Whether you snack when you’re stressed out or spend too much time surfing the web, you can change that bad habit in four steps:
1. Replace the old habit with a new one for a 30-day conditioning period.
2. Do your new habit every day.
For example, if your new habit is to rise early and go to the gym, don’t go merely three times per week. The goal is to make the new behavior a habit, which means a daily routine is key. Exercising daily quickly becomes so automatic that you eventually won’t need to do it every day.
3. Replace what you’re missing. If you’re trying to avoid bad snacks when you’re stressed out, replace the pleasure of a bag of chips with another pleasure, such as chatting with a friend.
4. Begin with the start in mind. Big changes are often about the first five minutes of necessary work. So start by committing to only the first step.
Example: If your new habit is to jog or walk, but you have only 15 minutes to do it on a given day, then just do that. Even if your effort is minimal, you’ll still gain the benefit of willpower.
— Adapted from “Fix Bad Habits,” Scott Young, 99%.