Why Bad Habits Are So Easy to Make and So Hard to Break

A full 40% of the time our mind is on something else while we complete actions automatically.
April 21, 2016

Intelligence, ambition and hard work will take you a long way, but nobody’s perfect, and we each have a few weaknesses and distractions that seem destined to undermine our good intentions. Some foibles seem to be hardwired, having a detrimental effect on our well-being and our professional progress. However, bad habits are really just bugs in the system and with a few dedicated techniques; it is perfectly possible to deprogram them.

Related: 7 Steps to Break Your Bad Habits

Our brains work on a trigger and reward basis—the so-called “habit loop”—which means it is easy to slip into a routine and difficult to fight back when the undesired behavior occurs. A full 40% of the time our mind is on something else while we complete actions automatically, and to a certain extent this is desirable and enables us to complete repetitive tasks without expending unnecessary concentration. When you make the decision to eradicate a bad habit, you’ve already made the first step: identifying the problem. Keeping a habit diary can also help draw attention to your weak moments, so you can interrupt them before the habitual behavior occurs.

Once you’ve identified those vulnerable moments, it’s time to key in an alternative behavior: making tea instead of indulging your coffee fix or doing pushups instead of smoking, can utilize your body’s inner clock for your benefit rather than harm. Alternatively, promise yourself a reward for each time you avoid the behavior. Your inner operating system should soon take note. Keep your aims realistic, though—there’s nothing like disappointment in yourself to send you hurtling back to your bad habit.

For more tips on how to rewire your habit loop, check out this infographic. Its step-by-step bad habit-zapping program should have you back on track in no time.

Why Bad Habits are So Easy to Make and So Hard to Break

Source: Vegas Extreme Skydiving

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