In my bestselling book, Better Than Before, I identify the twenty-one strategies of habit-formation, and one is the Strategy of Loophole-Spotting.
I love studying loopholes, because they’re so funny. And ingenious! We’re such great advocates for ourselves — in any situation, we can always think of some loophole to invoke.
Well, what is a “loophole?” When we try to form and keep habits, we often search for loopholes, for justifications that will excuse us from keeping this particular habit in this particular situation. However, if we catch ourselves in the act of loophole-seeking, we can perhaps reject them.
The Tomorrow Loophole is a favorite. It always works, because, as Little Orphan Annie reminds us, “tomorrow is always a day away.”
This loophole depends on “tomorrow logic.” Now doesn’t matter much, because we’re going to follow good habits tomorrow.
It doesn’t matter what I eat now, because I’m starting a diet tomorrow. (Research shows that people who plan to start dieting tomorrow tend to over-eat today.)
I’m definitely on track to finish my paper on time, because starting tomorrow, I’m really going to buckle down.
I’ll be really frugal in January so it doesn’t matter if I spend too much in December.
Today I’m eating whatever I want, but tomorrow I’ll be “good.” (People tend to self-regulate day-by-day, but everything counts.)
How about you? Do you find yourself arguing that it’s okay to do something today, because you’ll act differently tomorrow?
Gretchen Rubin is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Happiness Project—an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier—and the recently released Happier at Home and Better Than Before. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness. For more doses of happiness and other happenings, follow Gretchen on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of BRUNO CERVERA.