How to Break Bad Habits With 3 Simple Adjustments

by Gideon Hanekom
January 27, 2017

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Since habits often determine the quality of your life, in this post, we’re looking at how to break bad habits with 3 simple adjustments in your life.

Your current status quo is the culmination of behaviours that have been practised over time.

Mostly every consequence you have right now, whether it’s being overweight, healthy and thin, broke, affluent, miserable, ecstatic, lonely, happily married, or whatever, is directly or indirectly the result of your habits and choices over time.

Persistent habits of attention, thinking, feeling, behaving, and acting or reacting.

That is essentially what it comes down to.

You might have been looking for some huge underlying reason or explanation but that’s what it ultimately comes down to.

Now, I appreciate that this notion can be challenging for some to accept because, of course, there are exceptions to the rule.

But, those exceptions are often few and far between.

Most people I know, myself included, are simply a product or reflection of our own habits and behaviours practised persistently, sometimes incessantly, over a long period of time.

Even when we know that some things aren’t working, we keep trying, only to be surprised when we get the same results again and over again.

So, certainly, it can be a hard idea to swallow, but once you do, you realise that there is a huge possibility in this notion of habits that can change any outcome in your life.

You realise that,

The fastest way to create a new quality of life is by changing the quality of your habits.

But, in order to do so, you must first learn how to break bad habits that are detrimental to your life and replace them with better, healthier behaviours.

This is a key part of success.

But it’s not always that easy to do, and chances are you know that already.

So in this post, we will look at 3 simple adjustments you can make to break bad habits and start creating better results in your life.

break bad habits

A few years ago I was more than 30 kg overweight, sick, and unhealthy. I wasn’t in a good place.

But I managed to turn things around.

During that process I learned 2 powerful lessons:

  1. To make a huge change in your life you must have an even bigger reason WHY you want to change or create a new result.
  2. To create lasting change in your life (or an area of your life) you must REPLACE unhealthy, unhelpful habits with healthy, helpful habits.

Why habits? Because habits are automatic behaviour that we do without thinking.

Unless your new behaviour becomes a habit, i.e. an unconscious, automatic behaviour that you do without thinking, your results will be short-lived.

You will have to rely on willpower, which is a very ineffective strategy. Simply because willpower is a limited resource.

You can only “force” yourself so much, before giving in or giving up.

It’s super important to realise how powerful bad habits really are.

Bad habits can have more impact on your life than you ever imagined.

You may try to overlook obvious bad habits like smoking, drinking too much alcohol, eating unhealthily etc., but they ultimately end up wreaking havoc in your life.

It’s also easy to miss more “covert” behaviours like procrastination, quitting, and self-doubt, but I can nearly assure you that their bad consequences will spread throughout your life.

Bad habits can destroy any good intentions, as well as any positive result or objective you desire if left to their own devices.

The question you must ask yourself right now is whether or not you believe it is time to break those bad habits and replace them with habits and behaviours that will get you what you want.

Imagine how your life could change if you let go of them and replace your bad habits with positive, healthy, helpful habits and behaviours instead.

Your health stands to benefit, your relationships will blossom, and your confidence would soar. Everything has a chance to be improved.

So how do we do it?

We begin by making three simple life adjustments.

I’ve learned from my own life and having worked with hundreds of clients, that small adjustments or small incremental improvements are the most effective way to create a new result in almost any area of life.

break bad habits

People frequently seek the big secret or the huge thing they can do to change things, but this is a mistake.

When we make small, calculated, and effective changes, we typically get better results over time.

Start to break bad habits with three simple life adjustments

Consider the repercussions

Consider how bad habits negatively affect your life as a guaranteed strategy to motivate yourself to break them. They may also have an impact on the lives of friends and family.

If your conscience kicks in during this phase, that’s a good thing.

It means that you’re fully aware of the impact of those unhealthy habits.

Perhaps you’ve been blocking them out of your mind, but now you acknowledge it’s time to make a change.

People are typically more motivated by fear than gain.

This is very important to remember about your own motivation too.

Even though we might say we want to achieve such and such because we will get this and this from it, the reality is any result we typically envision also moves us away from something else we fear.

For example, I might say that I’m expanding my business to make more money, but the greater motivator would be the fear that not making more money might mean letting my family down, or not being respected by others.

When we want to break bad habits, we have to consider how they negatively impact our results.

We then use that fear to motivate us into breaking and replacing them with more positive, healthy, and helpful habits.

I call this, creating mental leverage.

This is exactly what I used to lose around 30 kg, become healthy and fit again, as well as a world-ranked masters sprinter in my age group.

Another way of putting it is, what is the cost of your current bad habits?

If you can really envision and feel the cost of your current unhealthy and bad habits to yourself as well as those around you, you will experience motivational energy that will kickstart your desire to create better results.

Break bad habits

Wouldn’t you prefer to just live with your mind at ease, knowing that you doing everything you can to do right by yourself and those you love?

If that’s the case, realise that taking control of the outcome of situations (as much as you can) is the first step toward having a relaxed mind and heart.

Think of yourself, your dreams and your future, as well as your loved ones, and avoid letting your bad habits and behaviours hurt any of these.

It’s simply not worth it.

Determine the desired results or outcomes

Take a moment to go through your “life wish list.”

How many have you accomplished?

What changes can you make to your life so those wish list items become a reality?

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when trying to create better results in their life or business, is being unsure or unclear about the desired result.

They might have some idea, but it’s not dialled in.

Getting what you want, whatever it might be, requires you to be very clear about the desired result.

Without clarity, you cannot achieve any goal!

One, because you don’t know where you’re going.

And two, without knowing where you’re going you can’t know whether or when you’ve arrived or not.

Break bad habits

Therefore, prioritise your desired wishes.

Focus on them one at a time.

Then, look at what needs to change, so that you can achieve them.

If it means breaking bad habits, then go for it!

If it means adopting new habits, then go for that!

Whatever it takes …

Listen, when you decide to focus on your goals, you automatically change your way of thinking.


Because energy flows where focus goes.

I know it’s an old saying, but it’s true.

Whatever we focus on in our mind, expands in reality.

The more you focus on seeing opportunities, the more you will see them.

But conversely, the more you focus on reasons for the seeming lack of opportunities, the more closed doors you’ll encounter.

As a result, devise a strategy for reminding yourself of your goals on a daily basis and renewing your commitment to them on a daily basis.

I don’t care if it means meditation, affirmations, reading something inspiring, listening to music, reading through your list of objectives, making a new list of goals every morning, or anything else; just commit to a daily technique for renewing your dedication to your desired outcomes.

And in the process, make sure you focus on self-driven priorities, rather than those dictated by others.

Because, at the end of the day, you’re the only one who knows how to make yourself truly happy.

You are you, and they are them.

Nobody knows what is good for you except you.

So, listen to others for the sake of learning and growing, but make up your own mind about what is true and real for you.

Then adjust your life to that.

Challenge yourself

Many people like to think they are unconquerable. Maybe you do too.

If that’s the case, why not challenge yourself to break bad habits?

Break bad habits

As a rule, people grow through challenges.

We might not always like challenges, but we definitely need them to get better.

It’s only when we are challenged that we push ourselves a little bit more than usual. Sometimes a lot more.

We need to use that to our advantage.

Challenging yourself is healthy and will benefit your life when it means making positive life changes.

But surprisingly, you may find it more difficult than you expected. And that’s what makes it a challenge!

However, when you make life a little uncomfortable for yourself and you choose to see it through, you might discover just how much resilience and determination you actually possess.

You need to tap into those positives and overcome your undesirable habits.

So, instead of viewing your bad habits as insurmountable, consider them a mountain to be overcome.

Break bad habits

See it as a challenge. Challenge yourself. Throw the gauntlet out.

I know talk is easy and you, like I, like talking in some areas of our life.

When it comes to your true desired outcomes in life, though, the time for talking is over.

Talking doesn’t help much here. You must want more, step up, and then make it happen.

And while this may make you feel uncomfortable and out of your comfort zone at times, it is the price of admission.

Listen, if every worthwhile result was easy to get, everyone would be super happy and successful.

But they’re not.

And the reason is that people as a rule avoid fear, discomfort, and the unknown.

But, your success lies beyond these things.

I know you know this, and have probably heard this a thousand times before, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

It might be commonsense, but until it becomes common practice in your life, you will never have the results you desire.

Therefore, take it one day at a time.

According to researchers, a habit takes 66 days on average to form.

Try using that milestone to break bad habits and to beat unhealthy behaviours in your life!

Don’t worry about the two months, just start by conquering every hour of every day.

It all adds up in the end.

Final thoughts

With this formula for success under your belt, you’re equipped with the tools required to conquer your unhealthy, unhelpful habits.

It’s worth doing because the quality of life is better in the long run.

So take a stand and make positive changes today.

It’s within your power to make it happen!

If you have more questions, or comments, please leave them below.

About the author 

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of, a renowned relationship blog that ranked among the top 50 relationship blogs and top 100 marriage blogs in 2021. The blog is dedicated to providing valuable insights on cultivating healthy relationships and love in daily life. Gideon holds a Master's degree in theological studies and transitioned into professional counseling almost a decade ago. In addition, he completed graduate and post-graduate studies in Psychology at Massey University. With over seventeen years of marriage to his wife and two children, Gideon brings both professional and personal experience to his relationship advice. His articles have been featured on respected platforms such as and The Good Men Project.

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