When I was younger, I had a bad cigarette addiction. Hell, I’d been smoking before I could even spell ‘cigarette’.
The rest of my life was going great, but smoking was holding me back from reaching my potential–no one enjoys being around that smell. I still remember the dirty looks my coworkers at Verizon would give me when I returned from my daily smoke break.
Eventually, I admitted to myself that I had to quit. After telling myself this hard truth, I started to replace smoking with working out. Every time I wanted a cigarette at night, I’d go for a run instead. And I’d wake up feeling fantastic! That was–of course–until I smoked my first cigarette of the day.
I continued to replace smoking with exercise as much as possible, but I still ‘treated’ myself to cigarettes on weekends. That turned out to be a mistake—I was still stuck in the mindset that cigarettes were a good thing, a literal reward. For a long time, my Sundays were a miserable mess of groggy, smelly, unproductive hangovers.
At the same time, the positive feedback I’d earned from my coworkers was inspiring. They loved that I was cleaning up my act. So I kept going, eventually reducing my cigarette habit to only once a month. In time, even my Sundays became a pleasant part of my week.
As I weaned off the cigarettes, my career took off—not a coincidence! My brain was on fire and I was far more presentable, and I soon earned a spot in management. By replacing a terrible habit with a good one, I brought order to what had been a chaotic life.
How can you do the same? We all have habits that we’d rather get rid of or replace. Figure out your habit cues—what causes you to indulge? Once you’ve identified those, find ways to avoid them or otherwise remove them from your life.
Just as I gradually kicked my smoking habit, you should take quitting your own bad habit one day at a time, bit by bit. Figure out a system that works for you, and implement the necessary steps one cycle at a time. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’ll only get easier from here—trust me.