by Kathie England

Better Than Before – Day 32

Desire, Ease, and Excuses

Gretchen Rubin begins the next section of Better Than Before with these words: “The Strategies of Abstaining, Convenience, and Inconvenience examine how we can shape our habits by adjusting the amount of effort involved. Safeguards, Loophole-Spotting, and Distraction address the challenges of failure and temptation. Reward, Treats, and Pairing focus on exploiting pleasure to strengthen our good habits.”

As I wrote this introduction, the word effort reminded me of the book Mindset by Carol Dweck. Dweck, a world-renowned psychologist at Stanford University, talked about two types of mindsets – fixed and growth. The key to developing a growth mindset is to recognize how important effort is. Individuals with a fixed mindset shy away from effort believing that if they were really ______ enough (fill in that blank), then no effort would be required and they give up. Those with a growth mindset embrace effort to achieve their goals and they persevere.

I thought this perspective about effort was important to keep in mind as we explore more strategies for creating the habits we want to replace those that undermine us.

The next chapter in this section of Better Than Before focuses on abstaining. Rubin proposes that there are two strategies associated with abstaining. There are Abstainers (who “do better when they follow all-or-nothing habits”) and Moderators (who “do better when they indulge moderately”).

She acknowledged that she is an Abstainer because it is far easier for her to give up something altogether than to indulge moderately. This awareness lead her to recognize the distinction between abstaining completely and indulging moderately. This perspective has profound implications for how we develop habits.

Tomorrow I’ll continue the discussion of how your self-awareness about whether total abstinence or moderate indulgence is more effective for you.