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Can't Kick a Bad Habit? You're Probably Doing It Wrong

Progressive extremism

The process of “progressive extremism” utilizes what we know about the psychology of identity to help stop behaviors we don’t want. It works particularly well in situations in which substituting one habit for another just won’t do.

Identity helps us make otherwise difficult choices by offloading willpower. Our choices become what we do because of who we are.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Can't Kick a Bad Habit? You're Probably Doing It Wrong

Can't Kick a Bad Habit? You're Probably Doing It Wrong

https://www.nirandfar.com/bad-habits/

nirandfar.com

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Key Ideas

Starting vs breaking a habit

The process of stopping bad habits is fundamentally different from forming new ones.

  • Creating a habit requires encoding a new set of automatic behaviors: the brain learns causal relationships between triggers that prompt action and the associated outcome.
  • The popular belief is that the key to breaking a bad habit is replacing it with another habit. But this doesn't always work.

Progressive extremism

The process of “progressive extremism” utilizes what we know about the psychology of identity to help stop behaviors we don’t want. It works particularly well in situations in which substituting one habit for another just won’t do.

Identity helps us make otherwise difficult choices by offloading willpower. Our choices become what we do because of who we are.

"Don’t" vs "Can’t"

By classifying specific behaviors as things you will never do again, you put certain actions into the realm of “I don’t” versus “I can’t.”

Saying “I don’t” rather than “I can’t” provides greater “psychological empowerment.”

Kicking a bad habit

  • Identify the behavior you want to stop: e.g, not eating processed sugar. 
  • Choose one specific food to cut from your diet. It needs to be something you wouldn’t miss.
  • Diets don’t work because they are temporary fixes. To become part of your identity, the commitment needs to be forever.
  • Write down what you no longer eat and the date you gave it up. Writing this down marks the shift from a temporary “can’t” to a permanent “don’t.” 
  • If the commitment feels like too much, you’re doing too much. 

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Willpower is Limited

Though companies like Nike try to ignite our willpower with their slogans, ultimately willpower cannot squash our subconscious and unconscious behavior.

Repetition of action and thought can m...

Knowledge is not Enough
Just merely knowing something is good or bad for you is not going to give you any benefit, unless the implementation is done. Conscious knowledge cannot change your behavior, one has to make necessary changes to successfully act in self-control.

If you know that you will eat junk food because your refrigerator is filled with it, remove all the junk food.

Friction

Just as removing friction aids in doing the activity more often, adding friction can aid to remove the bad habit, by making it difficult or cumbersome to do so.

Example: Cigarette smoking declined due to adding taxes, banning in public places and removing from vending machines.

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Building habits

The basic process for building all habits is basically the same: you repeatedly condition the behavior you want, over time, until it becomes automatic.

But no habit starts out auto...

Conditioning a habit
2 main ways you can condition a habit:
  • Classical conditioning: a paired association with a trigger and a behavior. Going to the gym after you wake up each morning is this kind of habit.
  • Operant conditioning: you not only associate a trigger with a behavior, but you reward that pairing, to accelerate the habit-forming process.
The 30-Day Trial

You commit to some change for 30 days, then tou can go back to your old ways. But having spent thirty days applying a new behavior is often enough to convince you to stick with it.

Pros:

  • Can handle more significant/difficult behavior changes you might be unlikely to start with a perpetual commitment.
  • Fosters an experimental mindset, rather than assuming you already know what’s best.

Cons:

  • 30 days probably isn’t enough to actually make something a habit.
  • Without a long-term plan, many 30-day trials will revert back to the original behavior.

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“The secret to permanently breaking any bad habit is to love something greater than the habit.”

Bryant McGill
The Role Of Perseverance On Change

Bad habits don’t go away overnight. But, you can use strategies to give you that extra boost of self-confidence and self-control required to change.

Understand that sometimes you will fail and sometimes you’ll succeed. But no matter how long it takes to fail and get back up again, your patience and perseverance will soon pay off.

Creating An “If-Then” Plan

It gives you an automatic response to react to your cravings and makes it easier to replace a bad habit with a good one: 

  • Identify the scenario that usually triggers your bad habit.
  • Specify a different response to the trigger. Ideally, this should be a good habit that would replace and prevent you from falling into the temptation.
  • Combine steps 1 and 2 into an “if-then” format.

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What causes bad habits

Most of the time, bad habits are simply a way of dealing with stress and boredom.

Everything from biting your nails to overspending on a shopping spree to drinking every weekend to ...

"Benefits" of bad habits

All of the habits that you have right now — good or bad — are in your life because they provide a benefit to you, even if they are bad for you in other ways.

And because bad habits provide some type of benefit in your life, it's very difficult to simply eliminate them. Instead, you need to replace a bad habit with a new habit that provides a similar benefit.

How to break a bad habit
  • Choose a substitute for your bad habit
  • Cut out as many triggers as possible. 
  • Surround yourself with people who live the way you want to live.
  • Visualize yourself succeeding and avoid negative self-talk.
  • Plan for failure and find things that can help you bounce back when you make a mistake.
Replacing protein

Protein is not just found in meat. It is also found in grains and vegetables. And if you are getting enough calories, then you are getting enough protein.

Try to keep the daily mix of wh...

Eat Beans

Beans come in many varieties and are excellent stand-ins for meat in certain recipes.

Cooking the beans yourself provides a better flavor and texture, but canned beans are also a good alternative as convenience food.

High-Protein Grains

Grains have more protein than we think and also contains a host of other vital nutrients, especially when we eat them whole.

Some staple that fills a grain bowl is quinoa, Kamut, teff, millet, wild rice, buckwheat, cornmeal, and even pasta.

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There is no such a thing as a "gym person"

There are just people who go to the gym.

Similarly, there’s no such thing as a “productive person.” There are just people who do productive things fairly often.

Keep your “self” out of your decisions

Think of your life as a long sequence of actions and decisions.

Just ask yourself, “Is this a good thing to do?” If the answer is Yes, go do it.

“Change” means changing your identity
“Change” means changing your identity

It’s one thing to say, “I want to start going to the gym weekly.” It’s another to say, “It’s time to change and become the type of person who goes to the gym weekly.”

The...

Habits and success

Habits change your life, but they don't guarantee success.

Waking up early, working hard, and taking cold showers do not cause success. They contribute to it, but they may be insuffici...

Decide what habits are worth it

It's up to you to define what a good habit is. This critical to forming new habits. 

To find your why, your reason to change, just ask yourself this: “Will habit x improve the quality of my life?”  Answer that. And then, adopt habits that bring you closer to the things you want in life.

Focus on one habit at a time

We overestimate ourselves most of the time. And that's one of the reasons we try to do so many things at the same time, in a short period.

We can achieve a lot over a long period. So focus on one thing at a time. Stack one habit on top of the other, one by one.

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Focus On Keystone Habits

Keystone habits lead to the development of multiple good habits. 

Exercise is a good example of this. Once you start to change your exercise habits, it sets off a chain reaction t...

Use “Minimum Viable Effort”

Focus on baby steps. The key to new good habits is to do the minimum and be consistent.

Do not be ambitious at the beginning. That leads to failure. Consistency is what you’re shooting for, so make the hurdle as low as possible.

Make A Plan

Thinking about the details makes you more likely to follow through. 

Just writing down your plan also makes a big difference in effectively committing to your goals.

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Habit Ladder

This is a system that is automated by you. It is called a habit ladder because, from the time you wake up to finishing your first work task of the day, you're climbing up one rung at a t...

How Habits Work

A habit - a mini-system that once you create, becomes automatic to your body, with minimal interference from the brain.

The Habit Loop is a breakdown of a habit put it into three sections:

  • Cue: A certain trigger that awakens the habit
  • Routine: The action you perform without thinking.
  • Reward: The change you experience making you want to do more of the same.
Making a Habit Ladder

Keep a trigger cue ready and stack up the routine in such a way that your tasks become a habitual routine without any friction, each trigger cue and routine stacked over the next one.

Example: Put on running shoes instead of slippers in the morning and that's your cue to go out for a walk, then when you are back and feeling sweaty, that's your cue to take a bath.