How to Change a Bad Habit or Create a Good Habit

Changing a Bad Habit or Creating a Good Habit is a process. It’s not easy, but it is scientific and you can control it.

Here’s an overview of the process to change or create a habit with more explanation below.

  • Figure out what the cue is
  • Replace the bad habit behavior with a new one, and make sure there is some sort of reward for the new behavior
  • Start small and take incremental steps (the rewards can be small too)
  • Prime your environment
  • Focus on habits that influence other habits


Figure out your cues

Do you walk into the kitchen when you’re bored or restless, and you find yourself reaching for a snack when you’re not even hungry? It could be that your cue is the feeling of being bored or restless or even the action of walking into the kitchen.


Implement a More Positive Behavior

Sometimes, simply swapping a behavior in an existing loop for a new one is easier than eliminating the loop all together. Instead of walking into the kitchen when you’re feeling that way, try walking out onto your porch or balcony instead. Stepping outside and doing some deep breaths can push your mental reset button. Or establish a rule for yourself that, if you walk into the kitchen, you’ll drink a glass of water. We can all benefit from drinking more water, and that action will often satisfy your craving.  Either way, you’ve just swapped a habit you want to break for a healthier one.


The smaller the action, the simpler it is to incorporate in your life.

If you want to meditate, start with just 1 minute per day.  Write just 3 sentences each morning to get into the habit of writing daily. If your goal is to read more books, start by reading just 1 page daily.  Make the new habit so simple, you can’t say no.  If you want to go for a walk every day, start by walking for just 5 minutes.

Baby steps can also help you work toward a bigger goal.  If you work in sales and you know you need to make more calls to check in with customers or follow up on leads. If you started making only 1 call a day then added 1 more call each day for a month, you would have made 465 calls by the end of the month!

Money is a great way to show yourself how small, positive steps in one direction add up.  Start by saving $10 per week.  Go up by $5 each week until you reach $100/week savings. Then invest it at 6% interest for 10 years. You’d have just under $69k, having put in only $48k.  Tip: Don’t skip more than 1 day in a row, and do it for at least 21 days before you allow yourself to ask whether this is working for you.


Pair a reward with any new habit

Pay yourself for doing it – put $1 in the jar each time you complete a workout or $10 each time you finish a book. Track your progress, and share it with people who’ll cheer you on and celebrate with you when you do the new habit. Work out with a friend so you are rewarded with the social aspect of it.  Listen to your favorite music or an audiobook when you’re cleaning and organizing. Especially if you’re trying to pick up a new habit that you don’t inherently enjoy, making sure to reward yourself will help that habit stick.


Set yourself up for success by priming your environment.

So many times, our habits are just a response to our surroundings. You want to make it easier to do good things and harder to do bad things. So, here are some examples.

Maybe you want to get up in the mornings without hitting snooze, so set your alarm across the room so that you have to get out of bed to turn it off.  Use smaller plates for your meals and keep treats out of sight so that you have to go out of your way to choose them. Buy comfortable shoes and workout clothes so that you look and feel good when you’re going to exercise, and either sleep in your workout clothes for morning workouts, or put the clothes right next to your bed. Too distracted by your phone? Delete time-sucking apps and games from your phone, and/or put your phone in another room when you’re working.

If you want to be happier and have a more positive mindset, spend more time around inspiring and positive people.


Develop Keystone Habits

Some habits are Keystone Habits—they’re the type of positive habits that influence other positive habits, causing a ripple effect in your life.

  • Habits of energy: Self-care and preserving decision-making and willpower for more important topics, such as getting enough sleep and creating a work uniform for yourself so that you’re not wasting any energy deciding what to wear each morning.
  • Habits of attention: Minimize distractions by clearing out clutter, leaving the TV off, and putting your phone in another room when you need to concentrate.
  • Habits of gratitude: You can retrain your animalistic brain, which is always looking for problems or dangers in the environment. Retrain it to look for good things in your surroundings instead. This is a powerful priming technique. Gratitude leads to more feelings of satisfaction and positivity overall.

If you develop good habits of energy and attention, it’ll make it easier to develop the other positive habits you want. You’ll need energy to make the right choices until that new choice becomes a habit (automatic). Your attention habits will help you focus your mind on the resources you’ll need to create or change your habits. Without energy or attention, the breaking of bad habits or creation of good habits will be more challenging.

Gratitude is helpful in many ways. So, thank you for checking out this post. We appreciate you and wish you the best in developing the habits you want to have in order to create the life you desire.


If you know someone who might like it, please share this with them.


written by Amiee Mueller and edited by Gloria Otto
image credit My Life Journal

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