Willpower workout 18: Resisting bad habits

Willpower Workout #18: Ending Bad Habits

September 16, 2020

We talked about resisting bad habits in Willpower Workout #12 in the context of overcoming cognitive defaults and neural highways carved into our brains. In that workout, you had to go past the reading of words to see the color of the words in what is called the Stroop Test. This is very difficult for most people.

In this workout, we’re going to revisit the idea of bad habits again, but in a more general way. This workout is simple, but not necessarily easy:

Day 17 Willpower Workout:

  1. Pick something you do several times a day that you wish you didn’t do. This could be checking your email as much as you do, looking at Slack every time you hear the notification go off, or something as unrelated to work as cracking the joints in your toes (my choice for this workout).
  2. Avoid doing it at all or at the frequency with which it becomes unhealthy or counterproductive.

Remember that the best way to end bad habits is to replace the behavior with a positive behavior that produces the same reward.

Evaluating Your Workout:

  1. How many times did you do the bad habit when you didn’t want to?
  2. When you accidentally did it, was it because you did it without thinking or because you chose to do it?
  3. Did you get better or worse at resisting the bad habit over the course of the day?
  4. Did you discover what was truly reinforcing the bad habit (i.e., what was the reward for the behavior)?
  5. Were you able to find a replacement for the bad habit? If so, what was it?

Willpower Workout in Action:

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This is day 18 of a 40-day journey to explore your limits. If you’d like to receive a daily email with the willpower workout of the day, you can sign up here to start at Day 1 with the first workout:

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Past Workouts: