7 Ways To Stay Motivated When You’re Trying To Ditch A Bad Habit

7 Ways To Stay Motivated When You’re Trying To Ditch A Bad Habit
This post is sponsored by Bupa
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f you’ve signed up for the 14 day Wholesome Habits challenge, we are officially half way through. How amazing is that? By now you should be moving every day, getting plenty of sleep and have a belly full of veggies. I always find after the first week of a new health challenge I start to get a bit jiggity. Like I want to eat a lot of chocolate and stay up late. You know all that lovely self sabotaging behaviour.

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I only skipped two things last week. One day I didn’t get my exercise in because I’ve been really sick – couldn’t be helped. I also only got 6 hours of sleep one night because I wanted to finish a crochet project – totally my fault and I won’t be doing that again this week. Nor will I let either of these things slip back into a daily occurrence.

The reason why we often slip back into to old bad habits is because it’s easier than developing new ones. New habits will be just as sticky, you just have to give them a chance to become a habit. If you feel like you’re flagging a bit, here are a few tips to help you stay on track when you’re learning a new habit.

1. Use a star chart 

It sounds super juvenile but I think star charts are the bomb. Star charts can work for any goal as well. They can work for when you do a good thing, like going to the gym but you can also earn a star for avoiding a bad habit you’re trying to break like not eating those chocolate biscuits after dinner. Every time you successfully go to bed on time, you get a star. Tip: Get someone else to be in charge of the stars, like your partner, house mate or children. It will make it more legitimate if you have to report to a third party to earn your star.

I created a star chart for this challenge and it’s been amazing! I’ve had members in the Facebook group show me the extra charts they’ve printed off for their husbands and kids – the power of the star chart is real people.

2. Have a check in buddy  

Some people work better if they have someone who can help hold them accountable and if you’re one of those people, allocate a member of your family or a friend to be your check in buddy. This might mean posting on social media or texting them a selfie of you exercising or eating that salad you promised to have for lunch. Make sure you pick a bad ass check in buddy – you don’t want anyone going easy on you.

If you’re participating in The Wholesome Habits challenge we have a Facebook group for this exact purpose – click the link to join!

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3. Be aware of your triggers

In your first week of tracking your habit breaking process, make sure you monitor your behaviour and track where you’re going wrong. If you come home at the end of the day and you fall in a heap and bury your head in a bag of potato chips followed by 7 hours of TV, instead of beating yourself up, look at your behaviour and figure out why you did it. Were you stressed? Perhaps you could have stopped to have a quiet moment to breathe and think before you went into sabotage mode. Were you bored? Could you have called a friend or read a magazine instead of falling into bad habits? Were you tired? Maybe you need to get more sleep tonight. Were you sad? You might want to have a sadness buddy on hand for those moments when you’re feeling low which can lead to reaching for bad habits you’re trying to break like smoking, eating sugar or drinking alcohol. Instead of beating yourself up for a moment of weakness, acknowledge the moment, figure out why you did it and focus on feeding that need in other ways, rather than breaking your good habit streak.

4. Choose a substitute behaviour for each bad habit you’re trying to break

For each behaviour you’re trying to quit, it helps to replace it with a healthier habit. If you’re trying to stop having a glass of wine with dinner, try replacing that drink with a soda water and lemon. If you’re trying to quit smoking and you’re tempted to spark up, do something else for 5 minutes to take your mind off it. I’ve heard of people using knitting and crocheting to quit smoking or even doing crosswords or Sudoku puzzles. It’s much easier to quit a bad habit if you have a new one good one to replace it with.

5. Tell everyone

Let your family and friends be your police. If you’re trying to stop having a biscuit every afternoon, tell everyone in the office that you’ll pay them $1 or make them a cup of tea if they see you eating a biscuit. It seems like a small amount of money but if 20 people see you that’s $20 for one biscuit. Is it worth it? Probably not. Hold yourself properly accountable, make sure other people understand your goals and make sure there are proper consequences when it goes wrong.

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6. Surround yourself with people who don’t have the bad habit you’re trying to break

This is mandatory for breaking habits. If you’re trying to get out of the rut of watching TV every night, stop hanging out with your reality TV obsessed  housemate. It obviously goes without saying but if you’re avoiding alcohol and cigarettes, don’t go to a bar with your smoking boozy friend. You don’t have to stop doing these things forever but put yourself on a two week ban when you’re trying to re-form your habits. It’s hard enough trying to quit drinking/smoking without unnecessarily exposing yourself to it all the time.

7. Consistently interrupt your old patterns 

It’s a weird paradox but bad habits actually breed bad habits so you want to make sure you mix things up. If you’re trying to get to bed earlier each night, try a warm bath before bed on Monday, reading a book on the couch before bed on Tuesday, doing a light tidy up before bed on Wednesday etc. This won’t necessarily make going to sleep any easier but it will prevent you from falling into the habit of mindlessly watching TV until midnight, which is the actual habit you’re trying to break.

If you’re doing the Wholesome Habits Challenge make sure you join the Facebook group – we’re checking in every day to make sure we’re all staying on task and dead set, it’s become my favourite place on the internet. It’s super simple. It’s just these three things every day for 2 weeks.

1. Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day

2. Eat 5 cups of vegetables every day

3. Get a regular amount of sleep each night

#30minutesaday

#5cupsofvegaday

#8hourseverynight

#wholesomehabitschallenge

It’s not to late to sign up – you can start today!

How are you going on the challenge? Are you keen to start a wholesome healthy habits new leaf?

P.S Also you should totally sign up for my newsletter. It’s full of cool stuff.

Carly is the founding editor of Smaggle which launched in 2007 back when blogging was weird. She has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Cosmopolitan and Cleo magazines. Hoop earrings are totally her thing and she almost got run over by Myf Warhurst while out jogging one day.

5 Comments

  1. chrisatpb 9 months ago

    I’ve always loved a star chart, but you are right about putting someone else I charge of allocating the stars – less temptation to go easy on yourself. I read somewhere it only takes a couple of weeks to make or break a habit. I try to remember this when I am trying to break a bad habit, or get a series of interruptions period to a good one. xx

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 months ago

      Mr Smaggle really got off on it – he loved giving me my sticker every night. I’m pretty good at holding myself accounting but he’s great for when I lose the plot.

  2. Belinda Jacobson 9 months ago

    Oh I totally need a star chart! What a cute idea for monitoring progress – I’m such a fan of visual prompts like crossing things of to-do lists etc so I think a star chart would work well for me. I think the first week is always the hardest when you’re changing habits. x

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 months ago

      I approve of any non-food related rewards. Love them! 🙂

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