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Most of the time, bad habits are simply a way of dealing with stress and boredom.
Everything from biting your nails to overspending on a shopping spree to drinking every weekend to wasting time on the internet can be a simple response to stress and boredom.
All of the habits that you have right now — good or bad — are in your life because they provide a benefit to you, even if they are bad for you in other ways.
And because bad habits provide some type of benefit in your life, it's very difficult to simply eliminate them. Instead, you need to replace a bad habit with a new habit that provides a similar benefit.
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Even if you replace a “bad” habit with a better one, sometimes the original vice will have a stronger biological “reward” than its substitute. This is where the importance of having an intrinsic motivation comes into play.
If that is the case, find as many benefits to the change as you can and try to use them as extra motivation.
The more you suppress your thoughts, the more likely you are to think about that thought or even revert back to that bad habit. Instead of trying to stop doing something, it’s easier to do something else.
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Poor sleep means you will start to underperform.
Research says 7-8 hours are pretty much mandatory if you’re going to stay cognitively sharp in the long-run.
Even if it may feel lazy, napping has a range of cognitive benefits.
This is particularly true if you’re doing a lot of learning since the short burst of sleep can help with memory.
Behavior change is hard. Slip-ups are common, so when they happen, don't beat yourself up or retreat into negative self-talk. Instead, anticipate your failures and plan for them.
Make achievable commitments to test new routines and approach it as a series of experiments.
Try your new routine for a while and tweak it or switch to a new one if it doesn’t suit you.
Once you have a clear breakdown of what's happening at each stage of your habit loop, brainstorm healthier routines that will produce the results you want.
Create a list of options of alternatives that might provide comparable reward to the one you are trying to eliminate. Focus on new routines that will help you decompress after a stressful day (the cue) and leave you in a positive frame of mind to get freelance work done (reward).