Hijack your Facebook habit with a book-reading habit

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Bad habits are hard to break. But, you can hijack your habits to turn those bad habits into good ones.

Habits begin with a Trigger, which then leads to an Action, which then leads to a Reward. Over time, you build your Investment. The cycle repeats.

Nir Eyal illustrates this well with his Hooked model.

Let’s say you have a bad habit of checking Facebook. You check it even when you just checked it 3 minutes ago.

You feel the Trigger — probably a tingle of anxiety or boredom, which gets you to check Facebook (Action). Sometimes you get some likes or comments (Reward). Your friend connections, posts, photos, etc. are the Investment that keeps you coming back.

Let’s say you’d rather have a habit of reading books, instead of checking Facebook. Here’s how you’d hijack your bad Facebook habit, and turn it into a good reading habit.

  • Reduce friction. For this particular habit, there’s something that blocks you from enjoying books the way you read Facebook. Opening a book feels like a big commitment. You can talk yourself out of it if you only have a few minutes to spare. So, you need to give yourself permission to read tiny chunks of books.
  • Hijack your Trigger. Every time you feel your Facebook Trigger, instead of reaching for your mobile device, grab a book. It’s best if it’s a physical book at first, because a mobile device is too tempting. If you have to use a mobile, rearrange your icons so Facebook is hidden, and Kindle is prominent.
  • Replace your Action. Now, read the book! To start, just pick a page in the book and start reading. Remember, you have to eliminate any friction that makes you think a book is too big of an investment. Daily Rituals is a good book to start with, because it has lots of small sections. Dangerous Liaisons, if you prefer fiction.

If you commit to trying this for a week, your relationship with reading books will start to change. You may find yourself opting to read books, instead of checking social media. If you build an Investment in reading books, you’ll do more reading.

If you really have a lot of trouble managing a bad Facebook habit, you may want to try a few electric shocks from a Pavlok. It worked for me.

By reducing friction preventing you from building good habits, and hijacking your bad habits, you can build a life full of healthy habits.

Hat tip to Naval Ravikant, who discussed a similar philosophy on Tim Ferriss’s podcast.

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