“Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.” ~Grandma Moses
You can learn how to heal, love and live well. If you’re willing to change, you can break bad habits, bad behavior and emotional patterns that create problems for your life.
Do you want to start eating healthy, lose weight, exercise more, stop smoking, manage your anger, be happier or make other changes to improve your life? You will end up failing if you don’t use effective strategies for achieving your goals.
Recent findings in neuroscience regarding neuroplasticity or brain plasticity can explain what happens to you.
You’ve probably heard that it takes about 21 days of repeated and consistent practice in order to change your bad habits. Why? It takes time for your brain to develop the biological, chemical and physical changes needed to break old habits and develop new habits. Practice make perfect. This can lead to permanent changes in your brain and in your behavior. Instead of getting stuck in old emotional patterns, bad behavior and habits, you can overcome roadblocks that have kept you from living your best life.
By understanding how the brain can change by brain training and applying that knowledge, you can dramatically increase your chances of improving yourself and changing your life. You can develop healthier habits, behavior and emotional patterns permanently.
Instead of trying and failing repeatedly, you can finally overcome roadblocks that have kept you from living your best life. You can live a happier, healthier and richer, more meaningful life.
Self-destructive habits, such as, junk food addiction, smoking or drug addiction, can kill you. Chronic anger, bad behavior and other unhealthy emotional patterns can lead to death of relationships or careers.
9 Tips for Breaking Bad Habits and Living Your Best Life
#1. You must be willing to change.
If you lack the desire to change your habits, you’re probably going to fail. For example, you’re probably not going to change your eating habits if you’re just trying to eat healthy because your spouse wants you to do it. You’re likely to eat junk food whenever you can get away with it.
If you truly have the desire to improve yourself and improve your life, you will have more motivation to achieve your goals.
You can not change unless you really want to do it. Ask yourself these questions: What is your bad habit really costing you? Would you be happier, healthier or even richer if you break your bad habit? Based on your answers, make a decision whether you want to change or not.
#2. You need to start where you are.
If your starting point is too unrealistic, it can cause you to fail. For example, a common mistake for people who want to become physically fit is to start an exercise regimen that’s too advanced for them. They start out being very motivated and work out beyond their capabilities. They end up having a lot of pain or they even injure themselves and then they end up quitting.
Instead of doing too much in the beginning, just start slow. If you’ve been a couch potato for years and you want to start exercising, you can take baby steps at first.
Start walking slowly for a short distance for about 15 minutes. You can keep increasing your exercise time by about 15 minutes when you’re ready for the next level.
Once walking gets too easy, you can start jogging or running. You can even add weight training once a week or more often. The idea is to start something easy enough that you can continue doing it as part of your lifestyle for many years to come.
Your habit-changing strategy is more likely to fail if it involves something you absolutely hate doing.
#3. Make it easy to practice your new habit repeatedly and consistently.
Anchor your new habit with one of your current habits. This is particularly helpful if you have a busy lifestyle and you’re likely to forget your new habit.
For example, if you want to start exercising by walking more, you can walk for 15-30 minutes before or after dinner, lunch or breakfast. In addition to anchoring your exercise with your meals, this has an added bonus of controlling your appetite and boosting your metabolism.
#4. Don’t over-analyze your motivation level.
Otherwise, you might end up with analysis paralysis and end up doing nothing. For example, most people over-analyze their weight loss motivation. Instead of just getting started eating healthy or exercising more, they end up getting stuck waiting to have more motivation or inspiration to lose weight.
Just get started. Some days, you’ll be super-motivated; other days, you’re not going to want to do much. It’s okay. Just do what you can as often as you can.
#5. Lighten up about the habit-changing process.
Remember, misery is only an option. For example, most people who are trying to lose weight get too stressed out about weight loss. They worry about every little thing about their diet — what to eat and what not to eat. If they eat the wrong food or they “make a mistake” and end up eating more than they should, they have so much trouble just letting it go.
Instead of just relaxing and enjoying the process, losing weight becomes such a miserable process. The end result? Failure to lose weight! It’s way too stressful for anyone to stick to a strict weight loss diet.
#6. Allow yourself a day off when you need it.
There’s no need to start beating yourself up, if you mess up with your diet. For example, if you stick to your healthy diet most of the time and allow yourself to have an occasional “cheat day,” you won’t feel deprived.
After you’ve had your favorite food or whatever food you were craving for, just get back to eating healthy.
#7. Focus on the bigger picture when you track your progress.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you don’t have to keep track of every fluctuation of the scale. Instead, focus on how much better you look or feel. Maybe your skin looks better or maybe you look younger.
If you’re trying to exercise more, notice how much better you feel when you’re physically active. Maybe you were huffing and puffing a lot more when you just started your exercise program, but you’re now more comfortable working out.
If you maintain a healthy weight, you can decrease your risk for developing diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even cancer.
#8. Have a plan for dealing with boredom, frustration and discouragement.
Some days will not be easy. Some days you’ll be super-busy and stressed out. Your level of motivation will probably fluctuate. So, make sure you get support from family or friends when you’re having a non-productive day, week or month.
A good way to deal with feeling frustrated or discouraged is to make a few fun changes in your strategy. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight and you’ve hit a plateau, you can start doing more fun physical activities, such as, dancing, hiking, swimming or tennis instead of your regular workout.
Stick to your habit-changing strategy even if you don’t have a lot of enthusiasm. If you continue to take action, you’ll start seeing results again.
#9. To keep boosting your motivation, make sure you notice, appreciate and celebrate any progress you’ve made so far.
Give yourself a reward for continuing to take action and moving closer to hitting your goals. You can get a new outfit, get a massage, go out with friends or do something special for yourself when you make some progress. The best reward is that you’ll start feeling better about yourself.
Your self-esteem and self-respect will increase as you make better choices and develop healthy habits. This change in your self-image can keep you more committed to achieving your goals.
You’ve probably heard that it takes about 21 days of repeated and consistent practice in order to change your bad habits. Why? It takes time for your brain to develop the biological, chemical and physical changes needed to break old habits and develop new habits.
Practice make perfect. This can lead to permanent changes in your brain and in your behavior. Instead of getting stuck in old emotional patterns, bad behavior and habits, you can finally overcome roadblocks that have kept you from living your best life.
By applying recent findings in neuroscience regarding neuroplasticity or brain plasticity associated with learning new behavior, you can live a happier, healthier and richer, more meaningful life.