Bad habits suck, and so does the notion of willpower. I have absolutely no self-control when it comes to food. Ergo, I keep on hand only that food that will enable the goal of health and weight loss. If I want something else, I have to go out of the house to get it. By the time I figure out that I have to change my clothes, put on shoes, and drive somewhere, I’ve changed my mind and the Cheetos whim has flown the coop.
We are not necessarily lazy, although many of us are, and our brains like habit and routine. We are subjected to thousands of details every day, so our brains like to go on autopilot for other things. If you had to be totally in the moment for every thing you did every day, you’d probably go insane. Breaking bad habits is not just a matter of willpower then, but also a question of finding the rewards in the good habits that outweigh the rewards of the bad habits.
You love the hit of nicotine in the cigarettes you smoke, and you like getting up and going somewhere besides your usual work spot to smoke them. To break the habit of smoking while at work, besides the obvious help of regulations and laws against smoking, you either have to find a negative reward or a positive one. A negative one is offending co-workers with the smell of cigarettes hanging on your hair, clothes, and breath. A positive one may be that you are enjoying a smokeless break while talking to a cute co-worker.
Sometimes, all it takes to reinforce a good habit such as exercising, is a visualization. It may be a pain to show up for a yoga class after work, and all that it entails; changing clothes, being sweaty, etc. But you love the endorphins and the feeling of accomplishment showing up and doing the work gives you. To reinforce the impulse until it is a habit, visualize the good feelings you get, and maybe the reward of a frozen yogurt afterward. To further reinforce it, make an appointment with someone to take the class together. You will be less likely to not show up. Wear your exercise clothing if possible, under your work clothes to make it easier on yourself, and throw your mat and water in the trunk so you’re prepared for class.
Establishing good habits may require being scared or in pain. I finally made the iron-clad commitment to weight loss in order to eradicate back pain. It’s working, too. I’m not used to being inactive and feeling frustrated. I don’t like it. If bad habits are easy to keep doing, give good habits the same advantage.