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 crafts plans to conquer the world one feature at a time. In her spare time, Alex can be found on her road bike or tracking down the best froyo in New York City. She also loves productivity hacks more than candy.More from this Author