The Easiest Way to Overcome Bad Habits

Do you have a bad habit you’d like to overcome? If so, you are not alone. Millions of people want to quit smoking, stop eating junk food, or give up their sedentary lifestyle.

Solitary Pin Oak Tree - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/AVTG, Image #2915208

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/AVTG

But attacking the problem head-on may not be the answer.

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The pin oak tree (quercus palustris for you budding dendrologists) provides a fitting metaphor. One feature of this tree is that it retains its leaves during the winter months. Though the leaves die in the fall, they remain attached to the oak’s branches until the new leaves appear in the spring and push the old ones off the branch.

You could, of course, remove these leaves by hand. But that is a time-consuming and pointless exercise. The leaves will come off on their own when the new growth appear in the spring.

Bad habits are similar. You can focus your attention on eliminating them. Or, you can focus on developing positive habits. As you do so, you will naturally—and more easily—remove the bad habits.

Psychologists refer to this as sublimation.

For example, you could focus on:

  • Eating tasty, fresh vegetables instead of eliminating junk food
  • Drinking eight glasses of water a day instead of cutting down on your coffee intake.
  • Complimenting your spouse instead of breaking your pattern of arguing
  • Reading more books instead of cutting down the time you spend surfing the Internet
  • Praying for what you need instead of worrying about what you don’t want
  • Intentional relaxing rather than smoking
  • Taking up hiking rather than changing your sedentary lifestyle

You get the idea.

The main point is to focus on building a good habit rather than eliminating a bad one.

Question: What good habits do you need to start building? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Kingsly

    I like this and this is very true…the more you focus on the bad habit its hold on you gets stronger. Replacement is always the best way.
    I need to develop the habit of writing daily.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m working on that one myself!

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  • http://www.therextras.com BarbaraBoucher PTPhD

    Excellent, Michael! The decision to change is key, and the method can make all the difference in success or not. Like the tree analogy.

  • http://larryshallenberger.com Larry Shallenberger

    I think that we approach the whole of Christianity focusing on sin management instead of focusing on habit building/character development.

    Great post.

    I’ve been focusing on increasing my fruit veggie intake to 9-11 servings daily.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I like the phrase, “sin management.” I think that is exactly what we often do.

  • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com Courtney(WomenLivingWell)

    I just made a blog post on this last week only in parenting. Rather than always focusing on our children’s vices – find the opposite virtue and begin training them in that area. For example – if your child is selfish and not willing to share – give them an opportunity to be generous and then build them up for giving. If your child is critical. Train them to be an encourager. Begin working on it at the dinner table by having everyone say one positive thing about each other. If we train our children to be virtuous many of their vices will go by the way side.

    Now if I could just apply this in my own life – eat more veggies and fruit – eat more veggies and fruit – eat more veggies and fruit lol!!

    Thanks!
    Courtney

  • http://www.pastorbrett.com Brett

    Thanks for the pin oak tree illustration; it will be passed on to our congregation within a few weeks in a message.

    As for what good habits do I need to build? Two:
    Reading more books instead of watching television.
    Writing more instead of surfing the internet.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Ha! I actually got the illustration years ago from my pastor.

  • http://laboringinthelord.com Jon Clayton

    That is an excellent metaphor! Thanks.

  • http://onechoiceatatime.wordpress.com Michelle

    I like the idea of focusing on the positive. It definitely makes a difference. Two months ago, I gave up sugar and wheat, but only recently starting exercising and eating more “real” foods. It is SO much easier when I’m not focusing what I’m ‘sacrificing’.

    I also need to develop the daily writing habit. Do you have a favorite post with tips?

  • http://www.pastorbrett.com Brett

    Oh, and if I could add one more…

    Memorizing and meditating on Scripture instead of worrying.

    • http://twitter.com/thedailyrob Rob Brock

      Excellent and important point!

  • http://twitter.com/thedailyrob Rob Brock

    Thanks for the excellent post, Michael. I absolutely agree that it is critical to focus our energy on developing good habits. The only caveat I would add is that we need to not go so far that we merely let the old habit drop from neglect.

    Bad habits are like deep ruts in our life, and it is very easy to fall right back into them, even years later. Unless we are intentional about renouncing or confessing our old ways, we can’t ever be completely free of our old life.

    I think 1 John 1:5-10 offers the perfect balance between walking in the light (new habits) and confessing our sin (old habits): http://bit.ly/9fdZaG

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Excellent point. Thanks!

  • http://secondmilechurch.wordpress.com/ Luke Simmons

    Helpful post. Reminds me of the Puritan Thomas Chalmers’ sermon “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.” He writes in the opening paragraph:

    “THERE are two ways in which a practical moralist may attempt to displace from the human heart its love of the world – either by a demonstration of the world’s vanity, so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon simply to withdraw its regards from an object that is not worthy of it; or, by setting forth another object, even God, as more worthy of its attachment, so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon not to resign an old affection, which shall have nothing to succeed it, but to exchange an old affection for a new one.”

  • http://fearfultofearless.com Koozzz

    and the new leaves push out the old… love it! did you think that up on your own?

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Actually, I heard my pastor use this years ago.

  • http://www.validleadership.com James Castellano

    Daily physical exercise. I agree identifying the positive affirmation is far more effective than expressing the negative habit.

  • http://SequoiaThoughts.blogspot.com Connie Brown

    I like the positive spin on this subject.

    What good habit do I need to work on? This week provides a good excuse to invite people over to the house, my haven, my place of refuge. This week I’ll have a chance to practice hospitality, not only with family, but also with a friend or two.

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  • Gary

    1 – 3 on your list really hit home. I inherited genes that show themselves around the waistline. I have tried exactly what you said not to do, cutting out on the delights of the world, ice cream, pastries, so now I will try the better things of the world fresh veggies, which I like also. Thanks for the push.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    This is so true, Michael. The human mind cannot picture something negative. For example, the mind cannot conceive of not eating a large brownie. To picture it the mind must first paint a picture of the large, delicious, gooey, and very tasteful brownie. Now the mind must somehow picture not eating it, so it might picture the plate with the brownie on it being taken away.
    I don’t know about you, but the thought of an incredible brownie being taken away makes me want it all the more. Especially if it has fresh walnuts, pure cocoa, and was made by scratch by Betty Crocker.
    Obviously I could have saved myself a lot of grief by just thinking of a large piece of broccoli, fresh from the field, coated in a light buttery sauce, steaming on a plate in front of me.
    So… the key take away is… don’t think of BROWNIES. Put them completely out of your mind. (Or if you are like me, go have a little one and put the rest of the plate completely out-of-sight!!)

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      To illustrate this, I sometimes say, “Don’t think about pink elephants.” It’s nearly impossible. The only way to stop is to start thinking about something else. Brownies might even be a better example!

  • Rebecca

    Someone needs to inform the two huge pin oaks in my yard of this info. I spent the better part of yesterday raking fallen pin oak leaves. Last I checked, it is autumn. Hmmmm.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Evidently, once the trees get past about 24 feet tall, they begin to lose their leaves. Kind of like men and hair loss. ;-)

  • http://www.lincolnparks.com Lincoln Parks

    Thanks for Sharing this Michael!

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  • m e brooks

    Repentance We justify our inability/unwillingness to cease behaviors which are unwanted or destructive. Whereas we are able to restrain from murdering others. Very few are rapists. Very few break into houses and steal. So what is the difference? It is because we justify our actions that we can continue to do them. If God sees your behavior has sin then you are to just cease from doing it. Plain and simple. You have the ability to no Kill. So you have the ability to not do what ever it is that you are doing. Anything less than this means that you still value and desire to do what you claim that you don’t want to do.

  • http://www.Unwilling2Settle.com Greg Gilbert

    Great analogy. It’s all about deposits instead of withdrawals. That’s the way I look at it. I put on 1.5 pounds in 3 days recently and got excited. The reason I got excited was that after being brutally honest with myself, I realized I had made withdrawals over the last 3 days instead of deposits. I had not stuck to my plan. When I continue with and focus on deposits, good things happen. It’s not rocket science or a secret. Here is the blog on that: http://regretreduction.fastnez.net/blog/?p=4

  • http://andreaaresca.posterous.com/ Andrea Aresca

    Great post! The metaphor makes the idea stick!

    Just a question: what to do when the replacement habit seems not so obvious? What would you suggest for choosing the new habit?

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think this is where you have to get creative. Focus on the behavior you want or will lead to the outcome you want. Thanks.

  • Rodney Eason

    Michael,
    Good analogy. Some oaks along with American beech and sweetbay magnolia are good examples of this tendency (called tardily deciduous). The trees do not need these leaves, they just hang on like our bad habits. At each point of attachment, is a vibrant, sleeping bud just waiting to burst forth and provide new vigor for the tree.
    To take it a step further, every tree retains its juvenility near the base. The juvenile wants to hold on to its leaves for as long as it can. You can prune it out but not until the adult is fully mature. And the tree will not flower and reproduce until it takes on its mature form. The juvenile never goes away (sometimes you see juvenile suckers come out when a tree is stressed) but at some point it just makes sense to put more effort in developing the fruitful branches and overall health.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I was hoping a dendrologist would comment. (I just love saying that word!) Thanks for your additional insights. These are very helpful.

  • http://www.brianhinkley.com Brian Hinkley

    I need to better manage my time. I live this analogy and it’s a good reminder to focus on what I should start doing rather than what I should stop doing.

    Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (nkjv)

  • http://www.hearthope.org Olga Griffin

    Thank you for sharing this–especially at this time of year. I like the concept of focusing on the positive, not negative.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Me, too. So much of the input I get—especially from the media—is negative. I want to focus on the positive as well. Thanks.

  • http://www.Squidoo.com/NoTwitter Jeff

    Great post! I was bracing myself for the standard “think about what these bad habits are costing you!” routine…but your advice is a fresh perspective and very valuable in the time of year when we think about what we are Thankful for and what we want to improve in the new year.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Kristy

    I am going to start looking for creative, satisfying ways to “fill the space” in my day. I’d like to make a positive habit of being comfortable with gaps in my day, with the quiet, with down time… Instead of filling it with iPhone use, a show, or biting my nails :)

  • http://www.boynamedtracy.com td

    Exactly!

    Several years ago I lost over 100lbs practicing this precise method. Instead of going on a “diet” I ate better food. Instead of “trying to lose weight” I “was losing weight”.

    When you focus on the negative it your thoughts always seem to stay negative, and if you say you’re going to cut out Reeses PB cups then the one thing you can’t stop thinking about is PB cups.

    Anyway, great advice!

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for sharing this positive example. Excellent.

    • http://www.danieldecker.com Daniel Decker

      Amazing how simple shifts in perspective can have such significant results. Love it.

  • http://www.LaurindaOnLeadership.com Laurinda

    I love this. I’m definitely going to use this way of thinking. I fell of the wagon in regards to exercise a couple of years ago. I’ve become a weekend warrior. I really want to get back to exercising everyday and always eating better.

  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    I like that! A very positive approach.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    I like this novel strategy. I try to wake up early in the morning but, I fail regularly. I want to rise up early from the bed every day. I really want to get rid of this bad habit of getting late and losing many precious hours in my life. Of course, you have given a creative approach to overcome such bad habits. I need to focus on going to bed at right time so that I will able to wake up at right time.

  • http://pjlincoln.blogspot.com/ PJ Lincoln

    The biggest thing for me, personally and as a Christian, is eliminating foul language from my vocabulary. It tends to blurt out when I get angry or upset. It’s something I’ve done most of my life.

    Any suggestions?

    • http://smooreismore.blogspot.com Sean

      You could try replacing the word(s) you typically say with ones that make you feel foolish for even saying them. A friend of mine did that and the puzzled reaction of others was enough to eventually break him of the habit.

    • http://www.LaurindaOnLeadership.com Laurinda

      18 years ago, I recorded myself for a couple of days with a voice recorder. It was one of those ones that had the little tape cassettes. I hated the way I sounded and it was easy to stop after that. I think if you have a smart phone you can record yourself. I noticed my iPhone came with a digital voice recorder.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You might read Ephesians 4:29. What positive criteria do you see there?

  • http://www.tonyjalicea.com Tony Alicea

    Wow, this was SO good. I’m definitely sharing this one!

  • http://blog.greggstutts.com Gregg Stutts

    Mike,
    This is a great post. I have a number of men share with me their struggle with pornography. My counsel to them has been to not allow the guilt and shame to keep them from cultivating their relationship with God. Yes, it’s good to have accountability and internet filters, etc., but these efforts will fail if they are not actively pursuing something better. It’s much easier to control the weeds if the lawn is healthy.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is great counsel. Excellent.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    Blogging more instead of reading and commenting on other blogs.

    Of course, one of the main ideas behind commenting on other people’s blogs is to drive traffic to one’s own blog. But then I sometimes post a combined total of up to 1,000 words a day on other blogs, and my own gets maybe one or two new entries a month, so the whole exercise of driving traffic to my blog becomes somewhat pointless if I don’t keep my own content fresh.

  • http://peterpollock.com Peter P

    I have a nasty habit of not reading your blog very regularly.

    How do I fix that without attacking it head on?

    :-)

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Focus on the result: if you read my blog regularly, it will make you healthy, wealthy, and wise. ;-)

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Michael,

    Where our attention and energy goes, grows.

    It’s better to focus on creating positive habits. Negative thought patterns gradually dissolve when concentrating on positive thought patterns. Since force negates it’s better to quit fighting and start flowing.

    Thanks for sharing and have a powerful day!

    Ryan

  • Nat F.

    I got myself a pedometer. This helps me to consciously take more steps per day (park farther, take the stairs, etc.), which inevitably makes me more physically active. I despise going to the gym but this has helped me move closer to my goal of increasing my daily physical activity, even when I haven’t scheduled in some purposeful exercise time.

    Thanks for the insight!

  • http://thatguykc.wordpress.com ThatGuyKC

    Do you ever have one of those moments when the light bulb suddenly turns on above your head and you kinda want to smack yourself for not thinking of the bright idea sooner?

    Yeah, for me, this is one of those times.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great. I am glad to hear it!

  • http://www.willeymac.wordpress.com William McPherson

    I agree a positive habit is a better way to eliminate a negative one. I would like to ask though if anyone knows a way to get someone who does not like to exercise regularly; because they are 1)not physically inclined, 2)live like 15-20 min from a safe walking/running place, and 3) hate mornings. I need to break the bad habit of not taking care of myself physically while I am still young. I welcome all replies.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think it would be worthwhile for you to brainstorm some possible solutions. I would not focus on the activity per se, but the outcome you want from it (e.g., better health, better fitness, thinner waste line, more endurance, etc.).

  • http://www.christopherscottblog.typepad.com/ Christopher Scott

    I need to develop more of the good habit of reading daily. I use to read so much, but with added work and family responsibilities, I’ve gotten away from reading.

    I need to stop focusing on all the things I need to do, and focus on what I can learn from reading and how it is therapeutic in my own life.

  • http://grassycove.blogspot.com/ Cheryl Derrick

    Spending more time in the kitchen making cool stuff with food is a good habit I would love to focus on. I don’t think I would get any argument for taking up that hobby.

  • http://tumblingideas.tumblr.com Willie

    Single best piece of advice I’ve read. Thanks for sharing. As for my good habits, almost everything related to healthy lifestyle. So, in order to GTD, let’s say: more vegetables and resume swimming.

  • Angie Weldy

    Great illustration. I think focusing on the new habit is so effective because otherwise it’s too easy for the old habit to fall back into that empty slot it left open!

  • http://www.rowentree.com April Rowen

    Sublimation… brilliant!

  • http://building-his-body.blogspot.com/ Anne Lang Bundy

    VERY important concept! It has numerous applications, summed up in the principle of speaking with positives and avoiding negatives. Correct a subordinate or child by directing the correct course of action. Offer critique by stressing the deficient element. Treat priority people (and tasks) proactively rather than reactively.

    Trying to push out the negative creates a vacuum most easily filled by whatever fits the shape of the resulting void. Crowding out negatives with positives is far more effective. Imagine the power of our testimony if Christians could no longer be accused of defining ourselves by what we’re against rather than what we support.

  • http://cross-views.blogspot.com/ LP

    Thanks. This post encouraged me to start trying to eat more fruits and veggies instead of trying to eat less desserts.

    Btw, I think that this is also an interesting way to illustrate Lk. 11:24ff.

  • http://mynexthabit.com Vilmantas Baranauskas

    Positive thinking is great and I try to follow this advice myself. However, once I did a negative (“will not do xxx”) 30-day habit change trial and the result exceeded my expectations (in a positive way).

    Maybe installing positive habits is easier than getting rid of bad ones but the process might take longer. It is difficult to succeed with getting rid of a bad habit, but this might lead to a bigger change faster.

    Shameless pinch: I work on a web site where people may track and share their 30-day habit change trials: myNextHabit.com

  • http://www,twitter.com/juanbg Juan

    Hi Mike, I recently started running again, no a professional but running to be healthy. It was a habit I had lost, but since I made a mental decision to get back this habit I can’t stop now of doing it. If I do not run at least 2-3 miles a day I have this feeling that I need to do it. As you rightly say on your post, I focused on getting the new habit going not on changing what I did before. My point is focus on the activity in front of you. I started walking 1 mile, then 3 miles, then running 1 mile, then 2 miles, now I am running during the weekend 5 miles each day, and last Sunday I ran 10 miles. I also increased my pace to 9minutes/mile. But it has to be a gradual process, little steps, little runs, then you get your own pace. You feel good afterwards, the eral prize is that you feel good about you.

  • http://twitter.com/agirlmanager agirlmanager

    I need to learn how to disconnect of my job when I’m not working. Maybe my big error is trying to not thinking about job, instead of thinking about anything else. You are a very clever guy… ;) Nice post!

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    True… great points here!

  • http://Www.coachradio.tv Justin Lukasavige

    Great point Michael. I’ve been coaching for a number of years and have always found it more effective to help people replace their bad habits with good ones rather than telling them to stop their bad habits cold turkey.

  • http://moglue.com Chris

    I queue up pieces of your every morning; I love your ability to plainly state truth that for some reason I never noticed before.

    Cheers!

  • http://curtismarshall.tumblr.com Curtis Marshall

    Timely blog! I read an article in Fortune magazine yesterday about executive coaching. It highlighted the techniques and methods of Stephen Covey, David Allen, and Jim Loehr. The take-away for me was what I call “positive action.” There is no way to get anywhere unless you’re moving. Your car can’t even turn around without moving forward first. So it is with our goals.

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  • http://www.toddburkhalter.com Todd Burkhalter

    Great reminder, thanks for the inspiration. This will be particularly relevant as many will begin making New Years Resolutions.

  • http://www.alchemy4thesoul.com/blog Kath Roberts

    Good old fashioned common sense but not always common practise. You’re right of course when we can focus on what we positively want to create we get to work with more purpose and passion and our bad habits fall away as we become more intentional with where we are going.Once I decided I wanted to be a better role model in every way I lost the interest in smoking but then again when I found my passion for what I wanted to do with my life then the stress fell away and so too the need for a cigarette to calm the nerves!

  • http://yesugarden.blogspot.com Amrita

    Dear Michael, Namaste from India. I am so fortunate to have discovered your excellent blog. I have a lot to learn from you. God bless you

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thank you, Amrita. And welcome!

  • Anonymous

    cleaning and house keeping

  • Keith Smith

    All things are possible through Christ who strengthens me. Thinking about what you are thinking about is key when it comes to changing bad habits for me. If I tell myself that I’m not smoking today then I’m setting myself up for failure, because I’m still focused on smoking. My brain simply drops the “not”. I don’t know why this is but it always seems to be this way. I used Romans 8 vs 6 to stop smoking. When I was able to put together that the craving physically was loss of peace mentally and spiritually and that God promised to give me peace if I give him control of my mind, I would pray and give God control over my mind and ask for the peace he promised. Then peace would come over me and I would no longer think about smoking. And I was free to think about other things.

  • http://www.WooldridgeEquineArt.com Pat Wooldridge

    I like this concept. Following these suggestions will keep us positive, rather than feeling as though we’re depriving ourselves of whatever is a part of the bad habit. As with drinking much more water rather than cutting ‘way down on coffee. (The coffee-difficulty will pretty much take care of itself, as the new oak leaves take care of the old-oak-leaf problem at the proper time). Makes me think of the first part of the verse in Proverbs that says a merry heart does good like a medicine.

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  • http://www.liveonpurposecoach.com Deneen

    I love your thoughts regarding habits. I also heard an interesting thought at church regarding habits. “People don’t decide their future. People decide their habits and their habits decide their future. ”

    I need to read as much as I surf the net!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great quote. I like that.

  • http://twitter.com/barrykahan Barry Kahan

    Enjoyed this. What I liked is it seems to focus on the fastest way towards success…..take action instead of inaction.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Wow. You really have a way of digging into my life. My habit (at least one of them) that I’m trying to build and develop is a more regular exercise routine. I’m about to turn 40, and I deal with borderline high blood pressure. Not looking forward to what the Dr will have to say on the next appointment about fitness, so I’m trying to start ahead of that.

    I joined a gym.

    That counts for something, right?

  • http://twitter.com/lovinglyyoursG Georgiana

    What an excellent metaphor! It is extremely difficult to break bad habits once they become ingrained in our everyday routine. It takes both mental observation and physical application to replace the negative with a positive. I have found that if you can actually maintain the positive behavior consistently for an average of 30 days the negative behavior becomes part of your past and no longer occupies your present. :-)

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  • http://www.theactsproject.wordpress.com/ Angie Merrick

    I need the Word down deep in my bones. When I settle into it, I get God-help, not self-help. It’s the best. 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.gudger Ian Gudger

    I really love your post! Thanks for sharing such an important idea and metaphor. I wrote a blog yesterday about this same topic and found your post to be one of the best out there in terms of solving this problem. Here is my blog post in case anyone is interested: http://www.prayerfulresponse.com/2012/11/question-stopping-bad-habits.html

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  • http://twitter.com/AlanEMeyers AlanMeyers

    What a great word, the weird thing is that it actually works. That’s why I advocate seeking a better connection with God thru prayer more than trying to be a good person.

  • Queenmaureen47

    i want build a habit on talking to people gently and softly. i also want to build a habit on singing very well and self discipline

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  • DJ

    I have a habit of humming too much and my dad asks me why I’m doing it, but I don’t know. How can I overcome my habit?

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  • Eva Baaza

    praying..loving God once again, giving my time to people around,cleaning exercising, healthy eating

  • Michael McGreevy

    I have the bad habit of accomplishing my work in response to external pressures rather than a disciplined, daily, methodical approach. This was so insightful, thanks Michael!

  • Robin Dix

    I need to stop spending, so would I be looking for ways to save? Not sure

  • Joyce

    I agree that taking on new habits is the best way. And for me, committing to focusing on one new habit at a time is a habit I need to develop. I tend to take on way too many important things at a time, and pretty soon I find that none of them are getting done.

  • Melinda Todd

    Definitely need to be writing instead of surfing the net. I am easily distracted. squirrel! :) I have a potty mouth when I get angry. I’m not sure how to break that one! Trying really hard to keep myself in check so that I don’t get upset enough to reach that point. Easier said than done.

  • Debra Westbrook

    Great post. I have been thinking a lot about this also. It seems that whenever I make something a law unto myself, I end up thinking about it all the time, which defeats the purpose. Does not work. Focusing on developing good habits just allows them to be incorporated into my life over time. I like that and it feels great too.

  • Nancy

    I am a CBT trained counselor and I love what you just did there! Thank you for sharing, Michael..

    I used to hate to exercise and forget to drink water as I tend to get busy and frequently interrupted ….they seemed less appealing compared to sleeping and I didnt have time to monitor my fluid intake..but deep down I knew they were just excuses!

    Then I started swimming at the club and began to enjoy it so much that I joined their gym. Then I started thinking about how to max out my usage as it is not a pay per use. So I joined the dancing classes…and progressively moved on to yoga and pilates, which I now practise 4 times a week and attend gym about that often too. I feel good and managed to lose weight as well! Naturally I drink more water now and it has become an unconscious habit. Needless to say, I love this new me now and hope to try new things now that my brain is aware that I can overcome things I feared or disliked by having a different perspective. It’s like killing 2 or 3 birds with one stone! So, you are right.. It’s much better to focus on what we can do and love what we do…rather than being focused on our shortcomings, because, like sin-management, they only make us feel worse about ourselves and it derails us.

  • Dave Gullett

    Great post, Michael. However, I don’t get the relevance of the inline blurb for Brett’s book…even though its excellent. Such blurbs might be effective in getting clicks, but they break the flow of reading and “cheapen” the experience of reading your stuff.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for you input. Those links help pay to support the site.

      • Dave Gullett

        I understand. And I’m grateful that the ads let you share so much with all of us for free. I’m just questioning the placement of the ad. It might generate tons of clicks but it does so at the cost of readability.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          Ah, okay, I see now.

          Yes, I stopped doing that after a short experiment for exactly that reason. Unfortunately, I didn’t remove the legacy code that is in those posts.

  • William Reed

    In 2014 I will focus more on my boys’ strengths and God given gifts instead of their quirks. I will laugh more with them. I am too serious a parent.

  • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

    Cool idea, Andy. Thanks.

  • Tom Tonkin

    This is one area that I have much professional expertise. May I strongly suggest anyone that is truly struggling with a bad habit to read Charles Duhigg’s book ‘The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business’. It takes a look at habit from a neurological perspective and gives it a logical view. I won’t give it away, however, it decomposes a habit into smaller parts and helps us understand what we can do to. Very much inline with what you have outlined Michael. Thank you for allowing me to post.

  • Muhammad Nasir

    I am software developer, so all my time in my office goes in front of computer, thats ok. But when i come back to my flat, again I spend most of time using my laptop without doing some meaningful things. I have bought many books of different categories so i could spend some time without laptop but i am unable to do that. I want to improve my English writing but unable to do that because while sitting of laptop and focusing on work my most time goes checking emails, facebook, watching cricket etc. i want to get ride this habit and want to do some meaningful and valuable work.

  • http://www.katieneer.com Katie Neer

    Such great advice! I have had a terrible nail-biting habit since I was about 3 years old (I am now 31). I have tried EVERYTHING to quit. Sometimes I will let the nails grow, but I always end up failing again. This is incredibly frustrating because they hurt, and I am very self-conscious about the way they look. You’d think that would be enough to get me to stop!

  • Jenny Butler MD

    I quit drinking diet pop (soda) by turning my attention to trying to like green tea. It worked! No pop in more than 3 weeks!