Day 22--Why You Need Rules

Welcome to Day 22!

The Freedom Galaxy sounds wonderful, but all that freedom might be too much for some people. Look at Cadet Davis. That guy is always using your equipment and never cleans off the moondust off of his rover. He always has an excuse too! You wish he’d follow the rules like everyone else.


INTRODUCTION

What is a Loophole?

Because the Assistant (sub-conscious part of your brain) is lazy and wants more pleasure and to avoid pain, she will want to get out of the habits that you’ve worked hard to train.

Also, if there is a special occasion or something that throws off her normal routine, the Assistant is going to come up with justifications for "bad" behavior. 

Gretchen Rubin, the author of the book, Better Than Before, calls the rationalizations that the Assistant makes to get out of habits—loopholes. She defines loopholes as, “an argument for why we should be excused from following a good habit.”

The loophole is thrown out by the Assistant as a spur of the moment justification to get out of the habit (she wants to be lazy.) And in typical Assistant brain style, this justification “flits through your mind” just on the edge of your consciousness.


Ten Kinds of Loopholes

There are ten loopholes that your Assistant may try to use against you. Any (or all of them) sound familiar?

Some loopholes that I hear a lot around the Holidays are Concern for Others, False Choice, Moral Licensing, and This Doesn't Count loopholes.

  • Concern for Others--I should eat these cookies my neighbor brought by. She put a lot of time into making these.

  • False Choices--I can either eat what I want, or not enjoy Christmas at all.

  • Moral Licensing--I was so good because I didn't eat the Christmas cookies in the break room. I deserve to get this special holiday candy at the supermarket.

  • This Doesn't Count--This is a special snack that I make every Christmas. It doesn't count as a Dessert Day Food.


Set Boundaries to Stop the Loopholes

Because the Assistant uses loopholes to justify bad behavior, you have to make very clear rules for her—just like you would for your teenager. You can’t tell your teen, “Your curfew is 11:00,” and not really mean it. 

If you do, she’ll sense your weakness. Then all the loopholes will come out. “It was Jenny’s birthday, so I had to stay later. I lost track of time. We were helping Madison with her problems, etc.” 

You have to tell your teen, ”Your curfew is 11:00. You be home by then or no going out again for the next month.” Clear boundaries stop the arguments and stop the loopholes.

Use Rules for Boundaries

The way that we set boundaries for the Assistant to stop rationalizations and excuses is a rule. A rule is a set course of action that the Assistant should take. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

There are two types of rules that I teach: Bright Line Rules and Jump Through Hoops Rules. We'll learn what these rules are and how to make them tomorrow.

 

THE LESSON

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How to NOT do Something

The past two weeks we've been focusing on habits. We've learned how to make our habits small, how to progress slowly with them, and how to make them positive and enjoyable.

And, now we're going to talk about what to do when habits don't work. Because how does don't work all the time. Habits don't work when we're trying NOT to do something. You can't make a habit to not do something.

The other time when habits don't work is when it's not something we do every day. You can't make a habit if it's something that just comes up occasionally. And, that's when we want to use our rules and strategies.

So what is a rule?

Got Loopholes?

Well, because our Assistant (sub-conscious brain) is kind of like a teenager, she needs boundaries. She needs rules or she comes up with a lot of rationalizations or loopholes as to why she needs more pleasure, less pain, and to be more lazy. She'll come up with things. And if you look below, I've got (a pdf with) 10 loopholes or rationalizations she tries to use on us.

One of them is called the concern for others. “Well, I need to eat this plate of Christmas cookies because I care about my friend, and she made them for me.” That could be a rationalization that she might throw out at you.

Another one is moral licensing. “Well, I was so good yesterday when I went to that party that I deserve this today.” Or, “I went on a run so I deserve a cookie.”

Those are different loopholes, and there's 10 listed below. Read them over and see if there's any that ring a bell for you. We want to keep the Assistant from rationalizing because we might not make any progress otherwise.

Rules and Strategies

One little rationalization. It's not a big deal, but your Asisstant will try as many as she can. So that's why we use our rules and strategies.

When do we use a rule? A rule is for when something happens just once here or there or we need to keep from doing something. That's when we use a rule.

There are two rules that I'm going to teach you to make. The first is called Bright Line Rules and the second one is called Jump Through Hoops roles. I know they sound intriguing. We'll talk about them tomorrow—what each one is and when to use them.

And then the other thing that we're going to learn another week is strategies. So, strategies are a little bit more complex. This is when you have to employ a couple of different habits and different rules—a couple of different ways to minimize temptations for things like holiday strategies or dessert strategies. 

We'll also talk about how to make other kinds of strategies like weekend strategies and holiday strategies. And then you might decide on specific one just for you that are personalized according to your circumstances in your life.

So, some of my clients in the past have had a Travel for Work Strategy. Other people have a Going to Grandma's House Strategy. I personally have one about hospitals because my youngest has been in the hospital quite a few times.

So, we get to personalize things and make them according to whatever needs are in our lives.

Your Assignment

So check over those Loopholes or rationalizations (below). See which ones that your Assistant has been throwing out at you. And, then tomorrow we'll talk about rules. And after that we'll talk about strategies. See you then.

Mission Freedom!

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