“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success if found in your daily routine.” ~John C. Maxwell

We all have bad habits. The problem is that many of our habits are so deeply ingrained that we don’t even notice them anymore. If we do, we make excuses to hang onto them.

If you’ve tried to change your habits to no avail, maybe it’s time to try something different. The steps below will help you succeed.

1. Become aware of the status quo.

Does this sound familiar? You set your mind to do something good for yourself. Maybe you tell yourself that you’re going to make better use of your time or lose weight. You’re excited and committed. You set a goal, and you plod ahead.

A few days go by, and you’re doing great. Then something happens to make you fall off the wagon. You feel like a failure. Your goal seems impossible. You go back to your old ways.

This cycle happens over and over again.

Your first mistake is setting a goal without becoming fully aware of your current situation.

You have to define the problem before you can even contemplate a solution.

Instead of jumping straight to change, start by noticing what is going on now. Do this for a week.

Some questions you can answer during your observation include:

  • What is your bad habit?
  • How do you feel when you’re engaging in your bad habit?
  • How do you feel when you’re not doing it?
  • Do you typically do anything before or after the bad habit?
  • Is there a behavior or emotion that brings on the bad habit?
  • Why do you want to break this habit?

It’s not enough to simply read these questions, nodding and telling yourself that you’re going to make an effort to think about them over the next week.

The best way to approach this exercise differently is to take notes. Write in a journal every night, or keep track of the answers to these questions every day on your smartphone. Call a friend to let them know what you observed every day.

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