I’ve mentioned this before but let’s start with the basics. What is habit forming like? When we form habits the brain stops working as hard to make us achieve a task. That is why we might forget how we got to work or whether or not we locked the door. Brains just go on autopilot.
That is also an issue when you are trying to stop doing something and change it to a good thing, e.g stop eating too much junk food and eat something healthy instead. For our brain, it is easier to just fall back into the old routine of getting a burger from BurgerKing after work rather than going to the store to buy healthy alternatives and actually making food.
So what do we do that makes us fail at forming new habits, even if we take into account how the brain forms these habits?
We try to achieve all our new dream habits at once.
- I will go to the gym five times a week
- I’ll never eat a burger in my life, ever
- I will start getting A*’s on all my exams
That is just not realistic. First of all most of habits have many steps to them. If you want to lose weight, you must start exercising, eating healthy and if you are very serious probably start counting macros and maybe doing food prep. That is four habits (if you are going really hardcore) that you want/have to change. It won’t all happen in one night. So if on top of that you have 50 other habits with each of them having 2-3 sub-habits. Boy, are you in for hell! And you will fail. Trust me, been there done that.
The more you do in a day that will cause you resistance, the more likely you are to give up after say 2 hours. This issue also ties into trying to change a huge thing in your life like the example of losing weight; it is technically just one goal. But if you have never climbed a mountain you wouldn’t start your goal by climbing Mount Everest. So why do that with your habits?
If we are only thinking about the outcome, we will never be motivated by the process. You will not change your life around in one day. And some days you will probably not do anything towards your goal and that will suck. It is the reality though. If you are only waiting to see how your life is magically transformed, you will never reach your goal, because you feel defeated before you properly get started.
We assume that just because some change in our life is small. It doesn’t matter. But big things are made up of many small things. If you make sure to always take the stairs, you will have better health even if it’s just a little bit. Writing one page from a 10-page essay means that you have less to do later. Both of those are small changes but they make a difference. So going to the gym only once a week doesn’t make you weak, just because Becky can do it 5 times a week. It just means you aren’t in the same place as her. (And let’s be honest here, she probably just lifts her phone to take insta pictures and that isn’t working out properly)
What if we have an issue deciding what it is that we want to do? Well, try picking a keystone habit. This is a habit that makes it easier to change other habits after you have mastered it. For example; Doing sports. Becoming active will ensure that you are more healthy and thus have more energy and quite often that can mean better results at school or being able to wake up earlier and that way you can get more done in a day. This could also be drinking water, getting better sleep or eating healthier.
One more thing. You must choose one habit you concentrate on. But that doesn’t have to be the only thing you do. I am right now working on waking up at 5.30. (I swear I’m not insane, I will just have a hella busy summer) Anyway, just because that is my goal. Doesn’t mean I don’t do anything else for the rest of the day. I am also working on not being on social media so much and trying to study better during the day. But if there is one thing I want to achieve in each day (the minimum) it is to wake up at 5.30.
Since I am on the journey to change my life, changing habits is a very interesting and important for me right now. While I was searching for information for this blog post I stumble on these sites. How they give you more information if you need it:
As always, thank you for reading. Don’t forget to leave a comment. What did you think of this blog post and what would you like to hear next.