Change Bad Habits Into Good Ones

“Guilt is anger directed at ourselves — at what we did or did not do.” – Peter McWilliams

Use guilt — with a stop-loss point — to turn bad habits into good ones.

Let’s say, for example, that you want to get to bed earlier. Right now, you are in the habit of hitting the sack at 2:30 a.m. — which is giving you only six hours of shuteye every night. You know it’s unhealthy and you want to change, but you haven’t as yet been successful at doing so.

Here’s how you do it.

Break your ultimate goal into segments — in this case, half-hours. Then make it your first objective to try for two segments at once — one hour. Make one hour your target, but tell yourself that you won’t feel guilty if you get to bed a half-hour earlier.

What will probably happen is that you will seldom get to bed at 1:30 but 2:00 will happen pretty often. After a few weeks of that, adjust your target to 1:00 — again with an emotional stop-loss point (guilt trigger) at 1:30. Continue on like this till you reach your goal.

This is exactly how I trained myself to get to bed — usually — at 10:30. I used to feel “good” if I got to bed before 1:00. Now I feel bad if I stay up past 11:00.

There are better ways to improve yourself than using guilt. But if nothing else works, try it.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]