How to Have Your Cake and Eat it, Too: A New Way to Think About Guilty Pleasures
My friends all joke about my sweet tooth, but one thing I love more than dessert is life hacks. Getting the most out of an action, a meeting, an email, or a day gives me huge amounts of satisfaction, and I always look for new ways to accomplish more than I previously thought possible.
One thing in my life I hadn't figured out how to hack until recently was my guilty pleasures. With all of my productivity and decision-making ability directed toward work, when I was "off," I'd find myself at the mercy of my penchant for TV procedurals and baked goods.
Studies show that willpower alone probably wouldn’t kick these habits, so, I tried a different approach based on interesting new research : Using "I don't" language instead of "I can't." (Think: “I don’t watch reality TV on weeknights.”) It’s a subtle switch, but one that signals to your brain that not having or doing something is an active choice, not a rule imposed on you.
While this helped, I realized I wasn't trying to cut out the fun entirely—I just wanted a better way to think about my choices. In fact, I'm 100% OK with my guilty pleasures, so long as I’m making smart tradeoffs.
So, I took the idea of making a choice, but modified the rule to “I don’t do X unless I’ve done Y.” Or, in other words, "I only do X if I've done Y.” I can have my guilty pleasure, but only as a reward, after I’ve done something that I really want or need to accomplish. For example:
See? It’s a sneaky way to have your cake and eat it, too. The best part is, you can use this strategy for any goal.
Watching Your Budget? Try:
Trying to Kick a Social Media Addiction? Try:
Trying to Cook More? Try:
Stop saying no to your guilty pleasures, and start making smart tradeoffs. Life will be more fun—and more productive.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock and Thinkstock.
Alex is a Founder of The Muse, where she focuses on the product, engineering, and operations of the fast-growing business. Her book The New Rules of Work, written with her co-founder Kathryn, comes out in April 2017. Outside the office, Alex can be found on her road bike or deep in a book. She also loves productivity hacks more than candy.More from this Author