How can you change a bad habit?

Episode 24 in Part 2 of our Introduction series: Getting to know yourself.

Habits:  Be curious | Growth mindset

Skills:  Habits | Routines

Description:  This episode looks at how you can go about changing a habit you don't want, for a new habit that you'd prefer. We outline Charles Duhigg's approach to your craving, and then explain one method of identifying your cue, craving, routine and reward, to more easily change your existing bad habits.


How this lesson might be applied in the classroom

This episode expands on the last, by completing the structure of The Habit Loop with the introduction of craving. We then take students through the process of how to identify their cue, reward and craving on a given habit, and explain how they can use this information to change any unwanted habit for a good habit.

Questions from today's episode to prompt class discussion include:

  • Do you believe that you are capable of changing a bad habit? Why/Why not?

  • After today's episode, do you feel more confident that you can change one of your bad habits?

  • What do you think might prevent you from being able to change a bad habit?

  • Do you have an idea of a new habit that you'd like to replace your bad habit with?

Some specific discussion points (repeated from previous episode)

Discussion of any literary works, historical figures, or current events featuring prominent individuals offers an opportunity to discuss specific habits that may have lead to good or bad outcomes. For example, basketball star Magic Johnson is said to have had a habit of ending every single practice session by shooting (and making) 100 free throws in a row (if he got to 99 and missed, he'd force himself to start over). Sigmund Freud on the other hand was said to have a cigar-smoking habit that meant he smoked nearly continuously. Even after a reported 33 surgeries on his mouth and jaw to remove the cancer it caused, Freud still couldn’t bring himself to kick the habit.

Some possible questions may include:

  • Think of a friend or family member you know well. Can you think of a good habit that they have?

  • What about a not-so-good habit?

  • In thinking of a successful person you know of, are you aware of a habit they've created to become great? (Like Magic Johnson's free throw shooting?)

  • Can the right habits lead you closer to achieving success? Why/Why not?

  • How can the wrong types of habits take your further away from success?

Discussing the quote from this episode:

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." — Aristotle

Possible areas of discussion may include:

  • Do you think 'we are what we repeatedly do'? Why/Why not?

  • Why do you think Aristotle believed that excellence was a habit, rather than an act?

  • At what point do you think acting becomes a habit – what's the difference between action and a habit?

Further information on this topic

(Repeated from previous episode)

If you'd like to dive a bit deeper on this topic, you might be interested in watching:


Charles Duhigg – The Power of Habit


Or you might like to read:

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change.
by Charles Duhigg, 2012.

Please let us know how we could improve this episode?

We're always keen to hear how our work can be improved. If you can think of anything we can do to improve either the delivery of our content, the content itself, the exercises, or our guides to how the lesson can be applied in the classroom, please let us know.