habit breaking tips: replacing one habit for another and have accountability

the bad news is that change is hard. always has been and probably always will be. in my experience, personal systems change is one of the hardest types of change to make. most people have built their current habits and practices over a lifetime. a habit built and maintained over years is not easily broken.

the good news is that change hard! as it is with all double-edged swords, once a habit, good or bad, is built, it’s much harder to break it.

so, in my own personal systems, i’m all about finding ways to break old habits and build new ones.

so here are two tricks that i’ve used on myself and seem to be helpful to other people.

  1. first, in line with my favorite buckminster fuller quote about change, i think the best way to break an old bad habit is to replace it with a new good habit. lots of people i know, myself included, have addictive personalities. this means when we get into something, we really get into it. that makes it much easier to take on a new good habit (say reading a book a week) than it is to try and kick a bad habit (say binge-watching an entire tv show a week). and making new habits stick is easier when you’ve set up some rewards and/or positive feedback cycles in the new habit.
  2. accountability is HUGE in making change stick. many people vastly undervalue and underestimate external support and validation. however, i’ve seen (and experienced) that just knowing someone is watching or cheering for you can make the difference between success and failure of a new habit.

accountability can show up in many ways. some methods i’ve used on myself and with others are: (a) letting someone else know your goals and then checking in with them about your progress, (b) asking someone else to check in with you regularly about your progress, and (c) committing to something with someone else and supporting each other in it.

change is hard. the more ways to make it easier, the better.

ps - i’m also testing a combination of (a) and (b) which is that you try to check in with someone about your progress and then if they don’t hear from you, they should actively ask you how it’s going.