Breaking Bad (Habits)

November 12, 2018

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By Cai Huitian

Most of our actions in life are habitual. Habits define your character. This is true, especially when you consider that most youths who practise good habits are independent problem-solvers. Exercising good habits makes you appear more confident and productive. And, it is through such practice — among other things — that strong, self-sustainable leaders are produced. As Dr Tony Tan, the President of Singapore, said in 2014, “our young must take the torch, run faster and further, and keep Singapore’s light burning bright”. It is important to nurture the talents of youths today so that they can become future leaders.

We all have bad habits, and they are countless: from procrastination and being late for meetings to having negative thoughts and unhealthy diets. Here are some ways to replace bad habits with good ones:

BECOME MORE AWARE OF YOUR BAD HABIT

Keeping a record of your bad habits is helpful. That may take the form of a checklist. Find out how frequent and under what circumstances you engage in such behaviours. This will make you more aware of them.

REMOVE THE TRIGGERS

Triggers are causes for bad habits. Keep away from or make adjustments to the things that cause them. For example, your environment can sometimes make your bad habits harder to break. Change or avoid environments that trigger your bad habits, and you can change the outcome.

REPLACE YOUR BAD HABIT WITH A POSITIVE HABIT

Have a plan for what you will do to replace your bad habit. Be open-minded about this. For example, you can make a conscious effort to praise others instead of criticising them. And, instead of spending a lot of time on social media, you can try reading a book or completing a part of your assignment first.

FIND AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER

Consider finding someone to help you break your bad habits. Share your goals with them and ask them to warn you if you slip back to your bad habits. Having a partner will also help boost your motivation.

PLAN FOR FAILURE

We can always hope for an easy change or a 100% success rate. However, the truth is that most people slip up now and then. The important thing is that you get back up. Identify the reasons for the recurrences of your bad habits first. Only then can you plan to achieve success the next time.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit”, a reminder from Aristotle that success does not come overnight. It is important to note that having the skills to break bad habits is not enough. Changes will only take place when you utilise these skills and persevere through tough challenges.

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