Extrapolate over time
A small indulgence today could be okay. It could also be a significant erosion of an important personal standard. How to tell which is which?
Say I allowed myself to watch 30 min more of insightful videos on YouTube every day (may not be a conscious decision). Half an hour might not be that bad in any given day, no? What if they are fun?
But over a period of a year, that extra 30 min becomes 182.5 hours of time. More than a week that could have been spent elsewise. Good conversations. Productive work. Creative breakthroughs. Exercise. Walks in the woods.
This extrapolation of a daily behavior over time works like a cognitive magnifying glass.
I can look at my time allocation in a day, ask: If I were to have the same day over and over again, where would I be in a year? And I can examine the individual components of the day and do the same. The answers might be sobering.
But if left unchecked, the pernicious habits can win just by requiring the least effort.
Habits unsustainable over time have to be altered or short-circuited.
What do the things you do bring you over time? Is there a different activity that would be more meaningful and rewarding?
Magnify the cost of the bad habit with extrapolation over time to move yourself forward.