This might sound awfully a lot like a post from those self-help blogs, and yep, I do read sites like zenhabits from time to time ^^; But I figured out a way to ‘create’ and ‘break’ habits that so far works for me.
Basically, to create a habit, ideally you want to do it everyday, but when time’s come to skip it, either because you really don’t feel like doing it on that day, you’re not feeling well or you really have no time at all, you just have to avoid skipping it two days in a row. So it’s okay to skip a day as long as you ensure you don’t skip on the next day.
To break a habit, ideally you want to avoid doing it everyday, but when time’s come to do it, either because you are really craving for it, you need to relieve yourself from stress or you are ‘cornered’ in social situations, you just have to avoid doing it two days in a row. So it’s okay to do it as long as you don’t do it again the next day (you can do it again the next next day if you really want).
The rules might be simple but under the surface, this is a system with various ‘subtle design’ and ‘mind tricks’, like how being okay to skip a day is a safety net that prevents you from thinking that your plan has come to a failure just because you fail to do the habit on one day (and the reverse is true for breaking the habit).
It’s also a gentler way of breaking a habit because for one, you’re not ‘giving it up forever’. As the saying, ‘once in a while is okay’. The reverse is true for creating a new habit, where you can always have ‘a day off’.
Another way of looking at it is that when you do something two days in a row, it’s ‘becoming a pattern’, whereas failing to do something for one day is just a ‘one-off thing’.
The fact that you have to remember whether you did (or did not do it) the previous day is also making you more mindful to the action.
Also notice something’s interesting; the ‘worst’ of creating and breaking habit under this rule is the same; it’s doing (or not doing) it every other day.
I can go on with more reasons, but yeah, I don’t feel like writing a book full of supporting ideas, anecdotes and feel-good sentences just to suggest that it can/might also work for other people :p