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15 Ways to Master the Bad Habits That Are Ruining Your Life Habits are powerful, for good or ill.

By Deep Patel Edited by Dan Bova

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Make 2018 the year that you become your best self. The first step toward living a better and more fulfilling life is learning how to stop bad habits that hurt you personally or professionally.

Once you understand how to break self-destructive behavior, you'll find it is considerably easier to achieve other ambitious goals. Success often follows success. Once you are able to break a bad habit or two, you'll have the confidence you need to achieve bigger and bolder goals.

Below are 15 proven ways to eliminate bad habits from your life. Since each of us comes from unique circumstances, there is no one hard and fast rule for breaking bad habits. For this reason, try experimenting with a mix of the strategies outlined in this piece. That will give you the best chance of achieving a more successful self this year.

1. Create a new morning routine.

In his book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg shows readers that our daily routines have a remarkable influence on the decisions we make throughout the day. The first step to breaking a bad habit is changing your routine in subtle but noticeable ways.

A great place to begin is by optimizing your morning routine for success. For example, you could choose to wake up earlier in the morning so that you have time to employ some of the strategies mentioned in this article.

Related: How Does Your Morning Routine Compare to Elon Musk's, Sheryl Sandberg's and Warren Buffett's?

2. Start a diary.

We often make bad decisions without realizing what we are doing in the moment. By starting a daily diary, readers will be encouraged to examine their thoughts and decisions throughout the day. After journaling for a week or two, look back on your entries to see how frequently you make bad decisions, and to determine if there are thoughts, actions or people who are often associated with these choices.

Related: Keeping a Daily Journal Can Give You Tremendous Power

3. Change your perspective by traveling.

A number of studies have indicated that travel helps us to change our mood and our perspective. One report found that those who travel were more likely to report feelings of happiness and satisfaction. Another suggested that those who travel have lower rates of depression than those who stay put.

Experiencing new places and people helps to provide new perspectives on ourselves and our priorities. Plan a trip to a location you've never visited before, and work to put yourself in new and unfamiliar situations. Doing so will provide you with new perspectives that will give you the energy you need to break old habits.

Related: Why Travel Should Be a Top Priority for Every Entrepreneur

4. Share goals with friends to hold yourself accountable.

Sharing goals and progress updates with friends is an effective way to stay on track. One study found that participants in a weight-loss study who shared their progress on social media were more likely to lose weight than those who did not share goals or progress updates.

Related: 6 Apps That Help You Stick to Your Goals

5. Uncover and address the cause of bad habits.

Usually, there is an underlying reason associated with your decision to engage in destructive behavior. The best way to eliminate bad habits is to address the feelings that motivate you to take actions that are against your best interests.

You can surface these feelings in a variety of ways, including journaling and seeing a therapist. Whichever method you choose, be sure you explore your feelings in addition to eliminating the habits that have materialized as a result.

Related: Consistency Is the Key to Breaking Bad Habits and Forming Good Ones

6. Learn to express yourself in new ways.

In some cases, a bad habit can be a misguided form of self-expression. Consider learning new ways of communicating with others or with yourself in order to communicate feelings that may be difficult to surface. Learning an art form like painting or singing may help you to focus your thoughts and feelings away from bad habits and toward a new hobby.

Related: 7 Hobbies Science Says Will Make You Smarter

7. Set an achievable and measurable goal.

Tracking progress and keeping yourself accountable are important keys to success when trying to break a habit. By setting a reasonable and measurable goal, you can motivate yourself to achieve it and track your progress along the way.

Today, there are a number of easy-to-use apps that make tracking a wide variety of milestones simple and fun. For example, HabitBull and Strides make it easy to track various behaviors.

Related: 7 Steps to Achieving Any Goal in Life

8. Focus on something other than yourself.

When trying to break a bad habit, it can be easy to get caught up in thoughts that produce anxiety or stress. While it's important to set aside time to be introspective, it is also important to live a life that encourages you to maintain perspective.

By taking time to develop habits that focus your attention outside of yourself, such as volunteering or mentorship, you'll find it easier to break habits in the long run.

Related: 10 Ways Self-Awareness Can Make You a Horrible Boss

9. Ask those around you for feedback.

As mentioned earlier, involving a community of friends and family makes it easier to hold yourself accountable. Similarly, you should consider asking those in your network to hold you accountable. If they notice you slipping into a bad habit, ask them to share that with you.

Those who know us well are often able to recognize when we are engaging in self-destructive behavior faster than we can when left to our own devices.

Related: 6 Tips for Hearing Tough Feedback

10. Try hypnosis.

Contrary to popular belief, hypnosis (when practiced correctly) isn't about trance-induced thinking. According to the American Psychological Association, hypnosis can "create a highly relaxed state of inner concentration and focused attention for patients, and the technique can be tailored to different treatment methods." In other words, hypnosis is a great way for people to treat underlying anxieties or feelings that cause bad habits.

Related: This Successful Entrepreneur Shares The Trick That Helps Her Tell The Difference Between Being Productive and Being Busy

11. Experiment with meditation.

Think of meditation as another form of hypnosis. When done correctly, it can help people to achieve a state of inner calm that is otherwise difficult to attain.

Today, there are a number of free or inexpensive tools designed to teach people how to meditate. Headspace and Calm are two platforms that can help people start a meditation practice. Those who regularly practice meditation say that they are able to think more clearly, which can be especially helpful when trying to break unhealthy life choices.

Related: How Meditation Can Transform Your Business

12. Put electronics aside in order to make more mindful choices.

Consumer technology is often designed to distract us. In fact, some of Apple's most important investors wrote an open letter to the company asking for better oversight of phone addiction.

Technology can be so engrossing that it can be difficult to make well-considered choices. Instead, we fall back on our habits and routines. If the routine behavior is bad, then we will make bad choices without even realizing it.

Give yourself space from technology each day in order to make better-informed decisions in the long run.

Related: The Shocking Lessons I Learned After I Quit My Social Media Addiction in 3 Days in the Desert

13. Alter your schedule in order to force yourself to create new habits.

One way of breaking habits is by changing your routine. Another way is by dramatically changing your schedule so that you are forced to build routines and habits from scratch. Sometimes making a drastic change that significantly impacts your schedule is a good way to force yourself to build new and better habits.

But, avoid making a change without first knowing that you are capable of making better choices in the future. If you think you'll fall into bad habits once again, hold off on shaking up your schedule.

Related: 11 Tweaks to Your Daily Routine Will Make Your Day More Productive

14. Forgive yourself when you fall into bad habits.

It's important that you forgive yourself when falling into a self-destructive habit. Otherwise, the self-loathing that often accompanies a bad choice can make it more likely that you'll make other bad choices in the future.

Related: 8 Steps to Move Away From the Past You Need to Leave Behind

15. Steer clear of people who trigger poor decisions.

Those around us can have a significant impact on our feelings and decisions. If you notice that certain people cause you to make poor decisions, you need to distance yourself from those individuals. Otherwise, it will be considerably harder to make healthy choices.

Make 2018 the year that you break bad habits. There are a variety of techniques you can adopt in order to live a better life. Though in practice each technique is a bit different, they can all help practitioners to make more thoughtful decisions by addressing root causes.

Deep Patel

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Serial Entrepreneur

Deep Patel is a serial entrepreneur, investor and marketer. Patel founded Blu Atlas, the fastest-growing men’s personal care brand, and sold it for eight figures in 2023, less than 18 months after its launch.

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