15 Proven Strategies For Building And Dropping Habits

Linda ReyesBlogging, Forbes Coaches Counsel

One of the hardest things for many people to do is change their ingrained personal habits. Whether it’s implementing a new, good habit or breaking an old, bad one, it can feel like an impossible task to switch up routines you’ve followed for years.

Fortunately, it’s not impossible to create and drop habits — it just takes a lot of willpower and dedication. We asked members of Forbes Coaches Council to share some smart strategies for establishing or stopping certain behaviors. Their best answers are below.

All images courtesy of Forbes Councils members.

1. Intentionally Repeat The Good Behavior At Least 30 Times

Humans need to have a repetitive event at least 30 times before it becomes a new normal. Take, for example, an executive who speaks without vocal variation, thereby boring their audience. If the executive needs to get into a posture and use gestures to create vocal variation, we advise them to engage that way in informal and formal settings. After about 30 intentional instances, the habit remains. – Helio Fred GarciaLogos Consulting Group

2. Understand The Associated Payoffs

Psychologist Alfred Adler said it beautifully: All behaviors are governed by payoffs. We are pleasant to others, because we receive a payoff. We are nasty to others, because we receive a payoff. So if you want to adopt a good habit or drop a bad one, dig deep, understand the payoffs associated with the habit, then either connect with the payoff, or sever yourself from it. – Gaurav BhallaKnowledge Kinetics

3. Understand Your Own Values

Your choices reveal your priorities, your values. If you are looking to break a bad habit, understand first what is important about that habit to you. Often it is something like comfort — “I choose comfort over discomfort, so I do not exercise.” Replace it with a higher priority value to you — “I choose living to see my grandchildren over comfort, so I choose to exercise.” – Larry BoyerSuccess Rockets LLC

4. Improve Your Environment

A fast way to build good habits is to consciously construct your environment — your home, office, transportation, friend groups, etc. — so your daily choices default to serving you and your long-term goals. Buy fruit. Feng shui your desk. Listen to podcasts. Drop one loser friend. If the things that hold you back aren’t available, you’ll choose options that nourish your body and mind. – Michael S. SeaverSeaver Consulting, LLC

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5. Set The Intention And Schedule Your Habit On Your Calendar

Habits are formed by repeating the same actions over and over again. When deciding to end a bad habit or begin a new one, you must become intentional. To stop any bad habit, you must set the intention to change it and replace the bad habit with a good one. By sticking to a regimented plan, you can form good habits by scheduling a specific task on your calendar to remind you of what to do. – Lori MannsQuality Media Consultant Group

6. Set Up ‘If/Then’ Eventualities

One of the biggest obstacles to habit forming/breaking can be when you slip up or when you’re tempted. So set up possible scenarios in advance so that you take the uncertainty out of the moment. For example: “If I am tempted to eat a piece of cake, then I will drink a glass of water and count to 10.” If you notice and break the impulse right away, chances are you will reduce “breaking” your word. – Rose CartolariRose Cartolari Consulting

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