Letting go of bad habits

We all have bad habits. Sometimes, these are small and seemingly harmless, like a person biting their nails or forgetting to put empty coffee cups in the recycle bin. Other bad habitual behaviours can have potentially risky outcomes, like regularly driving beyond speed limits or reaching for comfort foods too often. Perhaps the most detrimental to well-being are the repetitive thoughts and reactions within our own minds. No matter the specifics, all of us can improve our quality of life by replacing bad habits with good ones – another way to focus on our health, wealth and happiness.

Taking ownership

Eating and sleeping well are critical to personal well-being, yet so many struggle with these fundamental needs. What comes naturally versus what is right is so often not the same thing. Some of our “natural” bad behaviours are habits developed throughout our lives, and some are inherited from within our families. The first step towards change is to become the objective observer of our patterns so we can identify them. Then comes taking ownership. Whether minor or truly life-changing, there is power in taking responsibility and ownership – without any self-judgement or self-recrimination.

Then we are in a better position to prioritize, select, and address. Replacing bad habits with good ones is a key strategy to employ. The best place to start is by making the easiest changes. The chances of success are higher. Success will provide the sense of accomplishment necessary to fuel the willpower required for more difficult battles. (Of course, this approach to prioritization must be evaluated against immediate risks associated with any bad habit.) We thought this excellent, helpful article we found at The Habit Academy is well worth sharing.

Bad habits apply to personal finance, too

Most successful, wealthy people have already conquered bad financial habits like over-spending or failing to pay bills on time. (Here’s a fun article for those still struggling with the basics.) We often meet people who don’t regularly review their financial plan, or worse, don’t have one.
Consistent neglect of this process is a bad financial habit of a subtler variety. Regular review of a financial plan can help identify when one has become underinsured or when a will has become outdated (and so much more) and is imperative to protect against a large variety of undesirable financial repercussions.

Habits make us human

Habits aren’t necessarily all bad; all the things we do on auto-pilot are habits too, like brushing our teeth, locking up the house when we leave, or taking the same route to work. Says Russell Poldrack, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, “We want the brain to learn how to do those things without energy and effort. Habits are an adaptive feature of how the brain works.1” Good habits leave us with more energy that is better applied towards high-level thoughts, creativity, focus, and better health. Bad habits can lead us astray. And to quote from The Habit Academy homepage, “[Good] Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement”. We agree.

Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.Warren Buffett


1 http://time.com/5373528/break-bad-habit-science/

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