By Leo Babauta
Many people make the mistake of just trying to quit a habit without giving it much thought â€” they think it’ll be as simple as, “OK, I’m just going to stop today!”
And if they’re lucky, it can be that easy. Most of us aren’t as perfect at it as that, so for the rest of us, we need to give some thought to triggers, replacement habits, reminders, accountability, and more.
Enter the simple Quit Plan.
I’ve created a template for creating your Quit Plan … just know that it’ll take you about 10 minutes to fill out, and you should start doing it today. You can add to it as you go.
Your Powerful Reason for Quitting
The biggest mistake a lot of us make is quitting a habit because it sounds like a good idea. This doesn’t work. You have to have a really good reason.
For example, here are two of my failed quits:
- I quit coffee because I thought it would be nice to be unattached. But coffee wasn’t causing any major problems in my life, so after a month of being coffee-free, I started again. This happened to me twice, and now I’ve decided not to try to quit it because I don’t care enough.
- I quit alcohol for a month because I overdid it a couple nights, but after about a month I went back to my more moderate habit of having 1-2 glasses of wine each evening. The real motivation was that I didn’t like overdoing it, not that having 1-2 glasses of wine was causing any major problems.
I’ve done similar things for sugar, white flour, etc. … I was able to quit them for a month, but I wasn’t incredibly motivated to change because doing these things in moderation doesn’t cause me problems. I don’t eat a lot of sugar, but a little doesn’t seem to harm me.
By contrast, I was able to quit smoking, meat, dairy & eggs, fast food and more when the reasons were more powerful:
- Smoking: My motivation was not only that smoking was killing me, but that it would cause my kids to smoke as adults if I didn’t stop. So I was doing it to save my life, and the lives of my kids.
- Meat/poultry/fish: I became vegetarian because 1) I thought it would help my health (it did, mostly because I ate more veggies and fewer calories), and more importantly, 2) I didn’t feel it was necessary to cause suffering and killing of animals for my pleasure. So it was for my health, but more importantly out of compassion for other beings.
- Veganism: I went from vegetarian to vegan, despite loving cheese (at the time, not anymore), when I learned of the horrible things that happen to dairy cows, baby cows (veal), egg hens, baby chicks, just so I could eat some cheese and eggs. It turns out that there’s horrible suffering and killing just for our pleasure, so I was motivated to not participate in this system of suffering. Quitting became easy.
- Fast food: I stopped going to fast food because it wasn’t good for my health, nor my kids. We haven’t been to McDonald’s (or Taco Bell, etc.) for probably 8 years or so. The health of my family was a powerful motivator.
Whatever habit you quit, make sure you have a very strong reason. And write it down in your Quit Plan. If you don’t have a good reason, dig deeper and find one, or find another habit to quit instead.
Today, I’d like you to do the following:
- Copy the Quit Plan to your Google Docs, or download it to open in a text editor or Word.
- Continue to track your triggers for the next couple of days. Write them on the plan.
- Write down your Why and fill out a few other things on the plan.
You can see an example of a Quit Plan by looking at mine here.