When learning new habits, focusing on adding new things, instead of avoidance, is much more effective. By focusing on addition, and being consistent, eventually some of the old habits you’d like to kick will take a backseat. You’ll be focused on your new habit that will snowball into other new habits that are good and eventually, push that old bad habit out.
Let’s say you want to start eating healthier. You proclaiming you’re no longer going to eat chips, drink wine, buy cheese or snack after dinner. The first couple days are tough, and you fight through. Then, on Thursday night, your friend offers you a glass of wine and you take it. It then becomes easier, since in your mind you’ve failed, to eat chips and snack on pop tarts and have donuts for breakfast. Since the streak is over, it’s all over, you’ve cracked the seal.
If we take the same scenario, but instead focus on addition, we can see a much different outcome. Let’s say you want to eat healthier. First, you decide that means more vegetables. You’re going to have a serving at every meal. First few days are difficult. But you get through it and accumulate small victories along the way. Fast forward to Friday night, a friend offers you a beer, you accept, with pleasure. You ate all 15 servings of your vegetables this week! The best part of this, even if you miss a serving of veggies, you have another meal, another opportunity to accomplish you task. So what if you missed, you get a lots of chances every day to hit it.
By adding new habits, we create smalls wins every time we check the box. It feels better than getting victory through deprivation. Then, when you want to back off and enjoy yourself, you feel good about what you’ve accomplish, so you’ve earned that beer. Opposed to feeling guilty for having a glass of wine because it was your habit to stay away from that stuff.
Subtraction can work to develop habits, but it’s challenging and not nearly as positive as adding something in. Remember, when we add something in, it has the potential to snowball and lead to other good habits and maybe, just maybe pushing some of those old bad habits out of the way.