How to Replace Bad Habits

Over the years I’ve gotten better at embracing good habits to replace bad habits, and many ask, “how do you do that exactly?”  Great question… here is what has worked for me:


Identify a time period that you believe you can “last” while avoiding the old bad habit and replacing it with a new one.


When you’re ready, move on to the next step.


Identify a slightly longer period of time that you believe you can “last” while avoiding the old habit and replacing it with a new one.

For most of us, this is the point where you “fall off the bandwagon”, and revert back to the old habit. Here’s what I have done.

Go back to STEP 1, and start again. Remind yourself, that you're already progressing. One of my biggest challenges has been that:

As I improve, my internal expectations also improve, and because of that what most would call improvement ends looking to me like, well… ehhhh, “I should be doing better.” If you find yourself in this state of mind, “Good for you!” This is a good problem!

So replacing bad habits is simple? Well, yes, and not necessarily easy. In many profound discussions with people close to me, many of whom BOTH succeed at a high level, and struggle on a daily basis, I have found the following to be true.

The will to evolve is preceded by the will to live.

By “live”, I mean really live, as in going for it, leaving it all on the dance floor, etc. Additionally, I have come to understand that…

The will to live is preceded by the will to serve.

I do not mean this in any religious manner of any kind. I simply mean that when we, as individuals and as humanity embrace the notion of serving other people for the reason of feeling the desire to serve, our ability to “live” is greatly enhanced. When I began to serve others, in my case children, teachers and parents, it sometimes came from this place of wanting to serve, but not always. It was a progression which has continued to expand in beautiful ways. Today, I find so much joy in helping others and fostering the growth of others.

Finally, I have found the following to be true as well.

The will to serve is preceded by the will to love. Primarily, love ourselves.

When I was on faculty at the University of Arizona, I was on a doctoral committee for a doctoral music student whom I knew well. At the end of his oral exams, which he was acing, I asked him the question, “Do you think self-love is important?” He began to answer, but was interrupted by one of the most arrogant, self-serving and rude outbursts by a senior colleague of mine and another professor. They felt the question had no place in this setting. However, the doctoral student, who passed with flying colors, spoke up and said, “I think it is relevant and I want to address the question.” Michael said, “I think self-love is important because in recognizing love for self, we can help others recognize it in themselves.” The meeting ended, and I was verbally attacked in the hallway.

To this day, that is a day I am very proud of. Was I saying that someone has to love themselves to be “successful?” Of course not. Was I stating that one has to love themselves to live a significant life? Not at all. I asked a simple question related to “Is love of self important?”

When you encounter adversity in your life, know that you are encountering fear in someone else. Fear of what? It varies wildly. Do not embrace the fear or negativity. It is not yours, it is of their own doing and choosing.

So…., if you REALLY want to replace bad habits, this is what you need to remember and practice as a way of living.

Love Yourself, Serve Others, Live Fully… and you will by default…




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