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4 Tips for Breaking Bad Habits

4 Tips for Breaking Bad Habits

Do you find yourself unconsciously biting your nails, fidgeting, procrastinating, or reaching for a cigarette? Have you ever tried to quit, only to relapse within a few days? You’re not alone. Many people unknowingly acquire bad habits that continue for months, or even years, and never do anything to change their life. But no matter how long you’ve harbored your habit, you can always break free. Here’s a short list of the most effective ways to break any bad habit.

1. Awareness

The first step to breaking a habit is to become aware of its existence. Surprisingly, many people never reach this step; some habits form as early as childhood, often picked up from mimicking parents or guardians, and seem completely normal. These habits are the hardest to break, and you may require a little help from your friends and loved ones. Ask them if they’ve ever noticed any bad habits of yours (they’ll want to know of theirs, too). Once you’ve become aware of the habit, visualize yourself in a tempting situation and mentally practice good behavior over the bad habit. If you can dream it, you can do it.

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2. Cold Turkey

If you’re well aware of your habit and it still gets the better of you, you may need to rearrange your life a little bit. Try tracking your habit: keep a list of when, where, and why your habit appears so you can more effectively remove the behavior from your life. This may mean taking different routes to work or school, or avoiding certain people who tend to bring out your bad side for a while, until you feel confident that the habit is kicked. If your habit involves substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, or marijuana, this means immediately and completely abstaining from it, and even suffering through withdrawal. But this is good; it’s the first step in becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be.

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3. The Tier Method

Self-control is like a muscle that needs to be strengthened through practice. If you find that you can’t give up a habit in one fell swoop — which can actually increase cravings and put you at risk for relapse — you may need to wean yourself off of a certain behavior. The most popular way of doing this is by systematically cutting back your intake by half at regular intervals. For example, if you’re used to drinking 30 beers a week, force yourself to only drink 15 for a given period of time. Eventually, when you feel you’re ready, lower it to 7-8, then 3-4, etc. until you’re no longer compelled to overindulge and you can exert control over your habit. By putting your habit (or addiction) in hindsight, you’ll begin to see the beauty of the present moment (most addicts are blind) and enjoy a new-found freedom of choice.

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4. Replacement

Now that you’ve become aware of your habit and are taking steps to remove it from your everyday life, you must ensure that the habit won’t ever return. Withdrawal from any activity causes the reward centers in our brain to crave stimulation, even if it’s negative or harmful, so you must counteract this with positive replacements such as hobbies, physical activities, or creativity. How do you fulfill yourself? People overcome with bad habits don’t believe in themselves enough to change; every day you must consciously choose to be the person you want to be. A morning stretch is a much better habit than that first cigarette of the day, don’t you think?

However helpful these tips are, the most important part of breaking a bad habit for good is really wanting to quit on a deep personal level in order to move on with your life. Most people have to hit a “rock bottom,” when their lives have become so desperate that they have no choice but to face their problems or suffer dire consequences. But you don’t have to. Just think about how much better your life will be without your bad habit, and start making a change today.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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