HABITS: How To Break Your Bad Habits (Part 2/4)

Achieving Better Habits [2]

If every habit has three components, what happens when you remove one of those components?

Great question. That’s exactly how you can intentionally break a bad habit.

A quick fix is to remove the cue.

A few weeks ago, I had a box of Oreos leftover from a party. Every time I walked by the kitchen, I saw the box on the counter. That was the cue.

The routine was to devour four or five Oreos, and the reward was a delicious sugar rush (followed by a small crash, of course).

I simply threw the box of Oreos away, and the habit disappeared instantly.

But this doesn’t work with everything.

Sometimes you can remove the cue and sometimes you can’t. Moments of confusion at work are inevitable for everyone, and they’re extra common for ambitious people like us.

... So should we change the reward?

No. This is a losing game because the reward is so closely tied to the routine.

Social media is designed to provide an enticing mental experience, so we can’t just decide to dislike Instagram in order to kill our bad habit.

Our minds often seek these rewards because we need what they provide.

Social media is a bad solution for this, but it does provide the small break that our brains may be asking for.

The solution is to intentionally change the routine.

If you can’t control the cue, and your mind needs the reward, swapping in a good routine for your bad routine is a winning strategy to break a bad habit.

I use a site blocker called Otto to act as a small line of defense for my subconscious social media routine. If I’m trying to battle my confusion with social media, I realize I might need a break.

So I take a walk outside of my office for a few minutes to clear my head and feel refreshed to attack the problem.


Are you an overachiever?

Continue to next part: HABITS (Part 3)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4