Rate Your Level of Craving

Stop bad habits.

Posted Dec 12, 2018

One way to manage impulsiveness or bad habits is to rate your level of craving – whether it be for food, a drug or alcohol, watching porn, or going gambling.

Identify how important it is to you to take an action before you do it. Let’s say you have a craving on the way to work to stop and get chocolate milk and doughnuts. Ask yourself, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do I really want chocolate milk and doughnuts?” You might be inclined to say 10, but in assessing it seriously, you may discover it was really only a 3—a fleeting impulse rather than a real desire or need. You may then consider more options: I can get a coffee and apple from the cafeteria when I get to work, or I can turn up the radio because my favorite song just came on, and so on. If it was higher on the scale, you could choose to take your lunch break at the grocery store to buy chocolate milk and doughnuts, or, recognizing that these aren’t the best food choices, you could make a plan to avoid future sugar cravings and crashes by preparing a healthy snack for yourself, which you can eat in the car on the way to work the next morning.

Choose one bad habit to monitor this week. In your journal or notebook, write this habit down and make a commitment to track it for one week. It could be anything you feel has a negative effect on your life: maybe it’s overeating, drinking, smoking, online shopping, gambling, checking social media all the time, playing video games, watching porn, or even something as simple as biting your nails.

Each time you have the urge, ask yourself, “On a scale of 1 to 10 how much do I really crave this?” The simple act of asking this question inserts a pause between the impulse and the action, thereby limiting impulsiveness. Rating the craving is also a form of mindfulness. You are observing the craving rather than “being” the craving. You might even take another step and spend a moment labeling the craving as “craving.” Putting a label on it can create even more distance between the impulse and the action. At the end of each day, return to your journal or notebook, and take notes about what occurred for you as you rated your cravings.

Excerpt from Brain Hacks: Life-Changing Strategies to Improve Executive Functioning will help you work smarter, stay focused and achieve your goals