How To Break The Bad Habits You Don’t Know You Have

If you don’t know you have a bad habit, obviously you have no motivation to break it. But it's the mysterious habits we do subconsciously – or almost subconsciously – that can do the most damage to our lives.

“Sometimes bad habits can veer into addiction territory,” says John Collopy, author of the book The Reward of Knowing ( “The most dangerous bad habits are the ones we don’t realize we have.”

Collopy is a successful real estate broker today who is the owner of 38 real estate offices in Minnesota and Wisconsin. But it was not an overnight success. He had a long uphill battle against demons he didn’t know he had. He thought he had moved past his troubled childhood with a dysfunctional family and abusive father. But when he became an adult, he quickly became dependent on alcohol to get through the day, and he also had anger management issues.

“Pinpointing bad habits is not as easy as diagnosing a drug or alcohol addiction,” says Collopy. “Honing in on why we think the way we do, and why we do the things we do – that takes some deep reflection that many people won’t take the time to do.”

He says that it was only after he dived deep into his own soul that he realized he had subconscious bad habits and he needed to break the cycle. He says he makes a conscious effort each day to make choices that align with his personal life goals.

He offers these suggestions for those who may be struggling to understand why they continually seem to make the wrong decisions.

  • Start with identifying where you are stuck. The first step is identifying the exact moment you realized you were doing something that you knew you didn’t really want to do. 
  • Find the trigger. As soon as you have located the exact moment you went off the rails, try to find out what triggered your behavior that you want to change.
  • Ask yourself: is this behavior moving me towards my life’s goals? By keeping your ultimate goals in mind, it will make it easier to take the smaller steps needed to obtain those goals.
  • Don’t let bad habits cause you to have a mediocre life. Sometimes bad habits are not as serious as alcohol or drugs, but nonetheless they wear you down so you are not as productive and happy as you could be.  Don’t allow bad habits to make your life less fulfilling than it should be.
  • Ask for help. If it is a small habit you are trying to break, just telling friends about it can help you internalize the need for change. If it is a big problem, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

“Our habits – good or bad – determine whether we reach most of the goals in our lives,” Collopy says.  “What I’ve learned is that you have to identify the underlying cause of the bad habits before you can break them.”

About John Collopy
John Collopy, author of the book The Reward of Knowing (, is the owner and broker of RE/MAX Results and its subsequent 38 offices across Minnesota and Wisconsin.  With annual sales of more than $5.3 billion, RE/MAX Results is now one of the largest RE/MAX franchises in the world.  John currently lives in Minnesota with his wife and children.