Break Habits: 7 Ways to Break Bad Habits

break habits, how to break habits, break habits in 21 days, how break bad habits

Break Habits: 7 Ways to Break Bad Habits

If you had a habit that affected you negatively, how easy do you think it would be to break it? And why have you not quit it? Truth is, to break habits can be very challenging, more so when it is a pleasure-based habit. The effects of bad habits always show in one’s life by the way they hinder progress, cause stress, and negatively impact various aspects of our lives.

However, breaking bad habits will improve your life and overall well-being. By identifying triggers and finding healthy alternatives, you can take control of your habits and lead happier, more fulfilling lives.

Let’s discuss how bad habits are formed, examples of common bad habits, and ways to break them. Hopefully, you will learn and be able to break habits.

Breaking Habits

Bad habits are behaviour patterns that are perceived as unfavourable and can have detrimental effects on our lives. They can be challenging to break because they often serve as coping mechanisms for stress, boredom, or other underlying issues. These habits generally affect our personal growth and hinder progress, causing stress and negatively impacting various aspects of life. 

To break bad habits, you’ll need to understand the underlying reasons why they were formed initially. You can work towards positive changes by identifying the triggers and finding healthy alternatives.

How Do Bad Habits Form?

Bad habits are formed by several means, which include:

  • Boredom
  • Stress:
  • Need for validation
  • Learned behaviors
  • Difficulty with self-regulation
  • Lack of purpose and direction

Examples of Bad Habits You Might Need to Break

Here are some examples of bad habits:

  • Procrastination: Putting off tasks or responsibilities until the last minute can lead to increased stress, missed deadlines, and poor quality of work.
  • Poor time management: Failing to prioritize tasks, overcommitting, or not allocating enough time for important activities can lead to inefficiency, stress, and a lack of work-life balance.
  • Lack of organization: Disorganization can result in wasted time searching for things, missed appointments, and a cluttered living or working space.
  • Unhealthy eating habits: Consuming excessive amounts of unhealthy foods, skipping meals, or relying on processed and fast foods can harm physical and mental health. 
  • Sedentary lifestyle: Spending excessive time sitting or being inactive can lead to various health issues, including obesity, cardiovascular problems, and decreased energy levels.
  • Excessive screen time: Spending too much time on electronic devices, such as smartphones, computers, or television, can negatively affect mental health, sleep patterns, and social interactions. 
  • Negativity and self-doubt: Constantly engaging in negative self-talk, doubting one’s abilities, or focusing on the negative aspects of situations can hinder personal growth and create a negative mindset. 
  • Lack of goal setting: Failing to set clear goals and work towards them can result in a lack of direction and motivation.

How to Break Habits

Breaking bad habits can be challenging, but several strategies can help. Here are some steps you can take to break bad habits:

Step 1: Identify the Habit You Want to Break

The first step to breaking habits is to identify the habits you want to break and be specific about them. For example, instead of saying, “I want to stop eating unhealthy food,” you can say, “I want to replace my daily fast food lunch with a homemade salad.”

Step 2: Understand What Triggers Your Bad Habits

Recognizing the cues or triggers that lead to your bad habits can help you break them. For example, if stress triggers your habit of biting your nails, you can find alternative ways to cope, such as deep breathing or walking. Then, accept that the habit is negatively affecting you. You stand a better chance of breaking a habit if you are aware of its negative impact habits and accept that things need to change.

Step 3: Create an “If-Then” Plan

Thirdly, understand that cues often trigger habits; however, you can disrupt this pattern by creating an “If-Then” plan. An ‘If-Then” plan is deciding ahead of how you will respond to a specific cue. For example, if your cue is feeling bored and your habit is mindlessly scrolling through social media, you can create a plan like “If I feel bored, then I will read a book or engage in a hobby instead.”

Step 4: Replace the Habit With a Different One

Fourthly, breaking habits can be easier when you replace a bad habit with a new, healthier habit. For example, if you want to stop reaching for unhealthy snacks, you can replace them with healthier options like fruits and nuts. Over time, the new habit can become routine, and the desire for the old habit will decrease.

Step 5: Fine Yourself for Each Offense

The fifth step is adding a financial consequence to repeating your bad habit. Doing this can motivate you to break it. For example, you can use the “swear jar” method or pay your friends a small amount of money each time they catch you engaging in the habit you want to stop. On the other hand, you can reward yourself for successfully resisting the habit each day.

Step 6: Find Motivation and Support

While you are working toward breaking bad habits, having the right motivation and support can make a significant difference. Try and surround yourself with people who can encourage and support your efforts to break the habit. You can talk to friends, a therapist or join a support group for people with an addiction.

Step 7: Train Yourself to Think Differently About Your Bad Habits

One of the reasons we continue to engage in bad habits is because of the form of satisfaction or reward they provide. Hence, by reframing the positive thoughts or feelings associated with the habit and focusing on the negative aspects, you can change your mindset and reduce the appeal of the habit.

Why Is It Good to Break a Habit?

Breaking a habit is beneficial as it can help you overcome brain mechanisms, such as dopamine release, which strengthens and creates cravings when the behaviour is not performed. Breaking habits involves rewiring the brain to focus on long-term goals and benefits, hence overcoming brain mechanisms.

Bad habits often provide benefits or address specific needs, making it difficult to eliminate them, hence why replacing bad habits with healthier behaviours that address the same need with something better. However, ensure that the new habits align with your goals and values.

What Are the 4 Rules of Forming a Habit?

The four habit-forming rules are Cue, Craving, Response, and Reward. These rules provide a framework for building good habits and breaking bad ones.


A cue can prompt a habit, which acts as a trigger. It could be a particular time, place, emotional state, or even an incident that came before it. A reward is anticipated based on the information the brain receives from the cue. Also, having the cue in plain sight can help reinforce the habit and get you started on the path to developing a habit loop.


The craving to satiate something is the driving factor behind any habit. It is the desire to alter how you feel on the inside. Hence, it is crucial to understand what you need and how the habit satisfies that craving to break it. When you motivate yourself to perform a habit, you might be tying that behaviour to a desired shift in state.


The response is the habit or behaviour you perform responding to the cue and craving. It can be an action or a thought. The response should be feasible and within your capabilities. If a habit requires too much effort or is physically impossible, it is unlikely to become a habit.


The reward is the end goal of every habit. Rewards satisfy your cravings and teach your brain which actions are worth remembering in the future. Rewards can be intrinsic (e.g., feeling accomplished) or extrinsic (e.g., receiving a tangible reward). They also teach your brain which actions are worth remembering and repeating in the future. Immediate rewards, even if small, can help make a habit stick.

These four rules of habit forming form a feedback loop that allows you to create reflexive habits. They can be applied to various habits and behaviours, and understanding and following these steps can help you design and stick to good habits while breaking bad ones. 


Breaking bad habits is essential for personal growth and well-being. It rewires the brain and allows individuals to focus on long-term goals and benefits, and individuals can lead happier and more fulfilling lives. To start breaking habits, you must first understand why these habits were formed and identify what triggers your response. You can work towards making positive changes by understanding and identifying these issues. The strategies for breaking a habit include creating specific goals, recognizing triggers, creating alternative plans, replacing habits with healthier behaviours, adding consequences or rewards, and reframing thoughts.

Related Article: Personal Accountability and Why It Matters


Leave your thought here

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Select the fields to be shown. Others will be hidden. Drag and drop to rearrange the order.
  • Image
  • SKU
  • Rating
  • Price
  • Stock
  • Availability
  • Add to cart
  • Description
  • Content
  • Weight
  • Dimensions
  • Additional information
Click outside to hide the comparison bar

Over 50% Off

Get a Course & Invest In Yourself Now

Subscribe & Get Your Bonus!
Your infomation will never be shared with any third party