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

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How to Break Bad Habits: I Broke 3 Bad Habits in 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 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.

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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

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.

    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.

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    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 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.[2] This helps you to find the source to your stress or limiting negative beliefs.

    Alternate: Find a Replacement

    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.

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      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 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.

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        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 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

        Featured photo credit: Adrian Swancar via unsplash.com

        Reference

        More by this author

        Leon Ho

        Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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        Last Updated on January 13, 2022

        How to Use Travel Time Effectively

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        How to Use Travel Time Effectively

        Most of us associate travel and time with what we’re going to do one we get to our destination. Planning and mapping out what to do once you arrive can certainly make for a more pleasurable vacation, but there are things you can do while you are on your way that can make it even better.

        Sure, you can plan for the things you’re going to do on your vacation while you are travelling en route – but what about making use of that time for other things that you don’t usually do when you’re at home? You don’t need to have your gadgets with you to do it, and you can really connect with yourself if you take the time to manage your life while heading towards your vacation destination.

        Here are some great tips to help you with your time management while you travel, some of which are more conventional than others. Nonetheless, you can find out what works best for you and apply them accordingly depending on when and how you are travelling.

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        1. Take Your Time Getting There

        As I write this, I’m on a flight to San Francisco. Flying is the fastest way to get from place to place, and for many people it’s really the only way to travel.

        But I’ve often taken the train or ferry on trips so that I have extra time without distraction to get more done. I’m not worrying about navigation or lack of space to do what I want to do. Instead I’m able to focus on getting stuff done during the time I’ve got without feeling rushed. For example, when I took the train from Vancouver to Portland, it was an eight hour trip and I managed to get a ton of writing done and closed a lot of open loops. It also was less expensive than flying, which was a bonus.

        Sometimes taking the long way to get somewhere on vacation can be the best thing for you to get somewhere with your life.

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        2. Go Gadget-Free

        This is going to be a tough one for a lot of you. But why do you need to bring your gadgets with you when you go on vacation? It isn’t be a bad idea to leave all but one of them behind, and only pull out that one when you absolutely need to do so. In some countries, you’d be wise to be discreet with them anyway since flaunting them in front of those that are less fortunate than you isn’t a good practice. While it may not seem like flaunting to you, in different cultures it can definitely come across that way.

        If you can’t go gadget-free, then at least go Internet-free. If you use a task management app that requires syncing across your multiple devices to be effective, remember that if you only have the one device with you then it can be the “master device” for the time being and will store your data locally anyway. Just sync up when you get home.

        3. Reflect and Prepare

        Finally, going on any sort of excursion gives you the perfect opportunity to reflect on where you’ve been. The fact you have removed yourself from where you usually are can give you a perspective that you simply can’t get when you’re at home. You may want to journal your thoughts during this time – and by taking more time to get to your destination you’ll have more time to dig deeper into it.

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        After a period of reflection – however long that happens to be – you can then begin to not only prepare for the rest of your travels, you can prepare for the rest of what happens afterward. The reflection period is important, though. You need to really know where you’ve been in order to properly look at where you want to be. Time away from things gives you that chance.

        Conclusion

        Traveling isn’t always about where you’re going and how quickly you can get there. In fact, it’s rarely about that at all.

        More often it’s where you’re at in your head that will dictate how much you benefit from traveling. So don’t just go somewhere fast. Instead, take your time on the way there and take the time to connect with not only where you are but who are while you’re there.

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        If you do that, you’ll have a better chance to be who you want to be when you leave.

        Featured photo credit: bruce mars via unsplash.com

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