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7 Excuses You Make That Make Breaking Bad Habits So Difficult

7 Excuses You Make That Make Breaking Bad Habits So Difficult

Bad habits can be very difficult to break. However, with enough inner motivation and persistence, you can emerge victorious. The first step to ditching a bad habit is identifying the excuses that make them so difficult to break.

But I tried to quit – it’s just too hard!

Trying to quit a bad habit is admirable. However, long term success is out of reach without patience. Breaking bad habits can take time and focus. It may even require more than one try. Do not give up trying to break a bad habit just because you weren’t successful on your first attempt. Focus on your goal and keep trying until you’ve conquered it.

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But my habit is not hurting anyone else.

This is a common excuse for individuals battling with habits that abuse the body. It is important to realize that bad habits can have a domino effect. Regardless of the excuses you make, if a habit affects you negatively, then it also affects the ones who love you. So be proactive in breaking your habit. Enlist the help of those who care about your well-being. You don’t have to fight your habits alone.

But I have to do this because I can’t help myself.

You can only conquer your bad habits when you make it your aim to take responsibility for your own choices. At some point you’ll need to stop the carriage ride and take the reins. Eliminate “I can’t” from your vocabulary, and refuse to give in to your habits.

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But since I’m still young, I have plenty of time to quit.

If a habit is bad for your health, then it is never too soon to eradicate it. Regardless of your age, you need your body to continue working properly in order to continue living! Youth is not an excuse to procrastinate. Youth is actually the best time to quit a harmful habit. If you stop while you’re still young, you won’t have to risk ruining your body and even shortening your overall life expectancy.

But I don’t even have a bad habit.

Denial is at the root of many bad habits. If you do not acknowledge your bad habit, you will not be able to get rid of it. Accepting the fact that you have a bad habit is the first step in eliminating it. Acknowledge your weakness and then strive to rise above it.

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But it can’t be that bad because my friends still do it.

Do your friends know everything? Certainly not! Your friends do not know the answers to all of life’s questions. You are the expert on yourself, and you do not need someone else to dictate which habit you’ll keep and which habit you’ll break. Make it your determination to stop hiding behind your friends and ditch this excuse. Regardless of your age, birds of a feather flock together. So while your friends may very well be embracing their bad habit, but that does not mean that you must do the same thing.  Do your own research and allow your findings to motivate you to break your bad habit right away.

But my habits aren’t serious.

Downplaying the importance of a habit is a very common excuse. In some cases bad habits can pose a threat on a day to day basis. Research your habit and speak to an expert. If your habit truly is serious, then the truth will come out. Recognize the seriousness of the bad habit, and be determined to eliminate it once and for all.

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Excuses impede progress. Once you learn how to identify your excuses, you will be on your way to eradicating bad habits for good.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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