#27 - How to Break a Habit

What’s one habit you would like to change?

If you haven’t thought about this yet, now wouldn't be a bad time. After all, it is New Years Resolution season..

Think about it for a second.

We all have things we want to do less of. Whether it’s eating, social media, anger outbursts, stressing, etc. that you want to do less of, doing it will require some work. But with some simple strategies, you can make it easier on yourself.

First, you need to attach a sense of purpose to why you want to change your behavior. As Simon Sinek states, the “why” is more important than the “what”.

So, as a first step, write down why you want to change (or at least think through it if you won’t write it - but heads up writing will be more effective for 99% of people).

Second, be mindful about when your tendencies for this habitual behavior are arising.

Part of that is to identify the things that trigger you to want to engage in the behavior you want to change.

The habit I’m currently trying to break is my psychological desire for caffeine. Caffeine is really fun for me, so doing this is hard. My brain has a very positive association with it.

But for a couple reasons, I don’t want to depend on it. So in order to break the habit, I’m going to have to do a lot of conceptualizing why I want to break it (i.e. getting it instilled in my brain the side effects like stress, nervousness, dehydration).

Then, when the craving arises, I can think about all the negative associations I have to it.

Then, I’m not just using willpower to resist the craving. I’m using my brain to kill the craving by thinking about all the negative aspects of it.

Think about what you want to change, then write down why. If you’re really bold, write it on a piece of paper and carry it in your wallet. Pull it out when you’re on the verge of collapse.

Happy Resolution Season,

Chip

PS - if you’re really serious about trying to build/break habits and want to learn more, read Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit.