If you could buy a better habit, how much would you spend on it?
I want to share a story that inspired me to break a bad habit recently.
I was sixteen when I first visited UK and I remember a conversation with a family friend telling his story about how he quit smoking.
He was a smoker for fifteen years and like many other smokers, he tried various ways with little to no success to give up smoking.
One day he heard of a local course that was advertised for smokers to help them quit with fairly high success rates, running over six weeks. It costed around £200 (in 1997 so that’s more than 20 years ago). He contemplated signing up. Since he really wanted to quit, he considered the course as an investment (in his health) and he began to mull over the various possibilities.
First, I asked myself: What if I succeed? Then it’s great, time and money spent well. Since it’s a lot of money to spend on a course, this itself should be enough motivation for me to keep going and to complete.
And, what if I fail? If I carry on smoking just like before, I have all the time wasted visiting a course and £200 goes out of the window that I will never get back.
The idea of somehow saving £200 was what made me to come up with a challenge.
What if I skip the course, AND quit smoking? I will have the money and time saved with 100% success. I wanted to prove myself that I can do it and so I just quit smoking.
His logical reasoning made me smile.
My friend got herself a personal trainer and she was telling me about the tough, but great sessions she started having. This made me think that I should get her personal trainer to work with me, too.
What’s my goal? – I asked myself. My goal is to run faster. I have been running (on and off) for twenty years, but my speed has not improved one bit over the last few years, and not even getting a smart running watch made me change that.
A personal trainer should be able to help me get out of this rut and I calculated a few hundred pounds to spend in a couple of months. I then envisioned booking sessions on the weekends, and to fit around his schedule (also location) to run laps while he is standing there watching his timer. Right, so I would still need to do the hard work, while spending my money, too. It’s not the easy way out, is it?!
For the first time I thought I will try to break my previous records without having someone watching me from behind. When I felt slowing down, instead I just started running faster. Though it wasn’t easy to do, it felt as simple as turning a little switch on in my mind. My timings have improved 2-3 minutes within a week, and I expect to complete my regular 8km (5 miles) run in 46 minutes (or less) before the end of this year.
What surprises me is that I never thought of doing this before. It only took me a little play with thoughts (from calculating how much I would spend on getting professional support and at the same time, wanting to save all that money… all the way to simply breaking out of the rut by myself). These are small, but concrete steps anyone can take to get themselves back in the game. If you are still reading this, I have a question for you, too.
How much would you spend on changing your bad habit? Whether it’s to quit smoking or increase the time you spend on getting/ staying fit, the key is in your hand. Changing how you think about the problem can slowly get you back on track.