In less than 128 seconds, I’m going to show you a fool-proof way to say good-bye to your Bad Habits. Or at least start on it. I’ll also go through the exact same process with you for the Bad Habit I broke last week.
Get your stopwatch up. Set it to 100 seconds. Ready?
128 seconds starts . . . now.
Get A Piece of Paper
Get one. Now. Not tomorrow, not after you eat, not after you take 10 more minutes scrolling into Facebook’s News Feed.
Place your phone, or whatever you’re holding, and find some paper NOW.
Don’t throw yourself with BS. You have paper. Find it. Get it. Place it right in front of you.
(Nope, even the smallest of papers will work. If some guy wrote the alphabet on a grain of rice, you can write on the nearest paper you can find.)
Get A Pen
You know the drill. Find it. Get it. Place it in your writing hand.
Recall A Specific Moment
Here’s where it involves more brain.
Start off by thinking of the bad habit you want to stop. For me, it was using my phone too much before going to bed. I’d lie down, turn my phone on, fire Facebook open, and literally spend the next 2 hours scrolling into the abyss that is Facebook’s News Feed. I get up early the next morning, and have a massive headache to start the day.
Definitely not a habit I wanted to keep.
Here’s what I did, and here’s what I want you to do.
I want you to recall the last time that you performed your Bad Habit. Don’t think of every single time you did it. Recall the last, specific time you went through the Bad Habit Process. The more specific, the better. I don’t want you to get stuck on thinking “Oh, what do I do when I do the Bad Habit again . . .” I want you to pluck off your most recent and vivid memory, and turn that beautiful picture into words on paper.
Here was mine:
Last Friday, when I went to bed to lie down to sleep, I brought my phone for the alarm. I ended up using it for the next 2 hours, and slept around 2:30am as a result. I had to wake up around 6:00am the next day. When I did, I felt like shit.
Once you nail down the specific, write it down. Write it down like you’re living and breathing that Bad Habit right now.
Right below that line, I want you to write down the general. In general, what do you end up doing when you get sucked in your Bad Habit? Your specific statement is there to guide you to create this general statement. If you can’t think of one after 20 seconds – don’t push it. Proceed to the next step. You’ll live without one.
Here’s my general statement:
When I go to sleep, I bring my phone with me and end up using it for an hour or more and I never really go to sleep directly. This makes my next morning really bad.
Once you write that down, you’re going to have something that looks like this:
(Please excuse my writing. Excuse yours too if it looks like shit. It’s not something you should worry about in this exercise. What matters is that you take action – and you take action with intent.)
Awesome. You now have Bad Habit Statements: a specific and general statement that describes the Bad Habit you want to break. Here comes the fun part.
Solve Your Problem
Yup. It’s actually as simple as that. Once you have your specific and general Bad Habit statements, solve them. If you have a hard time because you feel like you’re going too hard on yourself, solve them as if they weren’t your problems. Google it. Ask a friend. Do whatever it takes.
The important part is that you write it down.
This entire exercise breaks down if you don’t write it down. Typing does not count. You gotta write it. You have a piece of paper and a pen, right?
And while you write it down, write it like you mean it. Write it as if you were taking to heart every single word that flowed from your pen to your paper. Write it with intent, or don’t write it at all.
For my bad habit, I wrote:
Turn off the WiFi on your phone.
Place your phone under the bed the second you lie down.
Place your phone on the table across your room so you can’t touch it.
(Genius, right? Kidding. An 8 year-old could cook up these Bad Habit Solutions.)
Here’s my end result:
If you don’t have something that looks like this – good for you. Your handwriting probably looks 99x better than mine. 🙁
On to the last step!
Keep It Close
Once you have your piece of paper with your lovely, handwritten Bad Habit Statements and Solutions, I want you to place it within your reach ALL THE TIME.
Okay, not all the time. If your Bad Habit is like mine, and it involves sleeping and beds, keep it near your bed. I keep mine on the whiteboard right beside my bed.
If your Bad Habit happens in the bathroom (what could you be doing in the bathroom?), keep it there. Keep it clean though. 😉
If your Bad Habit triggers when you leave the house, then keep it in your wallet. Or something that you bring along when you go out.
In short, I want you to keep it close because you need to be mindful of your Bad Habit to ever keep it from happening again (or at least close to that).
And that’s it!
Those were the steps that I personally took to stop using my phone into the wee hours of the morning. In short, being mindful of the Bad Habit, and keeping it in writing very close to me, helped me stop doing them.
Like all exercises/techniques/processes in life, it may not work for you. The one described here leans more toward those small, here-and-there Bad Habits you have.
I feel that a different process would work better for Bad Habits that cultivated over a longer span of time. I’ll test it out and share it with you once I find that it produces results.
In the end, what matters is that you start doing something towards breaking your Bad Habits. Even if this exercise turns out to be crap for you. Or if it took you longer than the promised 128 seconds.
Get some momentum going. Switch methods when you find out this doesn’t work. Google new ones. And do not, I repeat, DO NOT, stop.
Like they say, habits are what makes or breaks us. As to which side you’re on, that’s up you.