Breaking a bad habit!

We all have some habits, some are good, some are bad and some might be really, really bad.  Habits and routines become automatic as we often do them without really thinking about them. You may turn on the TV whenever you walk in the door from work, or you may open Facebook on your phone every time you sit at your desk; you are conscious of doing it but you do it without thinking. During a recent power outage, I noticed that I continued to flip light switches every time I entered a room. I knew the power was out, heck I was carrying a lantern, but my brain still told me to flip that switch – every time. Habit.

Now habits aren’t always a bad thing; exercise before work, saving money from every check, etc. can make you healthy and prosperous, but bad habits can have the opposite effect. Buying scratch off lottery tickets, smoking, excessive drinking, or illicit drug use can put you in the poor house or worse. Most bad habits have been developed as a response to stress or boredom. Habits take a long time to form, and can take a long time to break. Habits have triggers and the key to breaking a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit. You have to change your life, your situation, or your surroundings in some way that removes or replaces your habit and removes what triggers it. Not an easy task.

We smoke. Yes, my wife and I both have the nasty habit of smoking and we’re determined to quit. We have quit dozens of time before as most smokers have, but never for more than a couple of months. One study suggested that two thirds of people who smoke want to quit and about half will try, but only 6% of those will succeed. It’s tough!

Several articles I’ve read on the subject suggest trying to break a habit, whatever it may be, while on vacation. This does seem logical because during a vacation (or stay-cation) you’re out of your normal routines. You don’t necessarily sleep at the same time, get up at the same time, leave for work, eat meals at the same time or same place – you are doing fewer things out of habit. They also suggest making it conscious thought – whenever you do whatever it is you are trying to stop doing – think about what you are doing and why you’re doing it. We have been doing this lately in our effort to quit smoking and you’d be amazed at how often you really didn’t think about it consciously, you just did it and I just did.

Set a target date and reward system.  Many of us are very goal oriented and having a specific target can help us focus on what we hope to accomplish.  Having some sort of reward for good behavior can not only help you quit your bad habit, but develop a new healthy one. What if instead of spending money on lottery tickets and Starbucks, you save that money for a nice date night once a week with your sweetie. Maybe instead of scrolling through Facebook you spend that time studying a new skill you want to learn; whatever your habit or situation, find a suitable replace and reward plan to get you to your goal and a happier you.

We have set a target date of January 8th. We will be on vacation and have 8 days to get through the cravings and craziness before having to go back to work. We have set a specific lifestyle goal to help motivate us and are mentally preparing ourselves each day by asking the question why each time we light up, and making plans to change other routines that are triggers for us. Whatever habit you want to break, whatever it is that might be holding you back – take steps today to improve your life forever!

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Happy Prepping!