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I took two weeks off of work to rest, and during this time, I finally got to read James Clear’s  Atomic Habits. In this episode, I want to share his simple and potent perspective on how to break a bad habit.

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I took two weeks off of work to rest and to dream. In that time, two major things happened. 

  1. I finally read Atomic Habits 
  2. I took the better part of two weeks off of Instagram 

Atomic Habits feels like it’s been the trendy personal development book for a while now, which is probably why I held off on reading it. I wish I would have read it sooner!

I appreciate James Clear’s simple, potent thoughts on building and breaking habits.

What became clear while reading the book is that I’ve built a lot of bad habits around Instagram. I use it as a distraction. I allow it to feed my insecurities while also giving me false validation.

I found that one rule in Atomic Habits resonated with me the most:

Make it difficult 

I’ve broken bad habits in the past by making them harder to complete. James Clear calls increasing friction. As he states, “Increase the number of steps between you and your bad habits.”

That’s what I did when I transformed my relationship to email.  

  • First, I had the email app on my phone and checked it regularly.
  • Then, I deleted the app, but I logged in on the browser frequently.
  • Finally, I logged out of the browser version of Gmail. If I absolutely had to log in, I made sure to use an incognito browser so that I’d be automatically logged out.

I’ve taken a similar approach to Instagram. Each time I use Instagram, I log out and delete the app. It’s not as appealing to aimlessly scroll because it takes effort to get Instagram on my phone. 

My favorite way to break a bad habit…?

Create a clear ending

This is especially useful when your bad habit involves something, like email, that you have to interact with.
An ending might look like:

  • Logging out 
  • Powering down 
  • Creating physical distance between yourself and the stimulus

The goal here is to make the action less automatic by giving yourself more time to realize what you’re doing. Instead of moving on autopilot, you’re able to make a conscious choice.

Take a moment to think about a bad habit that you would like to break.

How might you make it more difficult?