Bad Habits explained and How to form a New Good Habit challenge
There are plenty of people that claim that forming a good habit takes anywhere from 18 days to a few months time.
Here is a link to one of these experts in the field.
For a bad one it probably takes less, as we need to take less effort to achieve the goal.
So why am I saying that?
My last post about life related topics talked about how to find creative ideas.
What I want to do today is expand on that notion.
In that post I spoke about taking a morning inspirational walk to a local coffee machine or coffee shop and record any of the good ideas that come to your mind on that trip.
Fact is, that it in order to make it a habit you need to keep doing that routin for a while until it sticks with you.
Table of Contents
So how does this work?
I mentioned in my previous article that doing the morning walk, even if you don’t get inspired, you can still benefit from doing the exercise part of it.
Continuing to do so for a longer period and seeing and feeling the positive results about it, will inevitably form a habit out of it.
Habits generally form when we keep doing something for a longer time and we “feel comfortable” with what we are doing.
That can obviously mean that if we are doing something “bad” or unproductive and feel comfortable with it, it will grow into a habit eventually too, a bad one though.
Smoking is a great example of this.
People start smoking for various reasons and then continue because of nicotine, peer pressure or some other reason for a longer period of time until it becomes a habit.
Those who are smoking addicts or were one, know what I am talking about.
Some people manage to overcome these bad habits by their strong will and determination of changing, which again, takes a bit of time.
Strong Habits or Habits of steel
Strong habits are in general those that we can hardly get rid of, as they are deeply ingrained within us.
That is because it took us some time to get them and it’s like if “they made roots within us”.
Many times the momentary good feeling as with the smoking example, makes us forget that in the long term continuing with this habit will bring negative consequences.
But because of that glimpse of good feeling, we use that as an excuse to keep doing it, lying to ourselves similarly as when a shady salesman tries to lure us into a bad deal.
I am not sure how long it takes to make a habit strong and to stick, but you will notice in yourself, that as long as you find that thing you are doing easy and effortless, the more it will become a new habit, a routine you will start doing automatically.
So how do I use this to my advantage?
How to form Good habits that stick
Well in order to make a habit stick, first try and figure out if what you are habitually doing is productive or unproductive.
Next, if it is unproductive try and change the routine and replace it with something that produces good results.
In order to help you make a habit stick…and not just for a short time, you will have to find an end goal that this activity will help you towards.
To give a healthy example, lets use exercising as one, since getting in shape and staying in shape is not just a media propaganda, but actually something you should strive for and is good for you.
In order to make an exercising habit stick and become a routine, you need an end goal.
In this example your end goal may be to lose a few pounds or to gain muscles on a specific part of your body or even an overall good shape.
So what to do here?
What you do is find an exercise that has positive effects towards your end goal if done and repeated properly for lets say 1 month.
After you found one such, you make it a plan to perform it for one month either every day or a few days a week…depending on the difficulty of it of course.
Initially as with many good things, you will likely see no immediate results.
But in order to form a habit, you will need to see those results as that is what generally pushes us to do more of something…
If what you are doing is a proven receipt of something and you are trying to immitate that behaviour, then even though you may not see results immediatly, you will have to persevere according to the plan set.
Doing it for a while, you will likely start seeing some results and that will bolster your peception that you are doing something good and effective.
Does that mean I already have a good and healthy habit once that happens?
No, not really.
It likely is just the beginning of forming of the habit.
Well, just because you felt the positive influence of your activity, it doesn’t yet mean it became a habit.
How long will it take me and what do I have to do to develop a habit that sticks?
For a habit to form, the activity you do needs to become a subconcious behaviour, something you don’t really think about doing, but just do.
A good example of a formed good habit is riding a bike or driving a car.
Why do you say so?
It’s because the activity of driving or riding is not something we need to force ourselves to do.
And why not?
Because the whole driving or bike riding part is not the main point of the activity, but either getting from point A to point B or in case of the bike, maybe also the fact that you do physical exercise…so that is your end goal.
Do you see what I am getting at here?
For a habit to form and stick, your activity mustn’t be the point of it, but a “vehicle” to help you achieve something else.
There is also this article on Wikipedia that can give you similar or more information about this topic.
Why do Bad Habits stick faster?
The answer to this question is fairly easy once you understand how this whole concept of forming habits works.
If you read back the last quoted text of the last paragraph, you can see that I am claiming (likely not just me), that for a habit to form, it must not be the main point, but “a tool” or “vehicle” for what you want to achieve.
Having said that, you can maybe understand without me explaining it why with bad habits things work faster and it’s easier to get them compared to the good ones.
Still don’t get it?
Ok, let me explain it just so we are all on the same page.
Lets start by saying what are some bad habits and why are they bad in the first place.
To list some bad habits, lets start with:
3.Eating too much and becoming overweight
Those are just some of bad habits many of us have or had at some point in our lives.
Let’s give some explanations to confirm why those bad habits get acquired faster and easier.
1. Do smokers have Bad habits?
I am not a smoker, but apparently smoking and nicotine used in cigarettes, gives you a feeling of relief and the feeling is pleasant and relaxing.
Well, humans and likely other creatures too when we get pleasant feelings, the release of endorphines makes us in this example reach for more.
Because you feel good after smoking and you want to feel like that again…common human behaviour.
The lust for feeling good and relaxed after smoking is what makes you become addicted to cigarettes and the nicotine in them.
That addictedness to that good feeling is in the end your drive towards smoking more, therefore making it a habit and a bad one for that.
You see what I am saying?
You smoke because you feel good after doing it, not just for the sake of smoking and that is what causes the addiction or a habit.
2. Procrastinating as one of the worst enemies of productivity
Procrastinating, that is an easy explanation.
Well, we all have procrastinated in our lives at some point, many likely still do in plenty of their daily or life activities.
The simple reason is…because it is easy!
Yes, procrastinating is easy, anybody can do it so it is a habit anyone will easily form.
When you have some task to do, for example a homework for school, to give an example everyone can understand…
If the homework you have to do is about a topic you are not really fond of, when you think about working on it, you already feel anxious and that is a negative feeling we human beings generally don’t like.
What many kids do in that case, they procrastinate and they do it in the form of something that brings them positive feelings and sensations.
That can be categorized as watching some tv show or cartoons you like, playing the playstation or simply playing with some toys or even sneaking out to play with your friends.
But why do we behave like that?
It’s again that same thing, those activities bring us pleasure, so we prefere doing them instead of the “boring”/unintersting homework.
And that is procrastination and why it is a bad habit explained in a nutshell.
3. Why is Eating too much a Bad habit
Eating too much and becoming overweight is a classic bad habit.
I call it a bad habit because eating too much is generally associated with other problems you have and running to food is “just an escape door to feeling good again”.
So what is the problem here, why is eating too much a bad habit, I don’t get it!!
As first thing, let’s explain something.
Eating, especially the foods that make you become overweight is usually something we find pleasure in and in general those are sugarry foods.
I don’t think I need to go in particular details about this and we all know that sugar based food is addictive because it makes us feel good for a while after eating it.
Ok, but why is it a bad habit?
That is because we use it “as a shield” when bad stuff happens like bad day at work, getting picked on at schoool from your clasmates, failing a test, getting rejected by someone either professionally or in some love context and more…
When this type of stuff happens to us, what do we do?
Well, we run to our favorit food (usually sweets) and we stuff ourselves until we feel better…
which usually doesn’t last long, so we repeat the process as needed.
Now if you were eating healthy food perhapse this wouldn’t be considered a bad habit, but the problem is, that healthy food is not as addictive as the unhealthy suggary one, which we consume when feeling bad about ourselves…
…and there you have it, that is why eating too much is considered a bad habit.
4. Gambling is definitelly a Bad habit, see why
Gambling is a form of bad habit that sneaks up upon us.
That is because the feeling of winning something quickly and easily can be really dangerous for our confidance and rationale.
What happens when you start to gamble?
Most of the time that happens with something small like a lottery ticket or “a scratch and win”.
You pay a relatively small amount for it, but in case you win even a little something, it doesn’t have to be the biggest sum, you become joyous about it and endorphines start releasing making you happy and wanting more of that feel good.
And what do we do when we feel happy?
We repeat whatever it was that made us feel that way, right…?
I believe there is many strong charactered people reading this post as there are in the world, but the “feeling good” about something is too contagious and even the strogest of us give-in when that happens.
So what do you do?
You repeat that gamble.
Because you felt that joy on that win the first time, even if you lose the next time or few next times, you may still repeat it because you want to feel as joyous as you did back then when you won.
Whichever the case, you will likely win some and lose some…but a habit will be formed and a very hooking and dangerous one for your financial status.
If you manage in the end to play just that one cheap lotery ticket a week, don’t worry too much, it is a bad habit, but nothing tragic yet.
And this was just a lotery ticket example.
Now imagine all those people going into casinos to spend their money repeatedly, just to feel that occasional rush when they do win something.
Find a different hobby!!
…a less dangerous one for both your health and finances instead.
With that being said, unless you got something to say against my explanation, I officially mark this as a bad habit.
We are down to the last example I am going to mention, to not make it a too long a post again 😉
…and I hope that you are grasping where I am heading with this explanation of habit forming as the concept works in both directions…
…is just that the dark side is more tempting for the average person.
5. Overspending as a bad habit
Overspending is a bad habit people use for similar reasons as eating too much.
It usually breaks down to the personal drama in life, where something disturbed your emotional state to such degree that you need something to straighten it back…
…and why not do some good old shopping!!
Yeah, same as with food, buying, owning/buying items or doing some activities by spending money can make us feel similarly good as with eating sweets.
This is just a potato potato anology, where someone uses one approach and somebody else likes more a different one, like spending.
The later can also be condtioned by the wealth of the person, as sweets don’t cost as much and bring joy, while spending, well…
…you can spend as much as you have on you…
…and sometimes even more, which is a secondary problem of overspending as a bad habit.
Wealthy people usually go and buy fancy sports cars or yachts…or even some buildings or other types of property…
…while the economy class generally do a bit more budget things like buying a new purse, maybe some not too expensive jewelry, go to a cosmetics saloon, a spa or similar.
…about which I wrote an article you can read by clicking on the link.
If you just buy a small thing or two (again, not too often for god’s sake), you shouldn’t be too worried about having an overspending habit…
If you do that on a more constant basis and/or use your credit card for it…well, then you are in over your head and have all the symptoms of owning a bad habit!
Bad habits overview and conclusion
If you are guilty of one or many of these bad habits, don’t strain about it too much, so am I.
How else would I know what to write about 😉
Instead of pointing fingers and blaming, this article is meant to give you some guidance and hopefully help you realize in what direction you should try and focus….
…pst…a hint…the GOOD HABITS!! 🙂
For that reason, before giving the recap of this article I wanna give you a habit forming challenge.
This is something you can try on your own and…
please do reach out to me and let me know how that worked for you in a month or few of running the test/challenge.
So lets see what this challenge is about and if you can follow through 🙂
Habit forming Challenge
With all that said I want to invite you to a challenge.
A challenge you say, huh?
Yes, but it has to be something that you will enjoy doing.
Well, because you can also form bad habits, unproductive ones, but I don’t want to push you into that direction…those habits usually, we are good to come by on our own anyway.
The idea about note taking is not the best one, but is a good habit to have as it raises your productivity….
…but obviously you can come up with other ones, you believe will increase your productivity or better up your life style on the long term.
Again, why on the long term?
Because habits are generally meant for the long term and forming good ones helps you become a better version of yourself, which others will also notice.
So as said before, habits are something you form as an asset for long term.
Picture it as an internal passive asset.
Once learned or formed, it will passively help you without much actual effort from your part as you will be doing it on an autopilot, therefore serving you passively.
Notes taking Challenge as a good habit forming challenge
So what I want to challenge you with is as mentioned above, with a notes taking challenge which will raise your productivity and become a passive asset for your life journey inevitably if you develop manage to develop it as a good habit.
How to do it..?
Here are the steps to take:
1. Get a smart phone and download a notes taking app on it or go buy a pen and a notepad at the local store.
2. Have the item, whether the notepad or the phone always with you….
yes, even in the bathroom.
I had some of my best ideas in that place 😛
3. Do morning, mid day or evening walks once a day.
If that is not possible try to make it at least 3 times a week, like monday, wednesday, friday for example.
4. When on those walks, start actively thinking about a procject you are working on, be it school project, work project or even a personal project.
5. When thoughts start running through your mind, write whatever you find intriguing, don’t worry too much if the idea is great or how you will realize it…just write it down.
If you can expand on it and more thoughts flow in about the idea, make a stop on a corner or a bench (don’t walk and write as that can be dangerous in a more populated city) and start writing your flow of ideas.
That is essentially it about the steps you need to make.
Keep doing this for not just one month, but a few instead.
You might realize the benefits of the taken actions after 1 month already, but in order for it to become a habit and something you do automatically, I believe it may take a bit more than that.
As soon as you spote yourself taking actions at every corner and wherever you are or independently of the time or place of the day, in that moment you will have earned a good habit for keeps.
If you want to read more about this notes taking notion and how I approach it <– Then check this article.
In this sum up I will be very brief starting by pointing out what we have learned in this article.
1. Habit making is something that takes time!
2. Some habits will happen automatically after a period of time.
3. Good habits take more time develop as they require more input from you.
4. Bad habits will always tempt you…try to resist them and refocus onto a good one istead.
5. Making good habits is a long term investment and even a passive investment once acquired.
And with this short list, I hopefully summarized what this article tried to explain.
Habits are a part of our daily lives and without them we would hardly live a “normal life” as they are what helps us automize certian aspects of what we do on a day to day basis.
It is not easy to keep just good habits, but generally speaking, if you can maintain a healthy amount of them, you will help yourself to be more productive and live an overall better life style.
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