How to Break Bad Habits with Mind Maps in 5 Steps

Do you know that a mind map can help you to break bad habits? Many people I talk with love to think about the amazing things they can do in the future. Most of them forget that change is only possible when they change their habits. We all know what we should do to change. Our bad habits are stopping us from creating the change.

For me, a bad habit is something that is creating something negative in our future. You do this without much thought or energy involved. At the same time, that same bad habit is often making us feel good right now.

Let's dive into this right now. You can start using this mind map method in your life and you can begin breaking your first bad habit today.


The Basic Flow of Events

Most of the time, you have a trigger, a response, and an outcome.

Here is an example:

I see candy on the table (trigger). This triggers my hand to pick it up (response). I put the candy in my mouth. The short term outcome is that I get a sugar rush and feel great. The long term outcome is I am getting obese...

We all have these trigger-response-outcome events happening in our lives.

I don't really think about my response to putting the candy in my mouth (I know...). The power of a habit is that it is something that requires little thought and hardly any energy.

That is what makes the habit so powerful. It is also what makes a habit so very difficult to change!

The goal of today is to give you more insight into what is happening. To uncover some of the more hidden choices that you make in your life. Make sure you don't have to put any candy in your mouth. Have the choice to only do it when it is useful in the short run and in the long run as well.


Let's Work Our Way Backwards

What are some of the outcomes that keep happening to you? Which ones don't you like?

Could it be that you don't like getting bigger or fat? Or is it that you can't seem to keep your focus on what you are doing and you get distracted all the time?

All these outcomes might be things that you feel are bad. Create a mind map on the right-hand side of your paper. The title is "OUTCOMES":

OUTCOME is the center of a new mind map. Pick one thing that you want to change in your life. For instance: 

  • You want to stop eating sugar. 
  • You want to exercise more. 
  • You like to be friendlier to people. 
  • You want to floss your teeth. 

Add 2 branches to the OUTCOMES map. The first (top) one is your desired outcome (I lost weight and now weigh 180 lbs.). The second (bottom) one is the current negative outcome (I am obese).

Add to the first (desired) branch sub-branches that tell you why you want this outcome. Add to the second branch (the negative branch) why you don't want this to happen to you. Add a couple of reasons to both of them

When I ask you to pick one of the outcomes you listed, I hope you pick the top one 🙂

Mapping out the Responses

In the middle of the sheet, we will add another mind map. The title of this map is Responses.

At the top side of that map, list out all the actions you have to take to achieve the desired result.

At the bottom, you write all the things you have to do to achieve the less desired outcome.

When you finished that, we continue to the trigger. 

You are doing great. We are almost done with the map. The next step is adding a complete list of the triggers.

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Triggers Your Brain Loves

As we wrote before, habits are difficult to manage. To get more control over them, we will start with the triggers around us.

When you look at the responses, you know that there are certain triggers that start the responses. It is up to you to figure out what these triggers are.

Create a map on the left-hand side of your paper, called TRIGGERS.

Now create a list facing towards the middle of the sheet. Add ALL the triggers that you can think of that connect to the responses you wrote. Make sure the most occurring triggers are at the top of the page. The ones that are very uncommon are down below.

When you find other responses, add them. 

Make sure you get as many triggers as you can!


This Is What You Will Do From Now On...

Here you go. This is the final sheet that shows you exactly what your bad habits are. But... there is more, much more.

I want you to fold the piece of paper horizontally. Make it fold just below the middle of the sheet. This way you can still see the words TRIGGER, RESPONSE, and OUTCOME.

Here's the result:

break bad habits

Have a look at the piece of paper. When you hold it the right way, you see that you have your most important triggers at the top. You also see the best responses. You also see what you want to achieve by working on this habit. 

For example, when I am working late and I want to get a snack, I look at the way I should respond. I should remove any sugar, eat greens, or eat some chewing gum. 

When I sit over 20 minutes, I should be exercising a bit. Just walk around, do some pushups, or stretch. This way I can improve my health!

From now on, it is up to you to start visualizing the trigger, result, and outcome.

Connect your triggers with the best responses. See the outcome become more real.

For example:

When I am in my car I want to eat candy (trigger). This used to trigger me to eat. Now that I know, I pick up some other response from my responses list. For instance, I grab a toothpick to clean the space between my teeth. Or I take some gum and chew on that

Using the right trigger, you can move towards the desired outcome. That is the one at the top of the right-hand side.

Now imagine if you find yourself having one of the 'bad' outcomes again. Think back to find out what the trigger and the response were. This way you can add the trigger to the list and make it even more helpful to break bad habits. 


So Here Is The Approach To Break Bad Habits...

1. Write your positive outcomes on the right-hand side. Add your negative responses in the second branch, at the second and lower branch)

2. Write your responses in the middle (good ones above the topic, bad ones below the topic)

3. Write your triggers based on how often and how strong they are on the left-hand side. Start at the top and work your way down

4. When you identify a trigger, choose the positive response to get a positive outcome

5. Add new triggers to the list when they are causing you to respond in either a positive or negative way

Say you have 10 triggers in your list. And the first 3 are very important since they happen the most. What you can do is pick the first one and make sure you don't get surprised by that one. When you've focused a couple of days on that one, you also take the second trigger and focus on that as well.

I bet if you get to the third or fourth trigger, you are already filtering out most of the negative outcomes!

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It will help you save time and feel a lot better at the end of the day, knowing you finished your work!

Here's a great video about how to bread bad habits!

Mr Charles Duhigg has a great video on how to break bad habits. Of course he is literally the person who wrote the book on the Power of Habit. Check this out!


What is the first habit you will work on? Do you see how easy it is to break bad habits? 

If you have any questions, please make sure you let me know. I am here to assist you in doing this. 

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