WTF is Habit Programming?

Improving yourself is damn hard and takes a lot of time. It’s about figuring out how you work and learning how to learn. And the best way to learn it to organize and categorize your thoughts, feelings and actions. And today I came up with something I call Habit Programming. It’s something I’ve been doing for a while, but I just figured out it is its own thing.

What is Habit Programming You Ask?

Let’s start at the beginning. You have a goal you want to reach. We wouldn’t need goals if they were easy to reach, otherwise we’d just do them. So we need to break down goals into manageable units called habits.

So if you want to go on a big vacation at the end of the year, you need to save money. So easy, you just reserve a chunk of your paycheck to saving it for the trip. Problem is you like spending money on things you don’t really need. So now you have to figure out why you buy stupid things.
So next time you’re at the cash register paying for something you don’t need you suddenly have a epiphany. Buying something new fills an emptiness inside your soul. So you make note of this. Having an empty soul makes me want to spend money. That is what I call Habit Programming.
Next time you go shopping because your soul feels empty you take a walk around the block to subdue that feeling.
The next paycheck you realize you have fewer bills to pay. So you decide to go spend the difference because, eh, it’s free money. But after you’re spend the money you feel bad because you could have saved it. So you take note of that for the next time you get paid.

The trick is to be able to catch yourself at that exact moment you realize you’ve made the mistake. And then write it down the your habit journal you decided to start using.

But what I decided to do different with habit programming is to write down my note with a strong key word. Trying to remember all these notes is hard. But the brain is capable of quickly retrieving information based on contextual keywords.
So I would write down my habit programming note like below:

Soul Crushing – Don’t spend money on stupid things.
Free Money – Don’t spend free money, save it.

But for the above to work, you need to write it down with a pen/pencil to paper. Read it back loudly. Speak it out loud if needed.

You may think that the above is a bit hard to remember. So I might decide to add a third line for those other times I try to spend money on stupid things.

Soul Crushing – Don’t spend money on stupid things.
Free Money – Don’t spend free money, save it.
25 dollars – Spend no more than twenty-five dollars on stupid things.

The above three lines would usually keep me going for a while until I find something else that I need to add to the list to save money. Before you know it in an attempt to implement a good habit, you’ve vanquished a bad one.

I have been doing this habit programming thing for a year and it really works for me. It takes time and effort. But I find that it helps a lot towards achieving my goals. At first, it was really hard to figure out those triggers and correct them. But over time I became a lot better at pointing them out and writing them down. And before you know it, it becomes a challenging game.

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