As someone who’s lived a long long time, I can tell you first hand: if you want to turn bad habits around, you have to know one secret and 3 keys to overcoming negative habits.
A Common Goal – Sort Of
Everyone has negative habits they want to get rid of. I have a habit of going slack jawed and drooling every time I walk down the street. My friend Okl’n has a habit of walking in the graveyard at night and getting frozen solid. Flying squids have a habit of grabbing unsuspecting victims, taking them high in the air, and then dropping them to earth. We all get it.
Overcoming negative habits requires one special secret even before you use the 3 keys. The best way to explain it is to talk about Goliath, our local lumbering mutant.
Lumbering Mutants and Toxic Waste
Goliath loves to grab zombies and throw them into the toxic ooze we call Larry Lake. When he first started doing this, we tried rescuing whoever he grabbed. The problem with that is that it left Goliath’s hands empty, so he just grabbed someone else.
As we zombies are quick thinkers, we soon devised a plan.
We would find something big and shiny – an old toxic waste drum, or a less old toxic waste drum – and distract him with it. He would drop the zombie and grab the drum.
It’s this same principle that is the secret for overcoming negative habits.
Distraction and Habit Vacuums
The thing is if you’re a smoker, you think about smoking all day. Sure, if someone puts you out or the toxic ooze that was on your skin comes off, you may stop smoking, but you won’t stop thinking about it.
When something has become a part of your life, like a habit, you can’t just remove it. It’s like Goliath. As soon as you get rid of what’s there, its hands are empty and it’s looking for something to fill that void. It leaves what’s known as a habit vacuum. You’ll either start that negative habit again or pick up a new one.
Instead, you need to replace a bad habit with a good one. Just like we would get Goliath’s attention with an old metal drum, you can change a bad habit by replacing it with a good one.
So now that you know the secret to overcoming negative habits, I can tell you the 3 keys for positive habits – the things you need for overcoming negative habits.
Make It Easy
If you want to start a new habit, the first thing to do is make it easy. Too often we look to become amazing overnight, when all we need to do is move forward.
The way a habit is created is over time. It’s not how much time you put in, but how consistently (after all, slow and steady wins the race). Doing something for 48 hours straight doesn’t make it a habit; it makes you tired. Doing something for 5 minutes a day for 60 days makes it a habit.
It’s better to play a new instrument 5 minutes a day than try to do an hour. Changing your schedule to accommodate an hour will be overwhelming and frustrating, making building that new habit harder. Doing it 5 minutes a day will make it easy, and in a couple months you will have a new habit.
Overcoming negative habits means finding a positive habit to replace it with by making it easy. Then do it consistently.
To build the habit, you must do it daily. That’s the way habits are made. By doing it every day, it becomes a part of who you are and your identity.
Overcoming negative habits requires doing it every day. Good news: that means fun every day!
Finally, add fun to the activity. This is how you take control of your life and have fun doing it.
If you are cleaning every day, add some music. If you are picking up debris in the yard, make it a race to see how quickly you can pick up 50 items. If you are writing, add a reward for accomplishing your writing goal, like doing something you enjoy or a small treat.
When you make a task easy to do, do it consistently, and add fun, you make building a positive habit simple. These are the 3 keys to overcoming negative habits.
- Make It Easy: Make the task so easy you’re ready to do it now.
- Be Consistent: Create long, uninterrupted streaks of daily activity.
- Add Fun: Find ways to spice up the activity with excitement and rewards.
That’s it! It’s what we call easy, streaking fun. It’s the way to change negative habits into positive ones and avoid the lumbering mutants of grief that will try to grab you and hold you and cause you… issues… and make you struggle… with the stuff.