On quitting things.

I've quit a lot of things over the last couple of years: coffee, Diet Coke, drinking, my BlackBerry, a few jobs and side gigs here and there... and the method that works best for me, I find, is treating myself like a child. I have a tendency to rationalize things—to be honest, I can probably rationalize just about anything—so the best way for me to deal with myself and all my bad habits is to make things as simple as possible. On any given day, my internal dialogue goes something like this:

Me: I want a coffee.
Me: No, you can't have one.

Me: I want a Diet Coke.
Me: No, you can't have one.

Me: Oh, doesn't that project sound fun?
Me: Stop it.

Me: I'd really love a cocktail right now.
Me: No, you can't have one.

I quit things best when it's all or nothing—i.e. I have to go cold turkey. Only problem is the one thing I need to quit the most—food—is something you can't go cold turkey on.

In the meantime, while I try to figure out the food thing, I've devised a simple system to convince myself to go to the gym. It's really obvious, actually, and I can't believe I haven't tried it before. What I've been doing is promising myself rewards for going. Like, last night after work all I wanted to do was hang out at home and watch a DVD. So I told myself that if I went to the gym, I could reward myself by watching a DVD.

It's not logical. Obviously, I'm an adult and if I want to watch a DVD, nothing's stopping me from watching a DVD. Watching a DVD isn't even a reward—not by a long stretch. But I just keep telling myself that: "If I go to the gym, I can reward myself by watching a movie." And it works.

Yup, that's my big tip to quitting things: talk to yourself like a child. The fact that it works for me is probably just a testament to how immature I am. Sometimes I suspect that I really still am just my 14-year old self on the inside.
"Observe Everything. Always think for yourself. Never let other people make important decisions for you." — from Bad News by Edward St. Aubyn