By Leo Babauta

OK, you’re ready to start your quit … but how do you do it if you’re quitting cold turkey vs. quitting gradually?

In this article, I’d like to briefly outline ideas for doing each of these methods.

If you haven’t yet, please join our habit experiment here.

Quitting Cold Turkey

So you’re one of the many who signed up to quit all at once … should be easy, right? You just stop.

Actually, you’ll increase your chances of success if you do more than that, and understand how quitting a habit works.

Here’s what I suggest:

  1. Pick a habit that’s at your level. Read this guide to choosing a habit to quit if you haven’t yet. Don’t choose a habit that’s too hard for you.
  2. Track your triggers. Before you go cold turkey, you should know that the urge will come up, and it will be strong. The urges come after certain triggers. Before you quit, track your triggers for a few days.
  3. Make a plan & understand why. Create a Quit Plan that contains a powerful reason for quitting. If you don’t have a powerful reason, you won’t last.
  4. Have replacement habits for each trigger. We’ll talk more about this tomorrow, but for now, think about what you’ll do instead of the habit, when each trigger comes up.
  5. Have reminders. How will you remember to do your replacement habit when the triggers happen? Find reminders.
  6. Have accountability. Join the Cold Turkey Open Team on the forum, and report to them regularly. Ask for help if you’re having trouble!

Also know that you might fail, but that’s OK. Don’t let yourself give up just because you messed up. Figure out what the obstacle was, figure out a solution, put it on your Quit Plan, and get better and better at the habit!

Quitting Gradually

I highly recommend you do all the steps listed above for quitting cold turkey. Seriously, go read them now if you haven’t yet! They all apply.

But instead of joining the Cold Turkey Open Team, please join the Gradual Quit Open Team.

In addition, you’ll want to figure out a gradual schedule. Here’s one idea:

  1. Figure out how often you normally do the bad habit now. It might be 15 times a day, or just 2 times.
  2. Come up with a way to do less for the first week. For example, if you do the habit 15 times a day, try to do it 2 times less for the first week. So try to do your replacement habit 2 times a day for the first week.
  3. Increase the times you do your replacement habit by a little each week. Maybe 4 times the 2nd week, 6 the third week, etc. Or maybe you just increase by 1.

Realize that this method takes patience, because you won’t be changing all at once. This can be a challenge for some of us who want to see amazing results right away. But with this gradual method just might be more long-term success, so stick with it!

Also realize that you might not be completely quit by the end of the month. That’s OK. You’ll be a lot farther along, and you should continue your focus on gradually quitting next month as well. Rome wasn’t built overnight!