Apparently it takes two weeks to break a habit. I’m not really sure how anybody comes up with these slightly random and yet suspiciously exact figures but there you go.
It is an attractive idea, somehow, to think about earmarking two weeks to eliminate some of my less appealing qualities. I could, in theory, be free of any bad habit I choose, if only I can do without it for two weeks. And what couldn’t I do without for two weeks? Not much, that comes to mind. Jesus if I can live without hot water for five days, as I’ve just done, I feel I can get through anything.
So brilliant, give me two weeks and I’ll be Kate 2.0: the same old Kate but better. I like it. The only question is what I should give up? The diet coke? The booze? Bulk book buying when I already have a huge ‘to read’ pile on the coffee table? Using my ipod as a sleep aid and ruining my hearing in the process? Perhaps the handful of other very bad habits I take great pains to conceal and have no intention of revealing now? Hmmm.
I was thinking about this last night, as I divided my time between a glass of wine and a can of coke, finalising my amazon.com order as I did it. There are many not-so-great-for-me things I do that I could, albeit with some pain, give up for two weeks. It wouldn’t be fun and I would miss doing them and maybe go a little bit mad but I’m sure I could make it through a fortnight.
But what about after that? If, as I’m told, the habit will be officially broken does that mean I’ll no longer have the desire for these things? Or merely that I will have broken my natural tendency to indulge in them but will have to continue to stop myself from slipping back into my bad old ways? The latter I fear and it sounds... shit. In fact even the first option sounds shite.
The catch to this whole two-weeks thing is that, although I have many bad habits and many things I wish I didn’t do… I don’t necessarily want to eliminate them. It’s like being a flipping alcoholic I suppose – you have to want to change. A cold can of diet coke may bring me brain tumours and tooth erosion but it also brings me a great deal of pleasure. Same for the booze. The books thing may drive me to the brink of ruin but it also surrounds me with piles of lovely books and makes me feel rather happy. And there are worse things to spend your money on than obscure Hungarian novels and Saudi Arabian chick-lit.
The other habits I didn’t quite mention are probably mildly self destructive but they are also part of who I am. What would I be like if I didn’t spend too much time on the internet, overanalyse things to death and obsess over things I shouldn’t? How would I cheer myself up if not with a new book and a bottle of wine? What other bad habits would I have to develop to fill the void? And, then, how many weeks would I have to devote to eliminating those bad habits? That road leads to ruin, I say, best to quit (or not) while you're ahead and try to conceal your many repugnant habits from those around you. By not blogging about them, ideally.