How to Stop a Bad Habit…or Start a Good One

Image: Workout Weights and Shoes

Looking for something to give this holiday season? Why not give the gift of change? The ability to adapt and change is essential to life success and it’s a valuable, yet inexpensive, gift you can give your family and friends.

If you’re like me you probably have a few habits, some good, some not so good. Why wait until the New Year to change?

Whether you want to start a good habit or stop a bad habit the steps to success are similar and relatively simple. The hardest part is to commit to begin.

Habit study

Many of us have heard it takes about 7 days to start a habit and 30 days to stop a habit. I’ve done some research and can’t seem to find any data to support those figures.

One study [1] I did find indicated it takes an average of 66 days to form a habit. Bummer. Thirty days sounds pretty good now. An encouraging finding was missing a day didn’t seem to effect the outcome. So participants that failed on some days were just as likely to ultimately succeed as those participants who had a perfect record.

Habit hindrance

What prevents most people from forming or breaking a habit is complacency. You’ve heard people say, “Oh, I could never do that.” Their right. The first step to forming any habit is to believe that the goal is attainable. Whatever it is, less eating, more exercise, less smoking, more laughing, you have to believe you can do it. Once you’re convinced you can accomplish the goal, below are 5 easy steps to start or stop any habit.

Keep in mind, there are longer lists but these are the bare essentials.

 Five steps to habit harmony

  1. Believe – Every life change starts with a belief. “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”– Henry Ford
  2. Set a super easy goal. Keep in mind easy for one person can be hard for someone else. Don’t let other people tell you what’s easy. You decide.
  3. Do – Stick to your schedule and if you fail don’t beat yourself up, just begin again.
  4. Monitor  – This is critical. DO NOT skip this step. Find a place to monitor your progress whether it’s a blog, a spreadsheet, an app, a journal or the kitchen calendar.
  5. Repeat  – We always have room for improvement. Go find another habit to conquer, good or bad.


Habits are powerful things that can drive us to success or failure.  Click here to tweet this.

Take control of your habits today. While you’re at it, encourage someone else who is trying to start or stop a new habit.

Image: wade.mealing


1) Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C. H. M., Potts, H. W. W. and Wardle, J. (2010), How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 40: 998–1009. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.674

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Robert is the founder of | Mediocrity-Free Living. He is passionate about helping people discover the rewards of daily giving.

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