Breaking up is hard to do… especially with a bad habit.

There are lots people talking about how to change the major aspects of your life, but I haven’t seen a significant focus on the little things in life. Those little habits that bother you, but have not yet convinced you to take the stand to stop them.

While everyone has their own way of dealing with these things, and I hope the next few tips can help you break those unwanted habits.

1. Recognize the habit, and make the conscious decision to stop it. While this may sound like a no brainer, think back to the last time you considered getting rid of this habit. Did you stop what you were doing, and say to yourself ‘I will stop this habit’ or was it just an idle thought that passed through your head. This initial resolve is very important, and without it, many people fail before they even truly begin.

2. Come up with a plan. For some people the best way to rid themselves of a habit is to go cold turkey, and stop right then and there. For others they need to taper down slowly and ween themselves off. Both ways can work, and I’ve used both myself at different times, for different habits. The important part is to decide what method is best for you, and then to draw up a plan to follow it. This can be as simple as circling the date on the calendar when you are going to stop, or as elaborate as drawing up a schedule of milestones.

3. Start the withdrawal process. Once you start taking action, as planned above, you are going to eventually feel some form of withdrawal. It’s normal, and nothing to be worried about. Whether you are looking to kick a serious drug habit or just to stop biting your nails, you will get the urge to go back to your old ways. The important part here is starting your plan and making it to that first milestone, the craving.

4. When the craving hits, relax. Congratulations, you’ve started the process and made it to the point where a part of you wants to give up and go back to the habit. Of course, this is the hardest part, but at this point the most important thing you can do is give yourself time. Take a deep breath and find a way to distract yourself for the seconds, minutes or even hours that it takes to get past that craving. It will pass eventually, but getting there can be rough sometimes. Stand strong! Once you get past it, be proud of yourself. It’s not easy to resist a craving, especially right in the beginning of the process.

5. Reward yourself. If you’ve made it this far, find a way to reward yourself, but don’t use anything that would lead you to slip back into your old ways as a reward. Something token that is special to you can often be a good motivator, and keep you going on the path to breaking the habit. If you have milestones set in your plan, then use those as an opportunity for a more significant award. If not, use anniversaries – weekly, monthly, etc. – as long as it helps to keep you on task.

6. Keep going. You know at this point that you can get past the hold of the habit, because you’ve done it before. Now just keep on progressing and see where it takes you. For some habits, and some people, a month may be enough to feel like you have control, but for others it can take years, or a lifetime of fighting against the urges. Research has shown that it takes about 30 days to make a new habit, and to incorporate it into your daily routine. If only breaking them was that easy.

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