Develop a New Habit: Do Something Unsustainable

Ever wondered to yourself “How does it come I can’t get myself to commit to develop a new habit”? I’ve been in that place too. Even though I’m usually a very intense person, I sometimes slack off.

Today we’re going to look at how you can develop a new habit, by doing something very unsustainable for short periods of time.

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Moving the Needle

When you’ve decided you want to develop a new habit, the most important thing to do first is to move the needle. It can be very hard to get started, but once you’re there it’s not big deal anymore.

Moving the needle is all about this first burst of effort to get going. An example would be the guy at the back of the pack in the Tour de France. If they want to catch up, they have to sprint like crazy.

They will be using tremendous amounts of energy to get going. However, once they’ve caught up, they don’t need as much energy to keep in the pack.

Unsustainable is Fine

When you want to develop a new habit, doing something unsustainable is perfectly fine. Some people think this is too hard, or even impossible, because they could never keep up with it.

It doesn’t matter!

You don’t have to keep up, you just have to get going! From there everything will be so much easier. Building a habit is all about starting and then you’re set.

How I Develop a New Habit

In December 2018 I decided to quit drinking alcohol completely in January 2019. For me, this is unsustainable. I like drinking a beer or two, or a whisky.

In general, drinking alcohol is not a problem. It becomes a problem when you drink too much, or when you can’t function properly because you drink so much.

For me, this wasn’t the case. The only thing I am concerned about is my fitness. I noticed over the last few years that cracking open a beer was just too easy for me, and I drank more and more. Not to the extremes, but drinking one or two beers every night was definitely not helping my health and fitness.

So there I was, completely dropping alcohol and building a new habit. Or actually, not really a new habit but more changing an old one. I guess that counts too…

Rich Dad Poor Dad is also about developing new money making habits. Read my book review here.

Why This Works

Research shows that people that quit drinking for an entire month, are less likely to drink in the months afterwards. And that’s where I want to go.

I don’t intend to live a life without alcohol. For me it’s acceptable to drink now and then. But let that be the Saturday night with some good friends and an expensive and delicious Scotch. Not the regular Tuesday dinner with two beers.

My belly size will thank me for this decision I think.

How are you building a habit? Did you every try this strategy of moving the needle? 

3 thoughts on “Develop a New Habit: Do Something Unsustainable”

  1. Couldn’t agree more with this. The hardest part of building a habit it is to do it the first time. Each time you do it after that is easier. The problem that I have is that once I break a habit then I find it really hard to get back into it.

    I got to the same point as you on drinking. Now I only drink with friends. My wife enjoys a glass of wine with her dinner but I prefer the feeling of sleeping better and waking up with a completely clear head!

  2. #NoCakeJanuary is a thing! Join the fun, it’ll also do wonders for your belly :P

    I’ve found that it also has a positive effect, on (not) eating other sugary/unhealthy stuff.
    It really is that first step that’s the hardest. And then like Caveman says, once you have a “misstep”, you need to basically just IGNORE the fact that it happened (and not beat yourself up about), and then continue along the line you were on.