Habits play a significant role in shaping our lives, and establishing good habits is essential for long-term success. If you want to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s not about following the latest diet trend for a few months. It’s about creating healthy habits that will become your lifestyle for life. Cultivating new habits, however, is easier said than done. Despite our best intentions, we often make excuses, or loopholes, that prevent us from following through with our good habits. Understanding these loopholes is essential for creating or changing habits to improve your life.
1. False Choice Loophole: “I can’t do this, because I’m so busy doing that.”
This loophole arises when we believe that we need to choose between two activities that are opposing. For example, you might think that if you join that yoga group, you won’t have any time with your daughters, or if you go to sleep earlier, you won’t have any time to yourself. This kind of thinking is counterproductive because it assumes that you cannot have the best of both worlds. Instead of thinking, “Can I have this or that?” think “Can I have this and that?” You will be surprised how often it’s possible to do both.
2. Moral Licensing Loophole: “I’ve been so good, it’s okay for me to do this.”
In this loophole, we permit ourselves to indulge in something “bad” because we believe we have been “good” for some time. We reason that we’ve earned it or deserve it, or that some “good” behavior has offset something “bad.” For example, you may think that after the day you had, you’ve earned a nice glass of wine, or that after losing weight steadily on this diet, it will be okay for you to cut a few corners. This type of thinking is counterproductive and can sabotage your efforts to establish good habits.
3. Tomorrow Loophole: “It’s okay to skip today, because I’m going to do this tomorrow.”
This loophole relies on a “tomorrow logic,” where we assume that the present doesn’t matter because we will start following good habits tomorrow. You might think that it doesn’t matter what you eat now because you’re starting a diet tomorrow, or that you’ll be frugal in January, so it doesn’t matter if you overspend in December. Some people fool themselves into thinking that extreme indulgence today will give them more self-control when the “magic” day arrives. But eating a giant bowl of ice cream today doesn’t make it any easier to resist tomorrow.
4. Lack of Control Loophole: “I can’t help myself.”
In this loophole, we argue that we don’t have control over the situation, and circumstances have forced us to break a good habit. However, usually, we have more control than we admit. Some examples of this loophole are thinking that you travel all the time, hence you cannot eat healthily, or that you have an injury, hence you cannot exercise. Identifying and acknowledging our control over the situation is critical to establishing good habits.
5. Planning to Fail Loophole: “I walked into this bakery to buy a bottle of water.”
Many people don’t plan their habits properly, and this loophole is the result of a lack of planning. For example, you might think that you’ll buy some scotch to have in the house in case someone stops by, but end up drinking it all by yourself. People who fail to plan are planning to fail. When it comes to weight loss, setting a specific goal and monitoring your progress using a printable tracker is essential for success.
6. “This Doesn’t Count” Loophole: “I’m on vacation” / “I’m sick” / “It’s the weekend.”
We tell ourselves that for some reason, this circumstance does not “count.” While we can always make a mindful choice to break a good habit, there are no magical freebies. A common example is when people overeat while on vacation and justify it by saying, “I’m on vacation, so this doesn’t count.” But the truth is, every single thing we do counts.
7. Questionable Assumption Loophole: “The label says it’s healthy.”
This loophole occurs when we make assumptions that influence our habits, often not for the better. For example, thinking that you need to eat a lot to get good value from a buffet, or that the label says it’s healthy. Identifying these assumptions and verifying the truth behind them is essential for making better decisions.
8. Concern for Others Loophole: “I can’t do this because it might make other people uncomfortable.”
We often tell ourselves that we’re acting out of consideration for others and making generous, unselfish decisions, or we decide we must do something to fit into a social situation. For example, eating cake at a birthday party, or drinking alcohol at a business dinner. Identifying this loophole and coming up with possible solutions is vital for establishing good habits.
9. Fake Self-Actualization Loophole: “You only live once! Embrace the moment!”
This loophole disguises itself as an acceptance of oneself, where we convince ourselves that not pursuing good habits is life affirming and almost spiritual. But most of the time, the real aim is to build habits that will make us happy in the long term. Sometimes that means giving up something in the present or demanding more from ourselves in the future.
10. One-Coin Loophole: “What’s the harm in doing this just once?”
This loophole is where you convince yourself that there’s no harm in indulging in something just once. However, one exception can quickly become two, three, or ten. This escalation can undo your efforts in establishing a good habit.
In summary, establishing good habits is critical for long-term success. However, creating new habits is not easy, and we often make excuses or loopholes that prevent us from following through with our goals. Understanding these loopholes is essential for overcoming them and establishing good habits that will improve our lives in the long run.