A Creative Way to Change Bad Habits
Episode #8 of the course How to unleash your creativity by Jurgen Wolff
In the last lesson, we looked at how to move on from any creative efforts that don’t work out the way you’d hoped. In this lesson, you’ll discover a creative way to change any bad habit that doesn’t serve you, by teaching others how to do it.
How to Be Late and Other Bad Habits
I’ll illustrate the method with a personal example. I used to be late for just about everything, but until I did this exercise in a personal development workshop, I wasn’t aware of everything that went into that habit. We were asked to team up with one other person and take turns teaching the other person exactly how we “do” our bad habit. The other person made a list they eventually gave to their partner.
When I had to teach how to be late, I realized that there were many components to that behavior. If you want to learn how to be late, here’s what I suggest:
• Lose track of time when you’re brushing your teeth, shaving, or combing your hair.
• Before you go out, check your email and your phone messages just one more time.
• If you’re driving, assume that traffic will be light.
• If you’re using the subway, train, or bus, assume they’ll be running on time.
• If there are things you need to take with you, wait until just before you leave to find them.
• When you do arrive early, be bored so that it is less likely to happen again.
There are many more but you get the idea.
In my workshops, participants have taught a variety of bad habits. One participant advised that if you want to eat tons of junk food snacks, buy lots of them ahead of any social event so you can eat most of them before the party takes place and have an excuse to buy more. Another said one great way to avoid getting enough sleep is to wait until you’re in bed to do your last check of social media for the day. A third suggested that a powerful way to spend too much is to put everything on your credit card because it doesn’t really feel like you’re spending at all.
Although it’s fun to do this with a partner, you can also do it yourself, jotting down each specific way you do your bad habit as you think of them. Try to come up with a list of at least ten. If you have difficulty coming up with these, often, a significant other will be delighted to help you, especially if your bad habit is affecting them as well.
Come Up with Alternatives
The next step is to look at each of the items and come up with a way to counteract it. For instance, putting a clock in my bathroom helps me not lose track of time in there. If I have a meeting coming up the next day, before I go to bed, I collect everything I know I’ll need and put it in my bag. To avoid being bored when I arrive early, I put the Kindle app on my phone and use any extra time to read.
The workshop participant who wanted to cut down on snacking now does her snack shopping only on the day of her party and buys only enough for her guests to consume. The participant who looked at social media in bed got an app that denies access to social media sites for several hours. The workshop member who overspent now uses only cash for impulse purchases and finds that spending feels more real when he’s handing over actual money.
So, go through your list and come up with a new behavior that will discourage or stop the one you’re doing currently. You can change several behaviors at the same time, or you may prefer to change one every day. Start with the one you think will have the most impact, and keep going until the bad habit has been transformed.
In the next lesson, you’ll find out how to keep your creative confidence high by bringing creativity into all areas of your life.
Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom Kelley, David Kelley
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