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Habit Tracker Printable: How to Easily Rid Yourself of Bad Habits


How Habits are Formed and How to Change Them

Habits are behaviors that we repeat regularly without thinking much about them.

They are an essential part of our lives as they help us conserve mental energy and automate routine tasks.

However, not all habits are good for us.

Some habits can have negative consequences, like smoking, overeating, or procrastination, while others can be positive, such as exercising, reading, or meditating.

Habits are formed in the subconscious mind, which is responsible for 95% of our thoughts and actions.

The subconscious mind is like a computer that stores all our experiences, beliefs, values, and memories. It operates automatically and outside our conscious awareness, which means we are not always aware of why we do what we do.

The process of habit formation begins with a cue, a trigger that signals the subconscious mind to initiate a behavior. The cue can be anything that activates an automatic response, like a sound, a smell, a location, a time of day, or an emotion. For example, the smell of coffee can trigger the habit of drinking coffee, or the sound of an alarm can trigger the habit of waking up.

Once the subconscious mind receives the cue, it searches for a relevant behavior to execute based on past experiences and associations.

If the behavior was rewarding or satisfying, the subconscious mind strengthens the neural pathways that support it and makes it more likely to recur in the future.

Over time, the behavior becomes a habit, and the subconscious mind initiates it automatically without the need for conscious thought or decision-making.

The key to changing a habit is to interrupt the automatic loop between the cue and the behavior and replace the behavior with a new one that serves our goals and values.

This process requires conscious effort and repetition until the new behavior becomes automatic and overrides the old one.

Using a daily habit tracker is one great way to help interrupt that loop.


Reasons We Take Up Bad Habits

It’s common for most of us to develop a few bad habits along the way – whether it’s procrastination, unhealthy eating, or neglecting self-care.

In your quest for self-improvement, know that discovering and understanding the underlying reasons for developing these habits is the first step toward making positive changes.

What are some Common Reasons for developing Bad Habits?

There are many triggers for us to develop bad habits, but the following are the most common.

Boredom: When bored, turning to unhealthy habits to pass the time or find entertainment is not unusual. To overcome boredom-related bad habits, it’s important to find activities that are engaging and meaningful to you. Examples are taking up a new hobby, volunteering, or pursuing personal growth opportunities.

Stress: Stress is a common trigger for bad habits such as overeating, smoking, or procrastination. To overcome stress-related bad habits, the answer is to find healthy ways to manage stress such as exercise, meditation, or talking to someone you trust or a therapist.

Need for validation: Sometimes, people use bad habits to seek validation or attention from others. To overcome this bad habit, you need to focus on your self-worth rather than seeking it from others. This might involve setting goals that align with your values, practicing self-compassion, or seeking support from friends and family.

Learned behaviors: Seeing family members or other role models engaging in bad habits can lead to imitation to fit in or feel accepted. When children see adults or peers engaging in certain behaviors, it makes it much more likely that they will imitate them.

Difficulty with self-regulation: People often turn to bad habits to cope with negative emotions or to avoid facing challenges. To overcome this bad habit, it’s important to work on self-regulation skills such as managing emotions, setting boundaries, and seeking support when needed.

Lack of structure: When you don’t have a clear sense of purpose or structure, you might turn to unhealthy habits to fill the void. To overcome this bad habit, you need to create a sense of structure and purpose in your life, such as setting goals, creating a schedule, or finding activities that bring meaning and fulfillment.

Bad habits are ultimately due to a lack of self-awareness and/or self-control.


Why Are Bad Habits Hard to Break?

As discussed above habits are primarily formed in the subconscious mind but let’s explore a few reasons why bad habits are so stubborn and what you can do to overcome them.


Your Life Is Out of Alignment

Bad habits often arise when something in your life is out of balance.

Maybe you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, or perhaps you’re not getting enough sleep or exercise. Whatever the case, when something in your life is off kilter, it can be hard to break a bad habit.

What’s out of alignment? Here are some common examples and what to do to fix them:

  • Sleep/energy levels – Make sure to get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and eat a balanced diet.
  • Stress/anxiety – Engage in stress-relieving activities such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.
  • Time management – Create a daily routine and schedule tasks to maximize productivity.
  • Finances – Develop a budget plan and stick with it.
  • Relationships – Spend quality time with family and friends.
  • Work/life balance – Set boundaries between work and leisure activities so that you can rest and relax during off-hours.


It’s important to identify what might be out of alignment and work to fix it.

To determine what is out of alignment in your life you may need to practice mindfulness by keeping a journal or using a daily habit tracker to help you figure out what’s not right for you.

For example, if you have low energy, is it due to your diet, sedentary lifestyle, stress, or anxiety, or is your time management needing some work? This requires brutal honesty about what you may be doing to cause this misalignment.


You Don’t Understand Why You Are Doing It

Sometimes, people engage in bad habits without really understanding why.

Maybe you’re doing it out of boredom, to cope with negative emotions, or simply because it’s a habit you’ve always had.

It is difficult to address the issue without understanding the root cause of your bad habits so that you can make lasting changes.

Practicing these few steps that will allow you to get to the root cause of a bad habit:

  1. Identify the habit – Take the time to observe the bad habit so you can determine what exactly the bad habit is.
  2. Track your behavior – Take notes when the habit occurs.
  3. Ask yourself hard questions – Ask yourself why. Write down the situation or emotions you experience that trigger the habit. Asking yourself these hard questions will help to identify and understand any underlying causes and especially the payoff you get from performing the bad habit.
  4. Take action


You Only Focusing On the Goal, Which Overwhelms You

Breaking a bad habit is sometimes overwhelming. This is especially true if you’re focusing on the end goal rather than the steps it takes to get there.

So instead of trying to quit a habit cold turkey, it is often more effective to focus on small, achievable steps.

For example, if you’re trying to stop procrastinating, try setting a goal to work on a task for just 15 minutes each day.

You’ll be more prone to sticking to your new habit and making lasting changes by taking small steps that accumulate over time.


Does Replacing Bad Habits with Good Habits Work?

Bad habits are a frustrating and persistent part of life. They can hold you back from reaching your goals and lead to negative consequences in your personal and professional life.

Many people try to replace bad habits with good habits as a solution, but does this approach work?

First, let’s explore the importance of addressing the root cause of the bad habit.


The Importance of Finding the Root Cause

One factor in the success of replacing bad habits with good habits is understanding what is driving the bad habit.

Whether or not you’re aware of it, bad habits often serve a specific purpose or fulfill a need.

The idea is that the bad habit is performed to relieve stress, boredom, or anxiety (or whatever your issue is). But it’s a problem because the bad habit tends to make the original problem worse, so you might focus on the bad habit and just stop it without understanding the root cause.

If you do this, it may cause you to implement the wrong good habit to replace the bad habit, making it seem like replacing bad habits does not work.

The problem is that if you don’t address the underlying issue causing the bad habit, you will continue to have the trigger for the habit. Due to this, you may struggle to maintain the good habit because it’s not fulfilling the original need that the bad habit alleviates.

To uncover what is causing your bad habit, ask yourself some questions:

What need or desire is the bad habit fulfilling?
• What emotions or feelings do I experience before, during, and after the bad habit?
• What situations or environments trigger the bad habit?
• What are the consequences or costs of the bad habit?

Answering these questions offers insight into the root cause of your bad habit and helps you identify potential solutions.



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Strategies to Identify and Resolve the Bad Habit

You can use several strategies to determine the root cause of your bad habit and find a solution. Let’s look at a few of them:

Keep a journal and use a daily tracker: Write down your thoughts, feelings, and actions surrounding the bad habit. This can help you identify patterns and triggers for the habit.

Seek support: Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist about your bad habit and the challenges you are facing. They may be able to offer insights and suggestions for addressing the root cause of the habit.

Experiment with different strategies: Try different approaches to addressing the bad habit and see what works best for you. This could be taking up a new hobby to relieve stress instead of smoking or finding a healthy way to cope with boredom such as taking a walk or reading a book.

Replacing bad habits with good ones is challenging.

But breaking free from negative patterns and creating lasting change in your life is possible. Having said that, you must understand the root cause of your bad habit and find effective strategies to address it. Doing so will set you up for success in adopting healthy, positive habits to replace bad ones.


Breaking Bad Habits: Planning for Setbacks

Breaking bad habits can be a challenging and frustrating process and it can be easy to fall off the wagon and revert to old habits.

But it’s vital to remember that setbacks are a normal part of the process and can be an opportunity for growth and improvement.

Use these steps to plan for setbacks and get back on track.

  • Forgive Yourself

It’s important to be kind to yourself when you experience a setback. Don’t beat yourself up or dwell on the mistake. Rather, recognize that it’s a normal part of the process and move on.

  • Take a Break

Sometimes a setback happens just because you’re overworking yourself. Often you can put things right by going for a walk, or working on something else and coming back to the issue with a clear mind. Planning for frequent breaks will help you minimize the number of setbacks you experience.

  • Evaluate What Happened

Take some time to reflect on what led to the setback. For example, did you have a particularly stressful day that made it harder to stick to your habits? Did you get caught up in a social situation that made it difficult to resist temptation? Understanding the root cause and triggers surrounding the setback will help you develop strategies to prevent it from happening again.

  • Set Specific and Achievable Goals

Clear goals keep you focused and motivated as you overcome setbacks. Be sure to set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). 

  • Be Flexible and Adaptable

Setbacks are a normal part of life therefore it’s important to be flexible and adaptable when they arise. If something isn’t working, be willing to adjust your plan and try something new.

  • Find Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Stress majorly contributes to setbacks, so it’s imperative to find healthy ways to manage it. Choose healthy options that are proven to work, like exercise, meditation, or talking to a therapist.

  • Restart

Don’t let a setback discourage or derail your progress entirely. Instead, use it as an opportunity to start fresh. Set a new goal and make a plan to achieve it. Don’t worry about how long it will take – just focus on taking small steps in the right direction.

  • Ask for help

It is helpful to have someone to talk to when trying to break a bad habit. A friend or family member who is supportive and understanding can encourage and help you stay motivated. You can also consider joining a support group or working with a coach or therapist to help you overcome your challenges.

  • Stay Positive

Getting discouraged during a setback is common, but staying positive and focusing on your progress is important. Remember that change takes time, and it’s okay to have setbacks along the way.

Planning for setbacks is an important part of breaking bad habits. 

So don’t get discouraged – keep moving forward, and you’ll live a better life through positive habits sooner than you think.


Using Habit Trackers to Start A New Habit

Daily tracking sheets don’t just have to be used when you are trying to rid yourself of a bad habit. They are just as beneficial for any new habit you want to instill into your life. It’s a great way to remind yourself to stick to your new goals and program yourself to get used to including your new healthy habit in your daily life.

The list for using these success trackers is endless: drinking 8 glasses of water a day, reading 20 minutes a day, and meditating 20 minutes a day are a few examples.

Most importantly have fun incorporating a new healthy habit into your life – this way you will ensure your success.


In Summary

Habits are powerful drivers of behavior that are formed in the subconscious mind. By understanding the mechanics of habit formation, we can learn how to create positive habits that support our well-being and happiness and break negative habits that hold us back.

People often form bad habits to cope with difficult emotions, stress, or boredom.

However, if a person is not aware of the habit, it will become a pattern that can be difficult to break.

However, by understanding the root cause of your habit, focusing on small, achievable steps, identifying what might be out of alignment in your life, and working to correct the issues, you are sure to overcome them and create lasting change.

Remember to be patient with yourself, and don’t get discouraged if you encounter setbacks.

With persistence and commitment, you can overcome your bad habits, instill new healthy habits and achieve your goals.


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Habit Tracker Printable: How to Easily Rid Yourself of Bad Habits