How to Break Bad Habits and Actually See Change

Simple Takeaway:

The most effective way to break bad habits is to focus on creating new, better habits to replace them. Spending energy trying to fix bad habits is a waste of time. Focus instead on taking small, incremental actions that serve as micro-investments into the kind of person you want to become. Your bad habits will die along the way by default.

By default, things die.

Plants, buildings, our bodies – it’s all breaking down slowly but surely.

The same is true for our minds, our souls, and our spirits.

When left on their own, they don’t maintain – they die. Choices, on the other hand, give life.

They can give life to the things we want, or they can give life to the things we don’t want.

Choosing to drink alcohol until you pass out is giving life to insecurity, fear, withdrawal, self-indulgence, and addiction. Choosing to switch to water after a few drinks is giving life to self-control and peace.

Pretty simple, right?

What you choose lives, and everything else dies by default.

If you want to change bad habits, the only way to do it is to take life away from those habits by giving life to something else through your choices.

As much as the world around us tells us that we should just stop doing the things we want to see change about ourselves, avoiding the behaviors and habits we want to break is actually incredibly ineffective.

By actively avoiding something, we’re feeding it energy.

Therefore, the thing you give energy to – by choosing to avoid it – is actually the thing that gains more momentum and energy. 

Then we wonder why we can’t break habits we’ve attempted to avoid for years. It’s because we’ve been feeding them attention and energy instead of diverting our choices to something more productive.

That happens one small decision at a time. It’s not something that happens in one big monumental moment.

Put your energy elsewhere, and bad habits die by default. They have no choice.

If you want to stop drinking too much alcohol, instead of trying to force yourself to stop, focus on doing other activities, having more conversations, and spending more time and energy on positive outlets.

When we divert our choices to the things we want to see thrive in our life instead of avoiding what we dislike, then our habits and character start to change.

The positive change you want to see is NOT going to fall in your lap once all the other areas of your life are in order.

You don’t have to “fix yourself” in order to create better habits.

We tend to think that positive change only happens once we fix what’s broken.

But the truth is, positive change happens when we simply start planting small seeds of action in the areas where we want to see things grow.

  • Want to be less afraid of public speaking? Start looking for small opportunities to speak in front of people.
  • Want to stop losing your temper on your kids? Start looking for little opportunities to be positive and joyful with them.
  • Want to be more focused at work? Spend the first 30 minutes of your day prioritizing the rest of the day.

If you mess up, fine. Just water the seed again tomorrow.

Don’t focus on changing. Focus on planting seeds.

Don’t worry about where you shouldn’t plant seeds or where you planted seeds that produced bad things in the past.

If you want to see positive change happen, start planting seeds where you want trees. When you do that, everywhere else will die by default.

What if we focused more on giving compliments than we did on trying to fix our negative attitude?

Then, our tendencies to complain would simply die by default since our energy is going elsewhere.

Choose to apply your energy to the things you want to see live instead of applying your energy to avoiding or fixing the areas you don’t want.

Ask yourself:

What small action can you take tomorrow to plant or water seeds for the kind of person you want to be in the future?

Love, lift up, encourage, celebrate, and pray for the things you want to see grow.

Your choices are life-giving acts of faith, and it’s your choices that decide what lives and what dies both in your life and in our culture.