To break some problem behaviors of mine, I’ve tried the whole “1 data point for each day I don’t do x” beeminder goal. I’m embarrassed to say it actually led to weaseling on my part. For really addictive behaviors, even knowing that I will face a consequence at midnight tonight is beyond the cognitive horizon. Addiction limits your perspective to the next few minutes, or moments.
People who want to break a bad habit or resist addictive/compulsive behaviors are often advised to commit to resisting an urge for at least 10-15 minutes. The thinking is that focusing on delaying an urge and refocusing on something else, rather than thinking about indefinitely resisting all urges forever reduces anxiety and ideally, after 10 or 15 minutes of another activity, your urge will be diminished or pass on its own.
I was thinking that GTBee actually provides a way to make this process a little more visible, and of course, put some stick behind it. Whenever an urge arises, say, to smoke a cigarette, you can just quickly activate a GTBee goal “don’t smoke” and set the timer for 15 minutes. If this is successful, we could try ramping up to 20 or 30 minutes for future urges.
I’m excited by this possibility and some ideas for future ways to use it:
Say someone had a problem with compulsive online shopping, and this behavior is really only likely to happen when they are at home. If an urge strikes, rather than simply setting a goal to not online shop for 15 minutes, and having to trust themselves to not weasel/check back in in 15 minutes, they could make a commitment to go for a walk, and be at a particular location, say a park a few blocks away in 15 minutes. Then the goal could be fulfilled automatically when they arrive at that location in that time period.
I’d love any input on this or on anything that has helped people to break problem behaviors.