I’ve kicked a lot of habits this year, but I’m still stuck with the ones that I’ve been doing my whole life. The longer you keep a habit, the harder it is to kick. What has always surprised me is that the habits that are the hardest to kick, are the ones that hurt us the most. As my friend Katie always says, it’s the “high risk, high reward” problem. The risks might be terrible, for example, my Juuling habit could have given me lung cancer, but the rewards were just enough for me to keep doing it. I hadn’t even thought I was addicted—I thought I just liked it a lot—until I tried to quit. It gave me flu-like symptoms that lasted almost a week, and a two-week headache. But the only reason I quit was because finally I felt that the rewards weren’t outweighing the risks—I had stopped being able to orgasm. That was the only reason. Not the cancer, or popcorn lung, or the money I spent, which are long-term risks. It was the short-term risks that were finally enough for me to quit.
The only way to kick a habit, it seems, is for something really shitty to happen because of it. I only stopped smoking weed, which had been my favorite pastime for eight years, because it started giving me stomach pain. Before it was legal in my state, I was constantly in danger of being arrested for smoking in public places or driving or selling, but that wasn’t enough to deter me (unless maybe I had gotten in trouble).
Think about the habits you might even do every day, like driving without a seatbelt. It could quite literally kill you, but in one’s mind, the risks seem slim enough that the reward of feeling comfortable outweighs it. Think about the things you do without even thinking, like buying your daily coffee, or biting your nails. Think about the things you’ve chalked up to just being your personality, like excessive worrying, procrastinating, or a pessimistic attitude.
Think about your habits and think about what would have to happen for you to stop doing them. Is it worth waiting for that bad thing to happen for you to stop? They say it only takes 21 days to secure a habit. The longer you do it, the more ingrained in you it becomes. The more ingrained in you, the harder and harder it will be to quit. Of course, addictions like narcotics, nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine are going to be the hardest habits to quit due to the withdrawal symptoms you will likely endure, but willpower goes a long way.
Think about how much better you’ll feel after dropping these bad habtis. “It’ll be a lot of work” you say, but isnt keeping up a bad habit going to cost you the same amount of “work” in the long run? Your body, your brain, your wallet, and your loved ones will thank you.
The habits I’m going to try to break in 2020:
Dating men that are no good for me. I’ve been doing it for a long time, mostly because short-term it’s fun and exciting, but long-term risk wise, it’s very hurtful and damaging.
Eating so much sugar, especially at night. I tried to quit sugar completely before, but ended up getting a week-long headache, and though my face got thinner, I liked cookies too much and I dropped the idea. I have cut down a bit, but not enough.
Replacing bad habits like oversleeping and procrastinating with good habits like getting up early and getting things done. Instead of letting my bones disintegrate by lying in bed all day, I think I’ll exercise.
Maybe stop swearing so much? I might be getting a Big-Girl Job soon and I don’t think they’d like it if I said ‘fuck’ every time something went wrong or ‘shit’ every time I drop something.
Wish me luck.