Breaking the Cycle: How to Break Bad Habits and Develop Good Ones

It’s difficult to break bad habits, create good ones. Why? It’s hard, right? You’re learning English. You want good habits. You want to listen to your English lessons every day for an hour, maybe two hours, maybe more. But then you find you don’t. Instead, you play on your phone. You text people, you watch videos, you do all kinds of other bad things.

You know these bad habits are not helping you in life. They won’t get you better jobs, they won’t help you speak English better, they’re not going to help you have a better life. So why do you keep getting stuck in these patterns? Today’s topic is breaking bad habits and building good ones.

Currently, my VIP members are doing a book club and they are reading Atomic Habits. They recommended this book to me.

When people try to break a bad habit or create a good one, they do it the wrong way. Today we’re going to learn a more powerful way.

Atomic Habits

You want to study English every day, exercise every day, eat healthy food.

In the center circle is IDENTITY. Outside that is PROCESSES (systems, habits). And finally in the last circle are OUTCOMES (goals, outcomes).

Let’s talk about identity. What is identity? Identity is who you believe you are, what kind of person you believe you are. You could have a religious identity, for example “I am a Vaishnava”. You can have a runner identity. These aren’t specific outcomes; they are ideas about who you are. That’s identity, right?

Processes are habits, things you do frequently. For example, jogging 30 minutes every day is a habit.

Lastly are the outcomes. Outcomes are specific results. For example: run a 5K race in under 21 minutes.

A lot of people make the mistake of focusing on the outcome first. They begin by setting goals.

The problem is that achieving a goal requires a lot of motivation. And what is the best motivation?

Motivating yourself is when a habit becomes part of your IDENTITY.

If you really feel that you are an English speaker, then that is who you are. You don’t have to force yourself to do it. You want to read, to listen, to speak in English. You don’t have to try to force yourself to do it every day. You’re not trying to run a marathon, you’re trying to become a runner.

The problem is that you may now have a negative identity. For example, you may think that you are a terrible English speaker. “I’m terrible, I’m shy, I don’t like to speak English”. Or “I get bored listening to English”. How do you change that identity? How can you develop a positive one?

The process consists of two steps:

  1. Decide what type of person you want to be
  2. Prove it with a lot of SMALL successes

Just make little small habits so that you’re doing it every day, rather than trying to change your identity all at once.

For instance, instead of saying “I am an English speaker,” you do not have to aim for perfection or fluency. Simply starting with listening can be enough. Consider enrolling in my Effortless English course or joining my VIP program. Spend just one hour each day listening and incorporating English into your daily routine. This could involve wearing headphones while taking a walk outside, without any added stress or pressure to speak flawlessly or spend hours practicing. Initially, you don’t even need to engage in conversation with others. Listening to the mini-stories and challenging commentaries daily can become a simple habit that transforms your identity.

After three months, you may start to feel good and notice a shift in your identity. At that point, consider expanding your habits. For example, listening for two hours every day. Then, as time goes on, add something like having a weekly conversation in English over Skype. You can continue adding more and more habits later on, but it’s important to begin by focusing on your identity and starting with easy habits. If you’re currently struggling with English, simply listening to my mini stories is a great starting point. It’s incredibly easy and will definitely help improve your skills. Plus, it’s something you can easily do right now.

Initially, don’t make a big goal to pass the TOEFL test with a high score. That’s a lot of stress and pressure.

Focus on easy habits first. You’re creating habits that are focused on your identity. You’re not focusing so much on big specific goals. Big specific goals can help later. You shouldn’t worry too much about big specific goals, but they’re not the most important thing.

Make LITTLE habits that are easy to do first. Then change your identity.

As soon as your identity has changed, you can start pursuing your big goals.