Replacing Bad Habits with Good Habits

What I’ve learned over the past week is that simply cutting out a bad habit is not very effective if you don’t replace it with a good habit.

I cut out television, but rather than cleaning the house, working more, or doing more things with my son—for the most part, I spent more time online doing various unimportant things. I played umpteen games of scrabble on the Internet Scrabble Club. I read an entire book (300+ pages) in one sitting while my son was busy elsewhere. I knocked out another book in 2 days.

Television was just a symptom of the problem. My problem was that I put off doing less pleasant tasks (or tasks that I perceive as less pleasant) for distractions.

I’m glad I’m reading more, but I can get just as hooked on a book as a TV show. In fact it’s even easier. I can read a book anywhere at anytime.

What I need to do is to create a plan of action. It’s not enough to just say that I will only watch TV on Fridays. I need to plan a way to do all the other things I want to do that I let television steal time from.

In Superhuman By Habit by Tynan, he suggests making a list to discover what your motivation is to create a new habit.

  1. What good things will happen if I implement this habit?
  2. What bad things will happen if I implement this habit?
  3. What good things will happen if I don’t implement this habit?
  4. What bad things will happen if I don’t’ implement this habit?

When I decided that television was a problem to be eliminated, I just assumed that all that TV time would turn into being-more-responsible time. Wrong!

Alcoholics that quit drinking are notorious for taking up smoking with a vengeance. When smokers quit, they have to be careful not to start overeating to deal with stress. Smoking is a problem, but just because you quit, doesn’t mean your health problems are over.

You need to retrain yourself to deal with stress and boredom in healthy, constructive ways.

What I really need is a systematic approach to recognize time-wasters and postpone them until I have completed my goals for the day.


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