Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Overcoming Your Comfort Zone: A Beginner’s Guide to Breaking Bad Habits

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

At this point we all know of the cliché New Year’s resolution of “new year, new me,” and what a complete lie it is 99 percent of the time. Still, most people have this New Year’s goal of being better than they were last year, be that getting better grades or being bold enough to tell your hairdresser you want a new style. I cut 12 inches off of my hair in pursuit of this “new me” aspiration, meaning I have no room to judge. Here’s a beginner’s guide to breaking bad habits.

Bad Habits = Self-Sabotage

Everyone has a wish to be better than they were last year, but most New Year’s resolutions die the week after school starts back up. This is because humans are creatures of habit. When stressed, most people revert to something habitual they can fall back on. This is how bad habits form.

Sometimes comfort in habit is a nice and needed break from daily stressors, but if said habit has negative side effects, it can lead you into a social downward spiral, shrinking your comfort zone and limiting your potential growth. Some well-known habits of college students are procrastination, perfectionism, sleep deprivation, unhealthy eating, self-isolation, and negative self-talk. These are habits you can trick yourself into recognizing as normal and not notice the negative effects they’re having on you.

Overcoming Bad Habits is A 4-step Process

The key to breaking these bad habits is to recognize and challenge them. The phrase “new year new me” implies a rapid change of character, and this is why it fails. Bad habits take time to break and require you to be patient and kind to yourself as you go through your journey. Once you recognize what habits are holding you back, you can start to fight back against them. This process involves reflecting on how you got these habits and then working on actively replacing them with healthier ones. Once you identify the habits holding you back, you can begin your growth process.

The steps I found to be most effective were identification, manageable goal setting, building bigger, and accepting.

Step 1: identification

First, you must identify why you have this habit and what triggers it. For me, I struggled my first semester with self-isolation. I was so afraid of failing at interaction by saying or doing the wrong thing around people and getting judged for it that I ended up avoiding everyone I could’ve become friends with.

Step 2: manageable goal setting

You must figure out the best course of action to divert this habit. I found that setting small goals for myself was the most effective way to divert my negative habits. Instead of forcing yourself into a situation that may cause you more stress and setting yourself up to revert to your bad habits, try to K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Sweetie). Start by setting yourself small daily goals. These goals may not look or feel like much, but the consistency in achieving this goal will make the task of breaking the negative habit less daunting. Not to mention, it always feels good to give yourself a pat on the back as you check off another thing on the to-do list.

It may sound weird, but to deal with my self-isolation caused by social anxiety, I set the goal of talking to at least one other person a day. I found it useful to leave a sticky note on my desk with “Goal: Talk to someone” written on it as a reminder for myself. I always get such satisfaction after checking off the sticky note. It may seem small, but those tiny interactions are a huge part of the reason I’m comfortable with more people now.

Step 3: building bigger

The next step to overcoming a bad habit is building bigger goals to achieve. For me, this was joining the rugby team. If you want to get out of your shell, I suggest giving a club or an intramural team sport a try. I’ve always loved the camaraderie in team sports and find it a great way to get active, but I won’t say I wasn’t scared. I didn’t know if I’d be a good fit and had never played before. This was the moment of truth, the crossroads. When you pursue a bigger goal, there will always be an option to turn back and lean on your bad habits.

Temptation is promising, and I can’t say I wasn’t nervous before my first practice. I even had a nightmare the night before that I got to the field and fell flat on my face. I was nervous, but I knew I wanted to be better. I was done with always eating alone in the dining halls and watching everyone else go to hang out with friends while I was alone in my dorm. Luckily for me, everything worked out. I got to the practice and everyone talked to me and was extremely nice to the newbies. I even got invited to go to dinner with a few of the girls after practice! Now, I’m continuing to build on my self-confidence journey by setting new even bigger goals. The road to self-betterment never really ends.

Step 4: accepting

Lastly, the goal of keeping bad habits away is self-acceptance. Sometimes you’re going to have a bad day. You might even get back into your old habit, but don’t let this defeat you. Some days my social battery is at five percent and fading rapidly, causing me to close back into myself. In those moments you just have to remember that betterment and growth are a journey, not a destination. Just because today didn’t go as planned doesn’t mean tomorrow can’t be great. The objective is to persist and fight bad habits by replacing them with better behaviors.

The phrase “new year new me” may be a stretch, but in the New Year you can always work on helping yourself become a better you by overcoming bad habits.

Want to see more HCFSU? Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Pinterest!

Danielle Triola is a first-year student at Florida State University and a dedicated Staff Writer at Her Campus. She writes bi-weekly articles about lifestyle, culture, and life on campus. Danielle’s journalism stems from a love of knowledge and keeping up to date on her variety of interests, from the latest in politics to the newest in pop culture. She loves diving headfirst into different stories and new adventures. Outside of Her Campus, Danielle is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in International Affairs, while planning to minor in Political Science and French. Danielle loves volunteering and being an active member of campus life. She is also a member of many clubs around campus including the Equestrian and Rugby teams. Danielle is a dedicated believer in the benefits of exercise on your mental and physical well-being. Whenever she gets free time, Danielle enjoys going to the gym, paddle boarding, and reading a good book. Danielle appreciates enjoying the nature outside of campus by going hiking or going to the barn. She enjoys any opportunity to be with animals and loves taking cute photos of them. She is also an avid enjoyer of cheesy rom-com movie nights and spending time with friends.