With both the New Year and January nearly behind us, what have you done? Resolutions, goals and aspirations become the trending ideals around the world but are oft not followed. Where most people decide to either, get fit, get organized or “get it together,” we should all aspire to seek out one specific task for the New Year: Getting rid of our bad habits. Bad habits plague us all. Whether you inadvertently curse like a sailor, subconsciously bite your nails or endlessly eat in the wee hours of the night, the bad habits are the tangible cause of the need for our new, New Year’s resolutions.
Admitting You Have a Problem Is the First Step
The first step to any problem, issue or dilemma, is acknowledging that you do indeed have a problem. When the issues are large, it is easier to identify it as a problem and not over look it as “small potatoes.” However, when the issue is small, it is harder to acknowledge that you have an issue. For instance, someone with a drug problem can readily acknowledge that they have a problem, and if they are in denial, their loved ones can often identify the problem. In the alternative, if you bite your nails, it will take some real convincing to even notice you have an issue. Habits are not always problematic, but we may choose to make a change and once you make that decision, own it.
Identify and Label Your Problem
Once you have admitted or confronted the fact that you have a problem, i.e., a bad habit to break, take a little time to find out why, or what triggers this bad habit. Most habits, good or bad, are typically associated with something psychological. Boredom, stress, extreme fatigue, and other aspects bring about a psychological need to “act”. This “act” can be as marginal as nail biting, hair twirling or leg shaking, to habits that are more serious and life altering such as smoking, drinking and in extreme cases drugs. These actions function as coping mechanisms for more deep-seated issues. Believe it or not, boredom is the leading cause of many bad habits. Stress is another leading cause, coupled with an inability to cope with certain environmental stimulants. Stress from work or school can lead to many of the bad habits we suffer from. For example, a child who bites his nails (triggered by boredom) will often notice the nail biting desist as they become more involved in extracurricular activities or sports as they get older. In the alternative, nail biting caused by stress maybe harder to identify.
Substitute the Old for Something New
Once you identify what triggers your bad habit, replace the negative (or unbeneficial) habit with something more useful (beneficial) for you. For instance, if you identify that your nail biting is associated with being bored, whenever you notice you are bored give yourself something positive to focus on such as cleaning, reading or working out. Making a conscious choice may be hard to maintain in the beginning, but the longer you stick to the change, the easier, and more natural the action will become. It may also prove beneficial to alter the replacement habit to avoid it becoming your new obsession. Nail biting and obsessive eating are also easily replaced with something similarly stimulating such as chewing gum or eating something healthy like fruit.
Whether your bad habit is prompted from boredom or stress, there is a replacement habit that will work for you and a method of combating your bad patterns.
What new goals have you set for 2015?