Self / 06.03.2015

How to break bad habits for good

By Blaire Palmer
Are you always late or prone to being a bit of a know-it-all? Change starts with working out your motivators


Most of us are unaware of many of our bad habits, and even those we know about are hard to break. In order to break a habit, you may need to acknowledge the belief behind it. Research by Dr Taibi Kahler in the 1970s identified five ‘value drivers’ which are believed to motivate our behaviour, and may explain why we find certain habits difficult to shake.

These bad habits drivers are:

Hurry Up

The need to go fast, a belief that time is limited
Typical habit: you have a habit of cutting people off mid-sentence. Anything that slows you down causes you frustration.

Be Perfect

The need to get it right, to win, to succeed in everything
Typical habit: Being late! You can’t leave until you – and your home – are pristine.

Be Strong

The need to be invulnerable, to not show your feelings
Typical habit: Assuming you know best. Never allowing yourself not to be in control isn’t an option for you.

Please Others

The belief other people’s happiness is more important than yours
Typical habit: Agreeing with the last person you spoke to. You’re so keen to please, your position in ever-changeable.

Try Hard

The need to always be better, for everyone to know how hard you work
Typical habit: Being a martyr to work but never finishing anything, mainly down to a lack of confidence.

A lot of us will recognise some, if not all, of these in ourselves, and one or two will be particularly predominant. But breaking your habit will be almost impossible unless you do something about your driver first.

Driving school

Identify which two or three drivers are your most predominant. Consider all positives and negatives that may arise from habits and behaviours. Evaluate the impact the positives have on your life. What benefits have they brought you?

Now consider the negatives. What price do you pay for these? You can’t stop being driven by a certain value, but you can learn to manage it, and take control of these habits.

If you’re in a hurry – Invest time in planning trips, work projects or travel meticulously so everything runs as smoothly as possible.

If you’re a perfectionist – Find out what is expected of a particular project so you can plan accordingly. Get feedback as you go.

If you avoid showing your vulnerable side – Spend time with those who really know you so you can practice lowering your guard. Find just one person (at first) to share your feelings with.

If you’re a people-pleaser – Keep count of the number of times you say sorry in a day. Try to halve it. Ask yourself what you’d do if it didn’t matter what people thought.

If you’re a trier – Make sure you finish every project that you start. It will give you the confidence to know you can.

Managing your drivers better will result in a greater awareness of what makes you tick – and your life will be better for it!

How to break bad habits for good
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How to break bad habits for good
Are you always late or prone to being a bit of a know-it-all? Change starts with first working out your bad habits and then your motivators
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