How to Stop Bad Habits (2-Minute Rule, Ulysses Contract, and One-Time Action)

How to Stop Bad Habits (2-Minute Rule, Ulysses Contract, and One-Time Action)
Bad habits are repetitive and automatic behaviors that provide no benefit and indirectly harm oneself or others. Because a habit becomes ingrained in a person, eliminating bad habits requires patience and consistent effort.

The author will provide several ways to eliminate bad habits, namely:

1. Create the 2-Minute Rule

Creating the 2-minute rule is essentially making a good habit feel easy to do, gradually replacing the bad habit. Examples of the 2-minute rule include :

- Reading one page every night to form a habit of reading before bedtime.

- Opening the thesis file every morning to develop a habit of working on the thesis every day.

- Opening the notebook every afternoon to establish a habit of studying every day.

- Turning off the lights at 10:00 PM to develop a habit of sufficient sleep.

- Going to the bathroom at 6:00 AM to establish a habit of starting the day early.

By creating the 2-minute rule, a task will feel easier to accomplish. Make a task seem like it will only take 2 minutes. For example, reading one page may actually take only 2 minutes. Once achieved, the hope is that one can read more than one page because, after starting, one may get hooked and continue reading.

Surely, you have experienced situations where starting something feels heavy, but once you do it, it becomes lighter. Like reading, it feels challenging to start, but after starting, it becomes easier. The principle of the 2-minute rule aims to make it easier to start something, so once started, it becomes easier to sustain.

2. Make a Ulysses Contract or Commitment Device

A Ulysses contract or commitment device is a term the author derived from the book "Atomic Habits" by James Clear. Ulysses is the name of the hero in The Odyssey, who ordered his sailors to tie him to the mast so they could listen to the enchanting Sirens' song without endangering themselves. Because they were tied to the mast, the enchantment did not harm the sailors. They couldn't move the ship in the direction of the dangerous sound.

The principle of the Ulysses contract is to bind someone to adopt a good habit and limit a bad habit. For example, if someone wants to eliminate the excessive habit of using social media, set difficult-to-violate limits. For instance, put the smartphone or gadget in a cabinet, lock the cabinet, give the key to parents or a sibling, and ask them not to return the key until a specified time.

3. Create a One-Time Action that Can Lock in a Habit

Creating a one-time action that can lock in a habit is one way to eliminate bad habits. An example of this approach is if you want to improve your sleep habits, consider buying a better mattress or, if there is a television in the bedroom, move it to prevent staying up all night watching TV. 

Another example is if you want to develop the good habit of reading a book before bed, buy as many books as possible at the beginning of the month or create a To Be Read (TBR) collection, which is a set of books to be read. By purchasing many books at the beginning of the month and placing them in the bedroom, you'll feel compelled to start reading them one by one.

These are some ways to eliminate bad habits. The reference used by the author is the book "Atomic Habits" by James Clear. The author highly recommends this book for anyone looking to form good habits and eliminate bad ones. The book has been widely read and sold over 100,000 copies in Indonesia.

Author: Mushpih Kawakibil Hijaj, Penadiksi Writer.

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