10 Steps to break a bad habit

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Following the last blog article: The Formula to change any habit, I thought you guys should have some tips. These tips are based on basic psychology and should help you create new habits. In other words, these tips take advantage of how we humans think, feel, and behave. Therefore, it will help you build or break a habit much easier. And I hope you can find fun in the process as well. So, here are 10 steps on how to break a bad habit.

10 steps to break a bad Habit

advice - 10 tips on how to build a habit

Foreword: Before we start I want to mention a couple of things. First of all, this guide’s purpose is not to boost your motivation. I assume that you are disciplined and motivated enough on your own. Instead, here are more practical tips to stick to your plan. Furthermore, here are tips on how to deal with potential obstacles and some other tips are useful information on the habit’s psychology.

Sidenote: During my research about habit change, I found nothing useful at all. Most of them are based on typical tips on how to finish a project. Without including the psychological triggers that form our habit. Before you read further, read my previous blog post. So you understand what I am talking about.

1. Start with a Cue

10 tips on how to build a habit - start with the cue

Before I became a success-hungry guy, I lived day to day like everyone. My life consisted of partying, drinking, and playing video games. Soon, I realized that I am wasting my time. I am nearly 30 and I did not accomplish anything meaningful. So, I started over numerous times. But I could not work on something constantly. I had no discipline and I had a bad habit to quit midway.

2 years ago, I decided to change my environment. Instead of working at home, I start working at Starbucks. I loved it there. Somehow, I could focus much easier: Moreover, time passed so fast. I did not realize that they were closing soon until the staff told me that. I worked for 9 hours, and I was exhausted. However, this exhausting feeling after being productive is great. With time, I crave this feeling and became addicted.

Since then, Starbucks is my place when I need productivity and focus. Whenever I see a Starbucks, even outside of Germany, I feel the urge to work. You can train yourself with other cues as well.

10 steps to break a bad habit: #1 To break a bad habit, find out the cue that forces you to follow your bad habit. My bad habit was that I was lazy. I made Starbucks as a cue. A cue to be productive. Find and define a cue to break your bad habit. The cue can be time, location, emotional state, other people, or action.

Learn more about breaking a bad habit and creating a new one. Get the book: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

2. Spend your Willpower wisely

10 tips on how to build a habit - protect your willpower

On all social media sites, business gurus teach us to do the most important task after waking up. It is simple: Willpower. Willpower is not just a skill. Moreover, it is a muscle, like the muscle in your arms or legs, they are getting tired as they work harder. In other words, it is hard to break your bad habit if you have no willpower left. In the early stage of creating a new habit, protecting your willpower is key to success.

10 steps to break a bad habit: #2 The more you do trivial stuff the more you use your willpower. Do the most important task as soon as possible.

Do you want to know more about this topic? Get more in-depth knowledge with this book: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

3. Deal with Inflection Points beforehand

10 tips on how to build a habit - be ahead of inflection points

Breaking a bad habit is not easy. You will be distracted, forget tasks that are necessary for forging a better habit or you do not feel motivated. Therefore, plan what you will do. What will you do if you are not motivated? If an unpredictable event screws up your plan, what do you do? By not planning ahead of time, you must use valuable willpower to react to a specific situation. By planning you do not.

This is how willpower becomes a habit: by choosing a certain behavior ahead of time, and then following that routine when an inflection point arrived.

10 steps to break a habit: #3 Plan ahead of time to deal with inflection points and you save valuable willpower.

4. Use Peer Pressure to your Advantage

I am not a person who cares about the world. When my friends and colleagues fight for a better future, I rather keep a distance from such people. Because I do not have time and energy for that. When I told a girl about this, she was confused and somehow upset. Instead, she, an idealistic one, fights for everyone who does not have the strength. I was confused for many reasons. Why do people fight for them at all? Don’t they have better things to do? Does it change something? I could not find a logical answer to that.

But soon I read in the book why movement happens. Injustice is always present, no matter in which time we live. Some are small and some become bigger. The key difference in why a movement happens is the person was treated unfairly. For example, if a stranger was beaten to death, nobody cares. But if your best friend is beaten to death, you are outraged. Imagine the victim is popular among a community. The outrage would be enormous.

But this is not enough to become a nationwide movement. Another effect comes in: Peer Pressure. Once a movement has a proper amount of supporters, friends of these supporters feel the pressure to join as well. Why? Because those people are afraid that their status is damaged. A bad evaluation from a stranger is as bad as from your best friend.

So, what does this has to do with habit? Simple. By using peer pressure, you are forced to break your bad habit

10 steps to break a habit: #4 Find support who hates your bad habit. Join them and you feel pressure from them to continue.

5. Automation will save you a lot of energy

10 tips on how to build a habit- autopilot

Imagine you have to cook 100 portions of pasta. You have to cook all this pasta in a pot. But only one portion fits in this pot. You have unlimited time to accomplish this time. So, you start cooking the first portion. After that the next one and so on. Until you reach portion number 10. You start to feel demotivated and distract yourself with other stuff. Because you know there is no given time to finish it. Having a break after 5 days, you start cooking pasta again. But this time, you only cook 5 other portions. You just have no motivation left and soon you quit. Sounds familiar?

This example is the perfect illustration of how people quit. First, this task feels enormous. Second, because we have no pressure (no time limit) we think we can relax. And third, every time we do this task all over again, we lose a lot of willpower. This energy or willpower that I am talking about is used to overcome our laziness

The better your autopilot the less you spent willpower

The solution is the automation of the process. If you cook the pasta one by one without thinking that is automation. And this is what many people overlook about creating a better habit. When I started to visit Starbucks and worked on my projects, I need to push myself to go there. It was exhausting to push myself every Saturday to Starbucks. Especially, when all my friends enjoyed a beautiful Saturday. But with time, I do not have to push myself anymore. It was natural to sit there. I started to visit Starbucks once a week, then 2-3 times a week, and now I am every day at Starbucks. An act of discipline turned into an automized habit. And that is your goal as well.

Here are other tips to accomplish what I did. First, do a habit for 3 months without break and you immediately see yourself evolving. And secondly, remember the satisfaction after every session, every win, and every finished task. This will help you continue on your journey.

10 steps to break a habit: #5 Be consistent for 3 months and you will create automation. This automation will set your brain on autopilot and you finish tasks without you even realizing it.

Do you want to know more about this topic? Get more in-depth knowledge with this book: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

6. Concentrate on one Habit that matters

10 tips on how to build a habit - concentrate on one habit that matters

To be more efficient, set up all the things you want to do. And categorized them into actions, time, and location. By doing this, you will see that some tasks can be done together. In other words, some habits can react to a chain reaction of other habits.

For example, working out at 5 am has many benefits. First, the most important and nasty task will be accomplished early. Second, this habit increases the success rate for other habits. If you are working out early in the morning, you want to eat good food. Pumped with energy by the workout and the food you feel more productive for the rest of the day. You increase your productivity, your focus, and your efficiency. After leaving your work, you count all the things you have accomplished. The momentum is still there. So, you cook something new for dinner, clean the apartment, or do things that should have been done weeks ago. Imagine this in your life. The good news, it works for many people. Furthermore, it all started just by working out at 5 am.

There are many other key habits you should create for this kind of chain reaction:

  • a specific workplace (you will have the momentum to do all necessary tasks)
  • Smile more often (will improve other social abilities as well)
  • working out (will have a chain reaction which improves:  a healthy life, self-confidence,…)

10 steps to break a habit permanently: #6 Find your key habit and with the momentum, you can change other habits as well.

7. Bad habits can’t be extinguished

There is something true about the quote: “People never change.” I observed a lot of people. Most of them did not change over the past 5 years. They only change if something drastic happens in their life. But for the rest, they remain the same.

Do you know why? Because the desire we are seeking is the same, only in different forms. For example, a gambler and an investor are the same. You might see a huge difference. But I see nothing different. Instead of, gamble in a casino they gamble in the stock market. Different approaches but the same desire for success.

10 steps to break a bad habit: #7 Your bad habits and good habits exist to reward you. The big difference is the routine. For example, you want to feel relaxed. A bad habit of yours would smoke a cigarette. A good habit would be working out. Choose the latter.

Learn more about breaking a bad habit and creating a new one. Get the book: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

8. Small Wins

The worst part of entrepreneurship is not being appreciated. I put tears and sweat into many projects, posts, and tasks. But most of the time, these efforts are not seen at all. It happens numerous times that I considered quitting. So, I asked myself why I am doing this even though I will know that my effort will not be appreciated? This example is equal to breaking a habit. From time to time, we lose motivation and even worse we lose our goal. To prevent this we need to fill the process of habit-creation with small wins.

And small wins can be everything. For me, every like or comment on my post, Instagram post/story, or new subscriber is a big “small win”. Even though for the most it means nothing. I appreciate everyone who reads my blog posts. Because my message is formed by books and experience, most of them full of hurt, are well-received from strangers. In other words, even though you will do not see changes as fast, believe. Believe in a positive change that can change your life.

10 steps to break a bad habit: #8 Build small wins in your routine. So you experience the feeling of success. Once you experience your first success, use the momentum.

Do you want to know more about this topic? Get more in-depth knowledge with this book: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

9. Crave for more and Remember the Satisfaction

In the previous post, I mentioned that I wanted to quit smoking. Besides, for my habit-change project, I want to play fewer video games. Since first grade, I have played video games. Not only does it bring me joy, but it also gives me a sense of accomplishment. Every time I beat a boss or a player, I feel strong and unbeatable. My body and my mind remembered this feeling of invincibility. A feeling so strong that made me believe that I could take on everyone and everything. I played to achieve this feeling over and over again until it becomes a craving and a habit. However, I did not realize that a habit can be changed and I accepted that this habit will stick forever.

Until I changed a bit for the better that I believed habits can be changed. As mentioned under point 1, I switch my routine. Instead of craving for the feeling of invincibility via playing video games, I want to reach it with my work. And it happens rather quickly. Every time I finish something, I feel great. Not that strong while playing video games, but it is a good start. So, I continued working on it.

I became addicted to working. Furthermore, every time I see a Starbucks I already felt this feeling of invincibility. I would immediately go there, sat down, and started to hustle. The habit is still alive today.


10 steps to break a habit: #9 Remember this overwhelming feeling in every cell of your body. Repeat the routine to get this feeling and you become addicted. In other words, a better habit is born.

10. Take Responsibility for your Habit

Even when a habit is an automated, unconscious behavior, we are still fully responsible for our habits. And I mean all habits. It does not matter if you are addicted to crack, cocaine, sex, or, gambling, you had chosen this way a long time ago. In other words, stop blaming your miserable life on your habits, or even worse, your surroundings. Be aware that a habit can be changed, not easy for sure, but it is possible.

The most important tip is truly believing in change and yourself. Step up and do something about it.

10 steps to break a bad habit permanently: #10 Take responsibility for your habit and do no one else except yourself. As mentioned enough, change starts within ourselves.



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