The Key to Turning Bad Habits into Healthier Ones
"You just gotta stay motivated!"
says the perfectly perky influencer on Instagram.
Yeah, thanks for that.
Here's the problem, though, bro:
Figuring out how to stop bad habits and develop healthier ones is really, really challenging.
It's not about "staying motivated."
Motivation and inspiration are emotions, and emotions are fleeting.
You Want It. So What?
The problem for most people is they never get past the stage of wanting change. And wanting change isn't enough.
In fairness, it's probably because you simply don't know what to do. You've tried things in the past, but nothing stuck. You're bombarded with ads for gyms, workout programs, and healthy meal services but seeing the options and knowing which one is right for you are two different things.
You know you should exercise, eat better, and stop doing certain things (smoking, drinking too much, ending every night with an entire container of ice cream).
Knowing what to do isn't the problem. Understanding why you don't do them is!
We think what worked for someone else will work for us.
Sally lost 75 lbs doing keto and Crossfit. Maybe you should do that too?
Jim went vegan. Maybe you should too?
Serena won't stop raving about the 30-day burpee challenge she used to get in shape. Maybe you should do the burpee challenge too?
You do what someone else is doing, or join a gym, and hope that by following their rules, you'll morph into that fit person with ripped abs who loves to get up and crush a workout every morning!
And that can work, but it often doesn't.
In fact most people end up not even using that gym membership! And they often don't even start the 30-day challenge, much less finish it. Or they find the nutrition change really hard to stick to and immediately start "cheating."
It might not be obvious, but you have deeply ingrained habits that won't be easy to change, and odds are, what worked for someone else won't quite check all the boxes of what YOU need.
Let's Disrupt YOUR Habits
Habit is repetition. Patterned behavior. Things you do regularly, sometimes on autopilot (brush your teeth before bed) and sometimes because you get a reward (delicious food).
What these habits all have in common is this pattern:
"See" --> Want --> Do --> Get
"SEE" is a trigger. Something is brought to your attention. It triggers the....
WANT - a desire, impulse, or craving
DO is what you do (duh) as a result
GET is the reward you receive for doing it
Now, think of the 4 parts of that pattern as fill-in-the-blank.
_____ --> _____ --> _____ --> _____
("See") (Want) (Do) (Get)
The habits we have fill in these blanks!
In the case of the innocuous, useful habits we accomplish easily, like brushing our teeth, it looks like this:
"See:" It's 11 pm, time for bed
Want: Clean teeth, not-gross breath, no cavities
Do: Brush and floss
Get: Fresh clean mouth, subconscious satisfaction at self-care
But when it comes to our less-helpful habits, like a daily McDonald's fix, it looks like this:
"See:" McDonald's on the drive home from work
Want: FRENCH FRIIIIIIIES
Do: Hit the drive-thru and supersize that shit
Get: Delicious FRENCH FRIIIIIIIES
Now, which part of the pattern is the problem? That's what we need to figure out. And once we do, we have something we can HACK!
You should be! You're about to experience a breakthrough, yo!
(Work it, kid!)
Ok, Sherlock, You're Up
Which part of the pattern should you disrupt?
The only part we can't disrupt is WANT, because let's face it, if you love french fries, you're never going to not want them.
That means we have to disrupt one of the other 3 parts - SEE, DO, or GET.
In the McDonald's drive-thru example:
Disrupt "SEE" by taking a different route home.
Disrupt "DO" by bringing and eating a pre-packed snack instead.
Disrupt "GET" by substituting the french fries with an equally satisfying tasty, salty snack but one that's healthier, like hickory-smoked roasted almonds.
Will the replacement behaviors give you the same rush? Maybe not. But change requires some effort, so that's just the breaks, my friends.
The goal is to disrupt a pattern often enough
that the new pattern becomes habit.
Let's DISRUPT SOME SHIT
(Simmer down, Sparky.)
Make a list of 5 bad habits you'd like to break and 5 healthy habits you'd like to form.
Now, if you're an "all in" kind of person like me, get after it!
If you're a "one thing at a time" and "all things in moderation" kind of person, choose 1 or 2 from each list to focus on.
(I recommend choosing the ones that will pack the most punch.)
Here is an example:
HABIT to HACK: I’m going to stop drinking too much and over-eating fattening, greasy food every Friday night.
"SEE" - It’s Friday night. Friends always hit happy hour. They press me to come.
DO - I go. I match my friends drink for drink. I order the loaded fries and nachos again.
GET - We have so much funnnnnnnn. I love my friends! DAMN, these fries are good.
WHY IT'S A PROBLEM - Ugh, another hangover. And I want to lose weight. But now I'm bloated. And I feel too gross to exercise.
(Dude, you ok?)
In this example, the GET is key. It's going to be really hard to say no to going out because it's fun, it's a release after a long workweek, you need time with friends.
So, can you disrupt DO by eating beforehand so you aren't as hungry for the bar food? And telling your friends you want their help in limiting yourself to two drinks? (Good friends will help; friends who don't.... well.... just sayin'....)
Or maybe, just maybe, you can get your friends to do something different, like take a happy hour hike or go out dancing.
YES, DISCIPLINE IS REQUIRED
I’m not saying any of this is easy. Having an idea for how you might disrupt patterns and replace them with healthier ones is only the beginning.
You’ll never ever completely remove the original SEE, so disregard the idea of that happening.
This is why recovered alcoholics are *always* recovering alcoholics.
But there are dozens of ways you can disrupt each habit's pattern - you simply have to experiment.
Commit to disrupting the pattern with new choices for long enough that the new pattern becomes habit.
This might take 2 weeks.
It might take a month.
It will likely take longer.
Disrupting patterns is exactly what we do in the game!
I took the tedious, difficult process of hacking habits and turned it into a GAME! And I couldn't be more proud of it.
And players love it. Most players play again and again and again. Over 50% of players play 3 or more games. Read why! >
SHARE YOUR DISRUPTION
Have you successfully hacked a habit? How? Let us know. Your story will inspire others!