The #1 Question to Ask Yourself About Your Bad Habit

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Our habitual actions make us who we are. That being the case, in order to make a significant change, habits that are leading to unwanted results often become our target. Whether you want to lose weight, improve your financial situation, deal more effectively with stress, or drop a habit that’s having a negative effect on you, a single question can begin the process.

Embrace it to let it go

Habits have power. But often, in efforts to drop an unwanted habit, their true power is overlooked. It may be easy to think that a habit is hard to change simply because it’s been practiced for so long. However, that is not the whole story.

There is reason why the habit was picked up in the first place. And there’s a powerful reason why you continue to go back to it. It’s the collateral damage from the habitual practice that may now have you desperate to change the behavior altogether.

In order to best begin the process of letting a bad habit go, we first need to embrace the benefits that it gives us. After all, at its core, the habit you want to edit isn’t all “bad.” In fact, in order to drop it, you need to understand what good things it’s doing for you.

Ask this question

With the foregoing in mind, there is one powerful question that can ignite the process of dropping a habit. With the habit that you want to change in mind, ask:

What is this habit doing for me that’s good?”

Write down some of your responses to this question. For these moments, totally set aside any thoughts about the negative collateral damage the habit brings, and focus solely on the good that your mind and body want to deliver to you through the pursuit of this action. Some “good” things that habits bring are peace, comfort, love, safety.

Next steps

Understanding that your “bad” habit is really, at its core, good for you, creates opportunities for new pathways to be constructed within your brain, and new insights to be born. What you do with these insights in order to adjust your behavior is totally up to you.

An obvious approach that many take from here is to find some alternate action that can deliver a similar outcome as the original habit, but without the undesirable collateral results. An even better approach is to explore ways to “step into” the desired state without depending on a habitual action to initiate the outcome. Through working with a coach, many have picked up this skill and have successfully dropped their unwanted habits.


Do you need some extra motivation to change a habit? Would you like to provide your clients with a structured program to help them stay motivated outside of their sessions with you? Try Exercising Backwards.

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