283 Bad Habits (The ULTIMATE List of Bad Habits)
What makes something a bad habit?
Well, I feel bad habits have to fit a number of specific requirements:
- They are repetitive negative behavior patterns.
- They can be stopped with motivation and will power (unlike a mental condition like Tourrettes).
- Society takes a dim view of them.
- The habits break customs, laws, or mores.
- Many people find the habit annoying, repulsive, or something to be avoided.
- The habit could negatively affect your health or wellness.
- The habit keeps someone from being their best.
There is some wiggle room in what is (or isn’t) a bad habit.
For instance, a vegan may view eating non-plant-based food to be a bad habit. They can cite many health reasons why meat is bad, and they can tell you that it is not moral to kill animals.
For a vegan, eating a grilled chicken is a bad habit—but for me, it isn’t.
In the following list of 283 bad habits, I tried to find every bad habit that the majority of society would view as a bad habit. Perhaps 20 years in the future some of these bad habits may seem old fashioned, like showing your ankles in the Victorian Age.
Some practices that didn’t make the list of bad habits, like eating healthier meats, may not have quite enough people who feel that way to make the list.
Bad habits are ultimately decided by a consensus of society, and the views of society change with time.
You have before you what I believe is the ultimate list of bad habits—283 negative actions that you should consider ceasing if you want to live a life of meaning and stay healthy.
If you feel that important bad habits have been left off the list, please leave a comment in the bottom and I will consider adding more to this list.
Let’s get to it.
Top 10 Habits That Offend Others
I’ll admit it: I could easily name this section “habits that annoy me.” We all have annoying habits we see in other people that particularly bother us.
Since this is my blog, we will start off with my top 10 offensive bad habits. But if you feeling like sharing ones that tick you off, then feel free to add them in the comment section and I’ll grow this section to accommodate those bad habits that YOU hate.
Bad Habits That Waste Your Time
Like many people, I freely admit to sometimes falling into the trap of these time-wasting bad habits. Spending an hour on a video game or Facebook, or watching a show on Netflix may decrease your productivity, but if it is a source of enjoyment, it is okay sometimes.
The problem with many of these mindless activities is that they are mindless. They waste our time, we lose our sense of time, and we often spend a lot longer on these activities than we realize. The worst part about it is that they can be so mindless that sometimes we do not really get enjoyment from them. They are just wasted time.
So I have nothing against spending an hour on a video game or Facebook, but it’s important to realize the impact on your overall productivity and keep the amount of time spent on these activities to an “acceptable” amount.
Bad Habits That Impact Your Health
There are lots of things that are bad for our health. Driving fast, sky diving, skiing; anything with a decent amount of “risk” involved is bad for our health on some level.
However, most of these endeavors do not meet the criteria for being a “bad habit.” They are just fun activities that have an element of risk involved.
Bad health habits are things that put our lives or wellness at risk with zero upside.
Take the water drinking habit as an example. Most people spend the majority of their lives dehydrated without even realizing it. Being marginally dehydrated for an hour will have no real side effects, but over time, it can add to a slew of potential bad health effects.
The worst thing about many of these bad health habits is that the cures are simple. Getting rid of these bad habits are tiny lifestyle changes that should never be difficult to implement.
Of a bit more difficulty are the “bad eating habits” listed below. Those habits also fall under the umbrella of “bad for your health,” but there are enough of them that they deserve their own topic.
(If you’d like to learn how to improve your health habits, then I recommend reading the post where 44 experts share their favorite daily health habits).
Bad Habits Related to Diet and Nutrition
“You are what you eat!”
While that statement may be a bit trite and overused, it does have a ring of truth to it.
If you eat a lot of “comfort foods,” you will likely end up nice and comfortable, with extra padding around the middle, lounging around all day nice and lethargic.
On the other hand, while cruciferous vegetables may never make your mouth water, they do a heck of a lot to give you energy and increase your health.
The bad eating habits listed below run the gamut, from simply eating too much to emotional eating, where it is difficult to sense how much food you really consume (and you don’t care how bad it is for you).
Now let me be clear: I am by no means saying that you can NEVER partake in any of these bad eating habits. That would make for a fairly dull diet.
But all of these bad habits are a slippery slope.
It is easy to say, “One piece of chocolate today won’t kill me,” because it won’t. But then you start to have chocolate every day. Then the pieces get bigger and bigger, and soon enough you have a chocolate problem.
Next thing you know you are dealing with some shady chocolate dealer on a street corner trying to get your fix of the latest Godiva chocolagte.
The secret to all of these bad habits is to partake in them infrequently. If you find you partake in any of these bad eating habits more than three times a week, you may want to consider taking steps to eliminate this bad habit…or at go 30 days without it and see how you feel.
Poor Productivity Habits
I love my personal time. I would rather be spending time reading or going for a walk with family than working. But I have a lot of work to do. Due to this, I find productivity to be essential.
Being productive means focus. It means being methodical and having a plan for what you need done. It means avoiding the 20 bad productivity habits below, at all costs. These 20 items are just some of the killers of good time management. Change these bad habits, and you will be pretty far down the path to greater efficiency and productivity.
If you’d like to improve your time management skills, then I’d recommend the post “15 Smart Productivity Hacks.”
Bad Money Habits That Hurt Your Financial Situation
Money may not buy happiness, but it makes us a lot more comfortable, whether we are happy or not.
Seriously though, studies have shown that happiness actually IS affected by money up to a point—that point basically being where you are able to stop “struggling” to meet financial and day-to-day commitments. (Find out why here.)
Whether you are struggling for every dollar or have enough money that huge tax bills are a serious issue, being wasteful with your money is a shame. Most people work pretty hard for the money they get, and deserve to keep as much of it as possible. Losing money due to bad money habits is something to be avoided.
The following are habits that not only waste your money, but also prevent you from climbing out of any financial pit that you might find yourself in:
Negative Habits that Increase Your Monthly Bills
In this section, I’ll cover money habits that can easily be improved by making a few small tweaks to your daily routine.
Any one of these bad habits, done one time, will have very little impact—but if you are habitual in many of these bad habits, they will “tax” your income a little bit at a time, every single day, until they have a significant impact your wages.
Let’s look at the habit of leaving a light on when you leave the room. Leaving a light on for 10 minutes while leaving a room may only cost you a penny or two.
But this is a habit that may be repeated many times in a day, in many different rooms of your home or apartment, potentially costing as much as two dollars a day. Thus, turning lights off could potentially add up to $600 extra after a year. Who wouldn’t enjoy an extra $600 at the end of the year?
These bad habits are far from “cardinal sins.” I am sure most of us have done these from time to time. But the simplicity of making a “routine” out of these bad habits make this money we just waste for lack of a very minimal amount of effort and training.
Nervous Habits That Negatively Impact Your Social Interactions
Nervous habits are actually very difficult habits to break. They are usually ingrained in our psyche. Many times, we do not even realize we are doing these bad habits until other people let us know.
Therefore, the first step in breaking these bad habits is to recognize that they exist. Be mindful of the things you do, and make conscious decisions to stop the nervous habits. This will not rid you of the bad nervous habit completely, but is an important first step.
Many of these bad nervous habits are caused (or exacerbated) by stress, so sometimes the best method of dealing with these bad habits is by dealing with the underlying stress that causes them.
Personal Bad Habits
Personal bad habits are a catch-all term I use for the miscellaneous things that many of use do. Some of these bad habits are bad because they go against the grain of what society expects from us (breaking promises, being consistently late, sleeping in late). Others are here because they could potentially be detrimental to us in time (slouching while sitting, leaving keys in random places, staying up late).
As always, what makes most of these habits “bad” is the frequency with which these events happen. Sleeping in on two Saturdays a month is no big deal, and could actually be a very nice break in your routine. But sleeping in three days a week and missing morning appointments or work due to this could be a huge problem.
Poor Fitness Habits
Fitness habits are also tightly linked to healthy habits. Staying fit will help you live a healthier and longer life.
Bad fitness habits fall into two different categories. The first set is for people who never (or rarely) exercise. They are more likely to exercise sporadically and hurt themselves when they do. Complete lack of exercise means that these folks are prime targets for many infirmities as they get older.
However, even people who regularly exercise may have some bad habits. The exercise may be inefficient. The method of exercise may invite injuries. It may simply be that your exercise is all cardio and no strength (or vice versa). Regardless, a bad habit is never a good thing, and changing any of these bad fitness habits will have a positive effect on your health.
If you want to make a change to your health, then you can check out these habits to improve your fitness routine.
Bad Grooming Habits
If you have any problems attracting the opposite sex, and have any of these bad habits, you may be circling a major part of the problem. Hygiene is an important part of our social norms.
For those of us who are married, it may seem easier to just “let ourselves go” and not worry about hygiene as much. But this is flawed thinking. Letting yourself go completely like this will cause friction in your relationship.
If any of these bad grooming habits sound familiar, you may want to make it a high priority to do something about changing these bad habits.
Toxic Relationship Habits
Many bad relationship habits happen between spouses or people who are dating. But I do not limit “relationship habits” to people in intimate relationships. These bad habits can also manifest themselves with your coworkers, peers, subordinates, and friends.
Consider anyone who you spend more than an hour a week with as having some sort of a “relationship” with you (even though it may be a hostile relationship).
Also consider the frequency of these habits before deciding if they are a problem. An example is jealousy. The green-eyed monster of jealousy may rear its head from time to time without being a “bad habit.” We all feel a little jealous now and again, but if you are frequently jealous, that is certainly a big problem.
Bad Habits That Are Just Gross
Not to be too judgmental, but let’s be honest: Some habits are just gross. Even the quasi-acceptable bad habits on this list are still a little bit gross (here’s looking at you, five-second rule for food).
Bad Habits That Show Lack of Self-Esteem
Self-confidence and self-esteem are issues for many people. They have problems interacting socially. They get nervous and may display many of the nervous habits that we talked about before. But in addition to those nervous habits they may also showcase habits that show their lack of self-esteem.
If you display any of these bad self-esteem habits on a regular basis, you may want to work on building your confidence. Saying daily affirmations is one way to build your self-confidence. You can easily make affirmations that are tailored directly to you and your needs. But here are some sample affirmations related to self esteem that can help you get started: (Self-Love Affirmations & Self-Reliance Affirmations). Bad habits related to self-esteem include:
If you want to improve your self-esteem, then I recommend checking out these confidence habits.
Bad Conversation and Social Skills Habits
If you want to achieve a measure of success in life, it is often important to be able to work well with others. A key component of working with others is conversation. You can either make a good impression or be that guy who rambles, interrupts others, and monopolizes the conversation.
Looking at the list below you can see there are a couple of “buckets” to bad conversation habits. Some are further offshoots of the lack of self-esteem above. These include not holding eye contact, using “umms” and “ahhs,” and excessive throat clearing. The second bucket comes mostly from being a bit selfish in conversation.
Whichever bucket your bad conversation habits fall into, chances are people either rarely hear what you think, or really don’t want to hear what you think. Both are bad. Fixing these habits will help make you an effective communicator.
Bad Organizing and Cluttering Habits
Not doing your dishes every day does not make you a bad person, but it probably does make you a disorganized person.
The little things, like keeping your home and office clean and organized, are actually more important that you might realize. Many years ago there was a social theory called the broken window theory. The core concept of this theory was that when you take care of the little things in a town, like broken windows, people feel more pride and civic duty, and other factors like crime go down.
This experiment has been repeated many times, on the macro city level and on the personal micro level. The results are always the same. Taking care of the little things like cleaning makes you more efficient and happier, and has results that far outstrip the effort you put into these tasks.
If you are a little bit on the messy side, taking the time to address your “broken windows” (bad cleaning habits) below might be something worth your time and effort:
12 Really Bad Habits You Can’t Fix Alone
Now we’ll finish with the really bad stuff. The particularly bad...bad habits list.
With the possible exception of smoking, all the habits on this list are pretty rough.
In many ways, habit change can be a “do it yourself” thing. To fix many bad habits all you need is the will to change, the time to build new replacement routines, and an understanding of the triggers that cause bad habits (and how to avoid them).
Most of the bad habits below signify a lot more than just a “bad habit.” There are often many psychological reasons people manifest these really bad habits. They are not habits you can easily get rid of on your own. Seek professional help for these habits. Specialists in your specific area include counselors, psychoanalysts, and psychiatrists.
How Do You Break These Bad Habits?
The first step in changing any bad habit is finding the precise habit you want to change and then truly focusing on making this change. So by just reading this list and deciding which of these habits you exhibit, you have taken that important first step.
Once you are ready to make a change, it is time to start planning the specifics of how, when, where, and what exactly you are going to change.
Rather than reinventing the wheel and adding to an already long post, let me guide you to another post: the ultimate guide to breaking bad habits. This guide is an incredibly detailed review of exactly how to get rid of any bad habit. It details 27 steps you can use to overcome any bad habit.
This guide is very detailed. It covers the ins and out of breaking bad habits. If you are looking for something that is a bit more “quick start,” then this shorter guide to creating new habits to replace your old bad habits may be what you are looking for. I still recommend the longer guide, but this shorter one may be more to the point if you have an easy bad habit to deal with.
Finally, there is one last article that may interest you: a list of 203 good habits you can build.
A habit takes up a space in your life. When it is gone, there is an absence. It is recommended to try to replace bad habits with good ones. This helps to fill the gap caused by you no longer indulging in the bad habit. This is like replacing smoking with chewing sugar-free gum. It gives the mouth and mind something to do.
If you are trying to get rid of a bad habit, I would seriously think about replacing it with a good one. It not only helps you beat the bad habit, but it also adds some positivity into the equation by adding something that can really help you into your daily routine.
Thanks for taking your time to read this list of bad habits. We all do things we wish we didn’t, so don’t get down on yourself if you see a few habits on this bad habits list that feel familiar.
The important thing is that you recognize your bad habits and slowly work to change these actions into something positive.
Doing this will slowly transform your life—one habit at a time.
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