Forming habits is a biological double-edged sword.

When you form the bad ones, it can ruin your entire life. When you form the good ones, it can catapult you to an unlimited level of success.

If you happen to have certain bad habits (which I’m sure you have if you are honest enough), here’s the 4-step model to break them down so you can live a better, healthier, and more productive life.

In short, breaking bad habits involve this behavioral change pathway:

Awareness -> Replacement -> Prevention

You must first be AWARE of the problem (bad habits), before you are able to find an alternative better new habits to replace the old one and implement strategies and systems to prevent the old ones from occurring.

So here’s the 4- Step Model you can use to break habits.

Step 1: Identify The Bad Habits & Figure Out The CAUSES Behind

Ask yourself:

  • What primal needs are these bad habits providing me?
  • What pleasurable benefits am I getting from these bad behaviors?
  • What pains am I temporarily avoiding by performing this bad thing?

Find them out so you understand what effective actions you can take later.

Step 2: Identify the TRIGGERS + Put PREVENTIVE Measures To Avoid Them

As author of the <The Power of Habit> Charles Duhigg has mentioned, there’s always a Cue, Routine and Reward in any habits.

So what are the environmental cues that trigger your routine of old behaviors?

What are the ROOTS of your habit that short-circuit your consciousness and make you jump into a default action?

How can you set up measures to prevent yourself from being triggered by these influences?

What can you do to be more aware of these triggers?

Step 3: REPLACE Bad Habits With New Beneficial Habits

As easy as it sounds, you want to replace the old habits with new good ones that can also satisfy the same NEEDS as the old unhealthy habits.

If you only eliminate the bad ones, you are depriving yourself of satisfying a psychological or physical need that your body or mind wants. So be creative about finding some constructive ones so you don’t feel losing something when you change your behaviors.

Step 4: Create A Plan, So You Stick To Your New Routine

To support your transition from bad to good, you must create supporting habits so you can facilitate the change 10 times easier.

Supporting habits are triggered by behaviors. For example, if you want to go running first thing in the morning to lose your belly fat, you’ll put your running gears (trainers, vests, watches, sunglasses) right next to your bed so you do it immediately once you’re awake.

Also, setting up a public accountability system will greatly increase your chance of success because as humans, we are almost always more productive when we have a mild form of constructive stress of “being watched.” It causes you to take more action, become more motivated, feel more supported, and sustain the new behaviors longer.