Whether you’re a Gretchen Rubin fan or not, you know exactly what loopholes mean in relation to habits. Simply put, loopholes are justifications for not sticking with habits.

In her latest book, Better than Before, Gretchen addresses the different strategies people can use to stay on track with their good habits.  She also talks a lot about the loopholes people use to avoid sticking to said habits.  This book is by no means a comedic read, but I still found myself cracking up as she described some of these loopholes!  Even though I’m a type A go-getter, I’ve put every single loophole she mentions to use at least once (if not a lot more!).

Loophole quote - Benjamin Franklin

I thought it would be fun to share the 10 categories of loopholes today along with examples of how I use them to get me out of sticking to my habits. Then in the comments, I want you all to share which ones you use the most and how.  It’s Friday…give me something fun(ny) to read!

Ok, here we go!  In no particular order…

1 — Moral licensing loopholeGiving yourself permission to do something “bad” because you’ve been “good.”
I use this one all the time when it comes to eating something sweet at the end of the day.  I always think, “Oh Parita, you’ve been so good today. You ate well.  You exercised.  You deserve [insert name of dessert].”

2 — False choice loopholeMaking an either/or decision with activities that are not necessarily in conflict.
For me this looks a lot like – “If I go to sleep early, I won’t get to spend time with Vishnu.”  Not true at all because there are plenty of ways to spend time together before 10 pm.

3 — Planning to fail loophole This is exactly as it sounds.  We arrange the situation in a way that makes it easy for us to succumb to the very thing we find irresistible.  
I use this one with ice cream in particular.  Every so often, I’ll buy a carton of my favorite ice cream thinking I’ll be able to resist eating it less than 48 hours.  After closing down the kitchen for the night and saying out loud that I’m done eating, I’ll go to the freezer just to see what’s in there.  Oh, I know what’s in there!

4 — Tomorrow loopholeIt doesn’t matter what you do now/today because the good habits start tomorrow.
I use this all the time when it comes to going to sleep on time.  I stay up late because tomorrow will be different.  Future Parita will be good and go to early!

5 — “This doesn’t count” loophole Saying something doesn’t count when you know you’re just making an exception.
Sound familiar – I’m on vacation, it’s the weekend, I don’t feel good…  Yep, I’ve used them all!

6 — Lack of control loopholeSaying that you don’t have control over a given situation when in actuality you have more control than you admit.
Once again, I use this all the time when it comes to sweet treats.  I say that I don’t have control around them, especially chocolaty things, when in fact I have more self-control than I admit.

7 — Concern for others loopholeDoing something to fit a social situation.
I used this one a lot during the holidays, especially when it came to all of the delicious food my MIL made.  I would tell myself that she would feel bad if I didn’t eat it.  Honestly, my MIL doesn’t care about stuff like that.  Saying that to myself made me feel better about eating it!

8 — Questionable assumption loophole Again, just as it sounds.  Making assumptions that influence your habits.
I use this one all day every day.  For example, if I have a meeting at 10 am, I usually don’t do anything productive between 9:50 and 10 because that’s obviously not the time to do something serious.  SMH!

9 — One-coin loopholeConvincing yourself it’s ok to break your habit because “what difference does this one time make.”
“What difference does one more glass of wine make?” <– Me when I’m around certain coworkers/friends!

10 — Fake self-actualization loopholeThis one comes disguised in the form of embracing life or accepting yourself.  
“You only live once.”  Said after every poor decision ever made!

Now it’s your turn!  Which of these do you use the most?  And obviously it’s ok to say all of them!

By Parita

3 thoughts on “10 Habit Loopholes and How I Use Them”
  1. Great post! I just finished listening to Better Than Before and really liked it! I use all of those all the time as well, especially when it comes to ice cream and sweets 🙂

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