By Leo Babauta

I have two theories about quitting a bad habit — and they’re diametrically opposed.

The theories revolve around these two methods:

  1. Quit cold turkey — put all your focus into quitting entirely, not allowing yourself a single exception. Just stop one day, and do everything in your power not to do the bad habit again.
  2. Gradual quit — cut back a little on your bad habit (go from 20 cigarettes a day to 15), so that it’s not that hard. Then cut back a little more, and a little more, so that each step is not super hard.

I actually quit smoking with the first method (“Cold Turkey”) and it was very hard but it worked. This is the method I’ve been advocating for years.

But a psychologist told me last year about research around gradually cutting back, and I really like this idea. I’ve done the gradual method with my diet, and it works really well.

So which method is better? I don’t know.

I suspect that they both work, and it might depend on the habit, or the person.

I’d like to do an experiment this month, if you’re up for it.

Our Quitting Experiment

Here’s how it will work:

  1. You’ll choose a group — Cold Turkey or Gradual Quit — and sign up via this form.
  2. You’ll report regularly (if you like) to one of two different forum threads. This is optional but recommended.
  3. I’ll be giving you articles on quitting habits, but some articles will have different instructions/recommendations based on which group you’re in.
  4. At the end of the month, you’ll report back to me (via another form I’ll send you) and tell me how you did.

With this very, very unscientific experiment, I think we’ll all learn more about what works best. I’ll report the results back to all of you. It’ll be fun!

Here’s how to sign up:

  1. Join the experiment using this form.
  2. Say hello (and report regularly) to one of these two open teams: Cold Turkey OR Gradual Quit

PLEASE NOTE: You won’t be quitting your habit starting Aug. 1 — I’d like you to use the first three days to monitor your habit, and write down what your triggers are. We’ll be actually quitting a few days into the month.