How To Break Bad Habits

The English poet John Dryden once said, “First we make our habits, then our habits make us”.

This quote perfectly captures the idea that the actions you take on a regular basis determine the type of person you become.

Break Bad Habits

Good habits are the things you do each day that gradually lead you towards becoming the person you really want to be, and to achieving your most important goals in life.

Conversely, bad habits are the things you do repeatedly that make you unhappy about the person you are becoming, and move you away from achieving your goals.

The good news is, that it IS possible to overcome bad habits once you understand what a habit really is and how your mind works.

You see, a habit is nothing more than a mental circuit, which is very similar to the electrical circuits in your home.

For example, lets take a look at a simple electric circuit.

You flick a switch on the wall, and the light in the ceiling turns on.

This circuit is made up of two parts:

(1) A Trigger
(2) A Response

In this example the trigger is flicking a switch and the response is the light turning on.

Habits work in the same way. We experience a specific trigger, which might be a thought, a feeling, or a situation, and in response to this trigger we activate a circuit in our mind that leads us to perform a certain action.

The secret to breaking bad habits is to learn how to rewire the habit-circuits in your brain.

There are five steps to this rewiring process:

Step 1: Identify a specific bad habit to focus on

Step 2: Break your bad habit down into a Trigger and a Response

Step 3: Create a new response

Step 4: Mentally practice your new response

Step 5: Implement your new response in the real world

Let’s take a look at an example to see how this works:

Doug walked out of the doctor’s surgery feeling as though he had just been slapped in the face.

The doctor had told him that he was at serious risk of having a heart attack and that if he didn’t make some big changes to his lifestyle he might not live to be 50.

As a father of two little girls, this came as a major wake up call, and he immediately made the decision that he was going to do something about it.

Doug knew that he had some bad habits that he needed to change, but he also knew that change was hard, and that he couldn’t turn his life around all at once.

So, he decided to follow the five-step rewiring process described above.

Step 1: Identify a specific bad habit to focus on

Doug reviewed his daily routine and identified a number of things that he wanted to improve.

For example, every night when he got home from work, Doug would get changed out of his work clothes, grab a beer and some pretzels, and sit in front of the TV to watch the news. He called this his ‘Chill Out Time’.

After his visit to the Doctor, Doug realised that this routine was actually a bad habit that he needed to change.

So he selected his ‘Chill Out Time’ as the specific bad habit he was going to focus on.

Step 2: Break your habit down into a Trigger and Response

Doug analysed his ‘Chill Out Time’ routine and realised that the Trigger for his current habit was changing his work clothes. As soon as he changed clothes, his brain activated his ‘Chill Out Time’ mental circuit.

His Response to this trigger was to grab a beer and some pretzels and head for his favourite chair in the living room.

Step 3: Create a new response

As a result of his doctor’s warning, Doug decided that instead of his regular chill out time, he was going to go for a walk around the block for half an hour.

This would be his new response to the trigger of changing out of his work clothes.

Step 4: Mentally practice your new response

That night before going to bed, Doug visualised the day ahead and imagined himself coming home from work.

In his minds eye he saw himself change out of his work clothes (His existing trigger). He then imagined himself walking out the front door and going for a brisk walk around the block (His new response).

The next morning, Doug again imagined his new afternoon routine and mentally practiced his new response.

Step 5: Implement your new response in the real world

That afternoon, when he arrived home from work, Doug came face to face with his familiar trigger activity. He changed out of his work clothes and then, just as he’d mentally rehearsed, he put on his track pants and walked past the fridge, out the front door and around the block.

In the weeks that followed, Doug continued to focus on changing this single routine in his life. Each time he connected the trigger activity of changing out of his work clothes to his new response of going for a walk, the mental circuit of his new habit was reinforced, and the mental circuit of his old habit was weakened.

Eventually his new response became automatic, and Doug successfully made the first change towards a healthier and happier lifestyle.

So today I’d like to encourage you to think about your own life, and identify any bad habits that you’d like to change.

You can then use this five step rewiring process to eliminate your bad habits and get back on track to becoming the person you really want to be.

Until Next Time
Dare to Dream!
Dr. Anthony

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://www.manasaconsultants.com vijay kumar

    nice demonstration.

  • alan

    excellent advice!

    I always enjoy reading your posts…they are very practical.

    Cheers!

  • carl j

    Thanks for this . It is always a good reminder of how relatively easy it is to change a bad habit into a good habit by exerting some discipline .

  • Jerry

    dear Antony, These down to earth practical suggestions, which I have tried and it worked. Can you suggest something to handle temptations which I beleive are different from handling bad habits.

  • Bakianathan

    Good. thanks for your wonderful article which iam going to follow from today to change my bad activities and become the person which i really want to be.

  • http://www.techbrisk.com Akshay

    Excellent Post.M looking fwd to implementing this. :-)

  • S Ramachandran

    Nice example; easy steps to break uneasy habits. Excellent presentation.
    Ramachandran

  • Tejas

    A very good explanation with real life example.

  • http://NA Ram Bahadur KC

    Thanks Antony for refreshing it. True the idea is practical yet to throw bad habits is not that easy.
    First realization then pursuing it with full determination should lead to it.
    Hearty greetings !

  • http://google Nadeesha

    I really want to practise this..Its easy to understand..So thank you so much..

  • Debbie

    Thanks Anthony. I enjoy your thoughts so much and this one came at exactly the right time as I try to change my habit of holding on to “stuff”. This really helps me put it in perspective.

  • Dhaval chokshi

    Nice one … !!!

    Cheers …!!

  • Priyanka

    thanks anthony………..now i’ll apply this formula in my llife.

  • frank

    very good advice! many Thx!

  • http://www.anthonyfernando.com Bajrang Kumar Tanwar

    I usually find your articles close to real life situation. Good advise to get rid of bad habits

  • lipsa

    nice post ….

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/ASHOKKUMARB100?feature=mhee ASHOK NARAYAN

    excellent advice!

    I enjoy reading your posts…they are very practical.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/ASHOKKUMARB100?feature=mhee ASHOK NARAYAN

    nice demonstration

  • krushna

    thank u so muchhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

  • Carol

    Love your posts..always pick up an idea or two that I can use in my everyday life. Thanks and God Bless!

  • http://acytoh.malaysiaflavors.com Acytoh

    Good advice. I have so many bad habits that I need to break, is time for me break the habit by using your method :)

  • http://www.magna_lock.com Scott

    Great post, It comes down to you just have to turn the bad into the good.

  • anita

    Thanks for your practical, simply written, easy to understand and implement advice.

  • Murali

    Thanks. Good article. I like the motivational factor in your articles. May I suggest you to add one more thing to the article? Let Doug announce the world about his resolve. People around him may ask him about his resolve. This will make him more committed towards his goal.

  • Elisa

    Oh, how I needed this today.

  • anand ahuja

    a very illustrative analysis of one’s own habits and the methods to be adopted for changing the habits. this is followed by the challenges that will be faced in overcoming them. they definitely cannot be changed overnight.

  • sandipa

    wonderfull article. Thank you very much for sharing sir

  • siddharth

    really nice post…………it always encourage me……….
    i think i would like to asked you how to make life easier

  • Benjamen

    this message came to me at the right time i will give a try to the steps,stay bless Dr.Anthony

  • justin rachie

    Very powerful indeed…I Believe….it is very true… I need alot of rewiring. Thanks very much Anthony…i do appreciate the help!!!

  • Veda Poyah

    Great advice. Anthony’s posts makes it so easy to live life more meaningfully.

  • Jameel

    Very nice sugge…but for changing smocking habit have many triggers to be re-wired

    Let me see how it can be…

    Thanks for the article.

  • Ash7

    Thanks So Much!! Anthony. This is a wonderful and actionable message.

  • Patty

    Thanks..great read..good advice. It is the simple changes that can make the big difference.

  • Sokdeth

    Dear Dr. Anthony, thank your for your sharing this inspirational article. I really like your post with clear explanation and practical method.

  • ramesh k.

    Thanks very much Anthonysir…
    I m doing mlm busi. h i can get growth i my busi. can u sugg……….
    take care !
    thanks

  • Russell

    What once were habits now are vices…as the Doobie Brothers Album says

  • Nitin

    Its superb… Pl suggest something about how to develope interest for reading in children.

  • bsunderbabu

    Dear Antony
    a very nice article worth following.looking forward to more such articles.

  • Christa Sheya

    impresive, it worth reading and i am looking forward for more good articles.

  • n t bhabhrawala

    Your articles are always inspiring and I read with utmost intrest & try to practice.
    Thanks & Regards

  • Sanjeev Bhawsar

    Very good

  • pravin

    very nice…liked n implementing too….

  • theo

    An explicite example! I would follow these practical steps to let go my undesirable habits. Many thanks

  • hansika

    Like your posts very much.. Please suggest on how to stand by your decision..

  • http://google.com vibhawari

    I will Try to follow……….and I hope to come out of it…

  • http://web.com.na Stella-Maris Shoombe

    Thanks for a good post. I like your post since they are motivate me and lead me to success in life.

  • Nawin Tiwari

    each day when came from office i used to catch cold drinks and log on social network site but from past weeks i catch a herbal tea and log on to dear to dream articles…good post Anthony!

  • K.N. Ramachandran

    Very good let this change people’s thinking and lifestyle but can you change a man who is corrupt.

  • PANKAJ

    DEAR ANTHONY
    A VERY NICE ARTICLE TO LET PEOPLE BRING POSITIVE LIFESTYLE.
    I ALWAYS ENJOY READING YOUR ARTICLES AND EAGERLY WAIT FOR NEXT ONE.
    THANKS FOR ALL THE INSPIRATION AND MOTIVATION.

  • raymond

    thanks.

  • Lingfong

    Thanks so much ! hope to stop my procrastination.

  • Anne

    No one is perfect. All of us have our strengths and defects. If we change the bad habits in our lives we are making the world a better a place.

  • semir

    a very nice article Dr.Anthony. thank you very much!

  • susan

    Thanks again Anthony for such timely and practical advise just when I need it.

  • Amila

    Really good posts…..thanks a lot sharing with us….

  • http://www.vallejomortgageloans.com Edwil Antolin

    Hi Anthony,
    thanks for the great tip. This will help me break the bad habit of staying in bed too long in the morning. =)

  • mgh

    I m ur fan/fallower. i am always looking for ur articles…

  • Noha

    Thank you, this should help

  • Vishal Patel

    Dear Anthony, Your this artical is a powerful stroke for breaking the bad habits

  • Walaa

    Thank u very Much Anthony, I really enjoyed the post. I’m going to try this formula, wishing that i will succeed to quit my bad habbits. thank u again.

  • Albertina Iileka

    It is really happen to many people in life and I can see it is nice for a person to change from bad to good, ( Not from Better to worse).

  • Shahid

    excellent !

  • hem singh sen

    right saying it ‘ll help me and my students too!

  • sakil ahmed

    awesommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmeee!!!!

  • wang lanoy

    well said… thank you

  • ALIAS IPE PARACKAL

    Dear Anthony,

    Your expressions and deliberations helped me a lot to rewire my mental circuits !!!
    Its my pleasure reading your illustrations often and often.
    Thank you friend.
    Alias Ipe Parackal

  • Gyanendra

    A unique method to resolve your bad habits .

    Thanks for your elaboration so that a person can easily understands and apply in life .

  • Anju wadhwa

    An amazing practical way of improving your wrong habits. Thank you so much.

  • Sid

    Thanks, this was great

  • http://sura2020.hpage.com Sudharshan Yuvraj

    Thankyou. I’d many bad Habits.But now i am feeling new born. thanks for the Article. Keep it coming

  • http://MZXsdm jaden

    wow!

    thanks for the info

  • fariha

    hi i totally liked it & now i am ganna change myself.

    THANK YOU.

  • asha tripathi

    thanks. have u some notes on the importance of discipline in life.

  • http://google chandran

    super sir.very nice.

  • http://facebook chandran

    nice.

  • Haroon

    Simply awesome ! It will help me in a great deal. Warm Rgds,

  • pavi

    i’m going to follow this from 2day onward.it s v much understandable.

  • pavi

    i’m going cnange my mental circuit from today.

  • http://no amit

    really good solution to break bad habits, must apply
    thanks a lot !!!