What to Do when I Catch Myself Slipping into Old Bad Habits?

Congrats. Catching yourself is 80% of the job.

Michał Stawicki
6 min readNov 10, 2017


Most people most of the time don’t notice slipping into old bad habits. If they realize it at all, it happens when they are knee-deep in s**t, and they frantically attempt to get themselves out of the situation.

OK, there are several things you can do, and you should do them more or less in this order:

1. Analyze.

What the heck happened? Why have you landed in this oh-so-familiar-yet-undesirable state? What went wrong?

There are many possible causes, and you should go over them:

-your willpower or energy level were low;

-the old cue triggered the old behavior on autopilot;

-you very deliberately sank into the old habit, because you craved the reward so much;

-you didn’t consciously focus on your new routine, so the old one sneaked upon you.

And so on.

2. Track and Measure.

If you don’t already have any kind of tracking tool for your habit(s), devise a tracking strategy for this specific behavior. That way, you will notice slipping into a bad habit faster, and you can counterattack faster as well.

Depending which one is the case — developing a better habit or breaking an old one — you may use totally different tools.

All kinds of journals and logs work well for both cases, but they are better for getting rid of habits. Journaling focuses your attention on the bad habit, and it’s the lack of attention and automatic mindless behaviors that lead you into troubles most of the time.

3. Avoid Old Triggers.

I was so proud of myself that I quit on reading fiction in excess and playing computer games. I was an addict of both, but gaming was especially harmful. I even played at the office!

Of course, when pride appears, most of the time it is false. Only after a few years and gaining a ton of knowledge about habits did I realize that I simply avoided my old triggers. I didn’t do anything else. My trigger for both of…



Michał Stawicki

Authorpreneur. Progress fanatic. I help people change their lives… even if they don’t believe they can. I blog on http://ExpandBeyondYourself.com/