In my new (bestselling) book, Better Than Before, I identify the twenty-one strategies of habit-formation, and one is the Strategy of Loophole-Spotting.
I’m doing a video series in which I discuss the ten categories of loopholes. I love studying loopholes, because they’re so funny. And ingenious! We’re such great advocates for ourselves — in any situation, we can always think of some loophole to invoke.
Well, what is a “loophole?” When we try to form and keep habits, we often search for loopholes, for justifications that will excuse us from keeping this particular habit in this particular situation. However, if we catch ourselves in the act of loophole-seeking, we can perhaps reject them.
Fourth of ten loopholes: The “this doesn’t count” loophole. One of the most popular loopholes.
Here are some popular “this doesn’t count” assertions:
I’m on vacation.
What are weekends for?
It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet.
I ate it off a child’s plate.
My wine glass wasn’t full.
This is a just one-time thing. (Samuel Johnson observed, “Those faults which we cannot conceal from our own notice, are considered, however frequent, not as habitual corruptions, or settled practices, but as casual failures, and single lapses.”)
I ordered it for both of us, which means you’re eating half, even if I eat the whole thing.
We’re adults, and we can make mindful exceptions to our good habits — but that’s different from insisting that something “doesn’t count.” (If you want to read about how to make exceptions, look here — all about my friend’s brilliant “pie policy.”)
The truth is, everything counts. Nothing stays in Vegas.
Do you find yourself arguing that something doesn’t “count?” When?