As we discussed in the previous blog, science has shown that there are 5 ways in which a person can break a bad habit. In the previous blog we outlined 3 of those habits, in this blog I will go into the final two ways.
- Give yourself a better reason
Even if you manage to succeed in replacing a bad habit with a good one, the bad habit probably still will give you a bigger reward than this new one. Therefore, for there to be a lasting change, we need to have intrinsic (internal) motivation. For example, we may consciously know that eating so many burgers is bad for our health and that if we stop eating so many burgers we would lose weight, but if losing weight isn’t a strong motivator, then this reasoning won’t work. Rather, find internal motivations which make sense for you – example, being healthier might mean that you live longer, and can spend more years with your family; or eating healthier might give you more energy to do the outdoor activities you used to enjoy doing.
- Set specific goals
Rather than focusing on general goals (I will not eat a cookie on my way out of work), be more specific – how will you implement this goal in your daily life. Think about all the ways you did the activity of eating cooking, and think about ways to avoid it (ex. To not eat a cookie after work, I should not walk by the usual bakery or shop, I should park on the other side of the place to avoid this bakery, I shouldn’t keep any coins on me so that I can’t buy it). By planning it out before, you’re more likely to do it.
The thing about habits is that it’s ok to not manage at first. See what happened to cause you to fail, and see what plans you can put in place to not fail for the same reasons. Try and try again until you succeed.
Mel McElhatton holds a degree in Social Work from the University of Malta. With Willingness, Mel does life coaching and is one of the facilitators in the IRL – In Real Life team. They are also the producer of the radio show Niddiskutu s-Sess. They can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.