Bad habits are hard to break. It’s a timeless saying, and you probably use it as your excuse for why you can’t stop doing something you know you shouldn’t be doing. But that’s your first mistake; thinking you can’t do something often hinders your ability to complete it. If you’re trying to break a bad habit and need a little motivation, stay tuned. Here’s how to kick bad habits like Jet Li in a Kung Fu movie.

What: Name that habit

Figure out what your bad habit is. It might even be something that you do without knowing it. But remember that just because something is a habit that doesn’t mean it is something you should change; good habits exist as well. To know if something is worth changing, think about its consequences. Ask yourself, “Does this action have bad consequences, and will I benefit from not doing it?” If the answer to both of those questions is “Yes,” then, congratulations, you’ve completed your first step.

This step is definitely the most important because you will need it as motivation. After identifying what the benefits of stopping your bad habit are, you can use them as motivation to keep you going if you ever feel like it gets too hard.

For example, many people bite their nails and have trouble stopping, especially if it is an outlet for nervousness or embarrassment. However, many who have this problem find the stubby appearance bit nails to be unattractive. Let’s say you’re trying to stop biting your nails. A good motivation would be how pretty your hands will look once your nails have grown out to the length of your choosing.

When: No time like the present

Timing is everything; you have to set realistic goals. That doesn’t mean that you can’t dream or set goals for your future, but when it comes to bad habits, you have to approach them realistically. It’s almost like the hype of starting a New Year’s resolution; many people do not complete them because they set unrealistic goals and place so much weight on completing the goal that it begins to feel like it is not accomplishable. Before you know it, you have another New Year’s resolution fail.

So if you really want to break your bad habit, you need to start with small change at the right time. The most important part is picking a time and sticking to it. Mentally prepare yourself for your change and make sure that when the date you chose arises that you don’t chicken out ― stick to it.

It’s also really important to start in the beginning of the week; that way, you can track your progress easily and won’t catch yourself saying, “It’s the middle of the week. Maybe I should start on Monday.”

For example, you know you have a really big trip coming up in two months, and you decide that you want to look and feel your best on your trip, so you decide that you are going to start drinking less soda and more water. You have 60 days to get on track; pick the first day of the month, and get started.

How: Hitting the jackpot

Remember that being realistic is the key to success. For example, if you have an addiction to coffee, do not expect to just be able to cut it cold turkey. Caffeine has strong addictive properties, so maybe you should try weaning yourself off it slowly. If you normally have six cups a day, cut down to five and so on until you are finally at one ― and then, hopefully, none. The truth is, the more obtainable a goal is the more likely you are to stay motivated to reach it.

So maybe your ultimate goal is to completely stop your bad habit, but you know it will take time. Along the journey to breaking your habit, combat any frustration or impatience by accomplishing those smaller individual goals first. Having smaller goals will make achieving your ultimate goal easier because, along the way, you’ll accomplish the little things. And before you know it, you will hit the jackpot.

When it comes to breaking a bad habit, you want to make sure that you follow your what, when and how. That will be the plan that helps you stick to your goal, even when it gets hard. Bad habits die hard, but if you mentally prepare yourself, plan out your steps and find ways to keep yourself motivated, you can and will be successful. In the words of Mr. Keys to Success, DJ Khaled, stay focused, work hard and never give up.

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