Changing Habits General Growth

The Bipolar Guide on How to Break Your Bad Habits

It’s your bad habits that get in the way of your success. For example, you’ll know you have an assignment due, but you choose to go out with friends or continually take smoking breaks throughout the day. This slows down your momentum, and you lose focus on your end goal, not completing what you set out to do. Think about the amount of times you’ve created a list of daily goals and many of them were marked incomplete because you decided to hang with friends, watch TV, or procrastinate by doing a less important task. Napoleon Hill said it best –

“Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.” –

I think managing bipolar has a lot to do with conquering your goals because each one you complete serves as motivation and progress forward. It also gives you a feeling of accomplishment, success, and self-worth, all of which is important when beating depression.

Bad habits have restricted my growth and slowed down my progress enormously. Do you feel the same way? But, know that you have the power to change anything you want in life if you admit the challenge and want to consciously make a change. Here are 4 steps you can take to break those bad habits. These steps can be found in the book – The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.

1) Admit the Challenge

It’s only when you know you have a bad habit and become aware of it that you’re able to take a positive step towards defeating it. It’s hard to defeat something that you feel doesn’t exist…right? You should ask yourself – is there anything that is limiting my growth?

The thing with bad habits is they often leave a pattern throughout the years, so all you need to do is think about the behaviors which have held you back. For example, in my case, I have a habit of procrastination and getting involved in something less important that I need to work on. I also have a habit of losing focus quickly, and then taking long breaks that force me to lose momentum.

Once you’ve admitted the challenge, and admit that you have to break that bad habit, you can understand how the bad habit works.

2) Understanding How Habits Work

In the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, he talks about a trigger, the behavior, and the reward. By dissecting how a habit works, you’ll be able to see how it has three important components:

  1. The Trigger – This is brought on by our senses (i.e. sight, hearing, smelling, touching, and taste). However, most of the time, it will be something you see or hear. For example, smokers often want to have a cigarette when they see someone else smoking. The same applies to you: You often want to leave your work and head outside after you hear or see your friends getting together.
  1. The Behavior – This is defined by your reaction to the trigger. For example, when you see someone smoking, you get up and leave to have a cigarette. Behavior equals what the trigger causes you to do.
  1. The Reward – Many bad habits are built on the following foundation: people want to achieve short-term pleasure so they want to receive instant gratification even though it will keep them from long-term pleasure. For example, people know smoking is a bad thing, causing them serious health issues in the future, but the instant gratification received from having a cigarette is more important to them.

Anthony Robbins even discusses this concept in his book, Awaken the Giant Within.

Since we all want instant gratification right away, we experience the reward as soon as we see the trigger.

Johns Hopkins University neuroscientists demonstrate for the first time that when people see something associated with a past reward, their brain flushes with dopamine—even if they aren’t expecting a reward and even if they don’t realize they’re paying it any attention. The results suggest we don’t have as much self-control as we might think.”-

3) State and Replace What Your Expect

The first two steps helped you admit to the challenge and understand how habits work. It’s time to break the bad habit(s) by identifying what you want instead. For example,

  • I want to stop eating junk food.
  • I want to stop smoking.
  • I want to lose weight.
  • I want to stop procrastinating.

This does have to be a tough process Charles Duhigg states in his book The Power of Habit. He explains that you only have to change one key step – The behavior. As mentioned before, when people want to stop smoking and start eating healthier, Charles Duhigg says all they need to do is get into the habit of exercising. People often smoke as a way of reducing stress, even though, it’s been proven that nicotine increases anxiety and stress.

Exercise will help reduce stress naturally and  help reduce cravings for junk food because after working out people want to eat healthier. Psychologically, they don’t want to ruin the good feeling felt after a long workout by piling up on loads of unhealthy calories.

The point is to find something you can do to change your focus to something different and better. Change the usual behavior whenever you feel the trigger.


Visualize scenarios that give you the same feeling as smoking a cigarette. For example, how does drinking flavored water or exercising make you feel? Do you get the same reward as if you had lit up a cigarette? Create a list of positive alternatives that give you the same rewarding feeling as the bad habit.

4) Track Your Progress (or Pattern)

Any type of change is hard in the beginning. And it takes 21 days to form a new habit. But, it’s important to notice the pattern over the next couple of weeks, and how it’s improving your life. If you’ve noticed positive growth in your life, helping you get more done, then you know the change was for the best. However, if you notice that the new habit continues to restrict your process, then you need to make adjustments. Remember, in step one you admitted to the challenge, and how the current bad habit has restricted aspects of your life. You know what changes you are expecting to see, so it’s not difficult to understand how the alternative behavior will affect your life.

Best of all, there are so many cool mobile applications available to help track your progress. Here are a few I’ve tried that work well. (I’m personally using HabitBull.):

Productive habits & daily goals tracker

Momentum Habit Tracker – Routines, Goals & Rituals

Final Thoughts

I’ve noticed much of the progress in my life has been restricted because of my bad habits. I know how good habits are a form of motivation and increase pleasure because it feels awesome knowing you completed your daily goals. This is why I recommend you think about what habits are holding you back, and take decisive action in changing them.

Additional Resources:

All It Takes Is “1” Change (Power of Habit)

Question: What bad habits do you have? Do your bad habits hold you back? 

feature photo credit:

Helping others beat bipolar disorder. After living with Bipolar for over 16 years, I have self-educated myself to come up with creative ways to live a normal productive life. It`s time to give back by helping others transform!