So many of us have at least one set of bad habits that we wish we could change.
- Habits around our health
- Financial habits
- Personality habits (anger, moodiness, jealousy, etc…)
- Habits associated with negative thinking or negative self-image or self confidence
- Work or study habits
- Even habits around what we do when we are stressed
- Habits around food and over-eating or unhealthy eating
Being truthful however, 99% of the time we are unable to permanently change your behavior or habits are we?
In fact, it often takes a massive life event (heart attack or other health challenge, a relationship breakup, being fired from job) to get us close to making significant change in our habits, and even then we may revert back to our original bad habits.
What if there were ways we could "Hack" our own bad habits and replace them with more favorable habits, and we could control these hacks using them anytime we wanted to really change our life in one or more areas.
Hacking Your Bad Habits Really Works!
The term "Hacking" clearly has its origin in the computer world where the term referred to quick&dirty, yet effective ways to overcome or get around limitations referring mainly to programming.
Later the terms was adopted by the security community to refer to programming "hackers" who's objective it is to break into and otherwise take over programs and communications.
Soon after, the term "Life Hacking" emerged out of the need to label the quick&dirty techniques programmers would use to change, improve or alter other parts of their lives as it related to their profession such as time management, organization, etc…
In 2010 the term "Growth Hacking" became commonplace mainly as a way to explain the single-purpose objective of focusing all start-up energies around one single concept – growth.
By "Habit Hacking" what I'm referring to is two concepts:
- The specialized knowledge, cleverness and insight that leads to new results. Becoming a Habit Hacker means that you possess the techniques and capabilities to control your habits unlike many are able to do today – while the techniques may not be pretty or follow the standard understanding of how to change habits, they are effective in achieving the end result
- The realization and focus on Habits as being the single most important part of bringing about meaningful, long-term change in your life. Similar to "Growth Hacking", the highly focused energy spent on Habit Hacks becomes the #1 priority as you change your life toward your desired direction
Now that we have all of that straight, what are some of these powerful Habit Hacks (feel free to add your own to this list…I certainly don't claim this is a complete list, only a top 10 as we currently find them)
1. Associate Maximum Pain To The Bad Habit
Like it or not, most of our behavior is still associated with pain and pleasure. If you continue to practice an ingrained bad habit then you have simply not elevated the pain associated with continuing that habit to a high enough level.
2. Daily Focus On The Pain Associated With Your Bad Habit
We mostly ignore our bad habits today. We try NOT to focus on them, we dismiss them from our conscious and we cover them with cloak of excuses, defenses and denials. Instead, Habit Hacking demands that you put those bad habits, especially the pain associated with them, front and center each day. Try this…stand in front of your mirror before your shower each day and for 10-minutes tell yourself how much pain continuing to practice your bad habit will bring you.
3. Promise Change To Everyone Around You
Accountability, especially when universally applied, is a very strong Habit Hack that will push you to follow through on your desire for change
4. Replace The Stick With The Carrot
We talked about maximizing your pain around NOT changing the bad habits, use the same techniques to program your mind into wanting the amazing results around replacing your bad habit that your mind will automatically begin to push you in that direction
5. Bury Yourself In Your New World
One of the most effective habit hacks I use is to immerse myself in the world of someone who has the more desirable habit and has beaten back the bad habits I am battling now. By immersing yourself in their world (through video, personal relationship, reading, following them online, etc…) you Hack Your Habits leading to real change
6. Hack Multiple, Related Habits
Many times we fail at changing a bad habit because it is unknowingly tied to another bad habit and so on… For example, if the main reason you continue to gain weight is because you overeat which happens mostly when you drink, travel or some other related habit, then trying to tackle your habits around eating may be impossible without also tackling your habits around drinking or eating out
7. Make It Competitive
While this method will not work for everyone, many people have had excellent results by coming up with a system of either losing or winning depending on whether they stick to breaking their bad habit. It could be monetary (where you pay $10 every time you go back to the bad habit) or it could be a reward each time you overcome that bad habit. There are smartphone apps today that help you combine reward with accountability such as Life, Carrot and other great apps that have worked for many people
8. Break It Down
If you have trouble reaching a full habit change all at once, then try breaking the habit breaking down to a series of progressive steps. For example, if you smoke 2 packs of cigarettes/day, instead of quitting cold turkey you can cut down to 1-pack/week for a few weeks, then half-a-pack as you gain confidence and replace your bad habit with better habits
9. Make Your Reason BIG!
Even if your short-term objective to overcome your bad habit is of medium importance to you (Ex: lose weight to get more friends), go ahead and find a bigger reason why and make that your new motivating force. For example, you could make your NEW reason to lose 20 lbs highly emotionally tied to you seeing your daughter get married or essential to the health and happiness of your kids. When you tie bad habits to such massively important WHY scenarios you are using the ultimate Hack to replace your bad habits
10. Change It Up
None of our bad habits were created overnight. Instead they are deeply embedded along with patterns of thinking and acting, thoughts and behavior reinforced by daily activity over years and years. It stands to reason that if you change your thoughts, your actions, your state enough you will disrupt those habits enough to make them much easier to overcome. If you can't lose weight and your evening habit is to relax in front of the TV – then perhaps those two are related? Change your evening routine by taking a 1-hour walk and notice that not only do you get exercise, but you disrupt the normal pattern of over-eating before bed or in front of the TV.
Your Habits Make Your Life – Period!
All of our thoughts, behaviors and actions are derived from and reinforce our habits.
If we want to change our lives in any meaningful way, then we must change our habits.
Habits are tough to change, by using Habit Hacking, you now have some highly effective ways to finally stop being hostage to your undesirable habits paving the way for you to institute new ones in line with your desired life journey.