First, teenage years are a minefield when it comes to bad habits.
You contest the “wisdom” of elders, experiment, and try to find your own ways.
You have very little clue what real responsibility is and a lot of times you succumb to many temptations of human nature.
You follow the path of least resistance because it’s soooooo pleasurable.
Second, it’s impossible to quit bad habits.
Once a habit forms in your brain, you can only remove it with a lobotomy. You can reprogram a habit or avoid it, but you cannot get rid of it.
Well, reprogramming is as far as it goes for quitting a habit. But it is a very hard job:
How Habits Work — Charles Duhigg
So, like most of us, I had plenty of bad habits in my youth. For example, I developed a gaming habit with which I struggled for almost two decades.
I haven’t played a computer game on my own for the last eight years (sometimes, I played with my kids). But I didn’t quit this habit. I simply put walls between the habit and me. I have no game on my computer. My schedule is full of quite engaging activities without adding hours of gaming.
Another example: an excessive fiction reading.
When I was 10–14 years old, I read about 1–3 books a day, every single day. Most of them were fiction. A reading habit in itself is quite positive, but one aspect of it turned out to be very nasty.
Whenever I put my hands on an interesting book, I cannot stop reading till I finish the book. When you are 15 and school is your only responsibility, it wasn’t such a hurdle.
But man! When you are a grown-up with family, kids, and a day job, this is a VERY bad habit. I could read to 4 AM and then woke up at six for work.
By no means, I quit this habit. I’m avoiding good fiction books like a plague. I don’t buy new ones. I don’t ask around for recommendations. I don’t search for them on Amazon.
Yet still, when I lay my hands on a good book, I put my whole life on hold to finish the book. It happened about a couple dozen times in the last eight years, since I decided to change my life, and severely restricted any escapism-like activities. But I still struggle with this nasty habit.
Be careful with your habits, especially as a teenager. You develop them for life. It takes a lot of effort to rebuild or avoid them in the future. Listen to your elders ;)
Originally published on Quora.