are where you add the biggest value. They often bring you the biggest amount of joy, and you feel more and more confident when you are using your unique skills.

            If you think there is a specific capability you need to learn or be better at, spend more focused time in that area.

            Many of us want to do it all. We want to be good at everything. We want to offer a lot of services. But, in reality, there are some very specific things we are great at; nobody is good at everything!

            Spending more time adding value in the areas where you excel can create breakthrough results and boost confidence.

            7. Embrace the Present

            Sometimes we spend so much time thinking about the future or worrying about the past that we forget the present moment[2].

            Are you spending most of your day reacting to things, or have you taken the time to think about what your perfect day looks like?

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            We all have the opportunity to create rather than react, to decide what we do with our day. All of our future success can be created in the present moment if we just take a step back and take action.

            Sometimes, doing it now is more important than doing it perfectly. There are hidden opportunities in every moment. We need to make sure we don’t miss them if we want to feel self-assured.

            8. Calm the Whirlwind

            The day-to-day life in business and life can be hard, which leads us to feel less self-assured.

            Your mind may be full to bursting with all of the things you feel you have to do. The phrase “I don’t have time” has almost become an instant reaction by so many people when new opportunities are presented.

            There is a whirlwind happening inside our minds.

            Appointments, notifications, tasks, phone calls, errands, cash flow, staffing issues, networking, marketing all can clutter up our timeline. The sheer volume of things we feel we should do creates procrastination, stopping us from pursuing the projects and people that matter.

            Many of us feel we have to do everything within our business.

            Rather than simplifying things and doing less, we do more. We work longer, which creates a lack of energy and focus. Because of this, we lose clarity on our biggest opportunities. If you feel this way, take some well-deserved time off.

            Look at where you’re spending your time. How much of your time is being spent moving your ideas forward?

            In the next 90 days, if you could delegate or outsource more daily tasks and spend more time focusing on where you add the biggest value, what difference would it make?

            Calm the whirlwind by slowing down and doing less.

            Focus on areas that you add the biggest amount of value. By doing this, your energy levels will increase, your confidence will grow and you will have more success.

            9. Take More Time off

            This may seem counterintuitive, but taking more time off to recharge and refocus can pay huge dividends.

            If you are constantly fighting fires and caught up in the myriad of different activities that you have to do each day, then how can you move your business forward?

            You may be being pulled in difference directions without any focused time on your biggest projects. If that’s the case, then it’s almost impossible to gain any real momentum in moving your business forward and hitting your goals.

            The best way to get off that treadmill is to take more creative time out of the business.

            Could you realistically take one day off per month to work on your business? If you could, what would you do with this time?

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            Just imagine no distractions, only focused time on the strategic development and growth of your business.

            Every day off per month could have a different focus: New product innovation; Thinking about your biggest clients; Improving operations.

            Add to this a quarterly review to check in with your goals progress, and this could have a dramatic effect on where you spend your valuable time.

            10. Celebrate Wins

            Sometimes you just want to get through the day, right?

            You have so much to do. There are so many things on your task list that you just complete what you can and then start another day. But what would happen if, at the end of each day, you took some time out to look at what you’ve accomplished?

            Celebrating success keeps you motivated and helps you become more self-assured. It is not just another day. It’s a day that included things that should be celebrated.

            If you’re struggling to feel motivated, try celebrating a couple of wins each day.

            Celebrating success combined with the gratitude you have for achieving those wins will boost your confidence and inspire you for the next day.

            11. Give Yourself More Space

            When was the last time you gave yourself time to think?

            Within the hustle and bustle, it can be difficult to give yourself a little bit of space and time to just think[3].

            Imagine giving yourself just an hour a day to just let your mind wander or think about a specific thing.

            If you think about it, we can all free up an hour a day for something without really losing any efficiency or really impacting our business.

            In fact, that hour could be transformational for your business and life.

            A new idea for a product could form, or an idea for adding value to your existing clients could materialize. Perhaps you could do a check in to your ideal future and your goals. You could decide that you want to take your business in a new direction.

            Try this: Just sit alone for an hour with a notebook and let it be your creative thinking time. See what happens.

            Final Thoughts

            Ultimately, being self-assured happens when you have a clear direction.

            This, coupled with having clear goals and working in your unique skill-set, gives you the biggest opportunity to be more productive and get more of the right things done.

            The old mantra that “less is more” is right on the money. By giving yourself more time to work on your goals, you will inevitably increase your confidence; at this point, your ideal future can be anything you want it to be.

            More on How to Be Self-Assured

            Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

            Reference

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