Creating sustainable habits can take time. You may have heard that it takes 21 days to create a new habit, but in reality it can take less or more time. It depends more on what you’re changing and how you’re going about it.
For many, creating new habits is extremely difficult. For instance, every year most people make New Year resolutions, but according to Forbes magazine, only about 8% actually follow through. Are you one of the 8%, or the 92%?
There are several reasons why you may find it difficult to stick to your New Year resolutions, but here are four you may not have suspected.
First, you take on too much change all at once. Not only does your brain not like change, it will actually fight it. Your brain functions best when it can avoid making new decisions. Your habits and routines make it easy for your brain to conserve energy.
When you take on making several changes all at the same time, it’s often easy to forget that you are not only trying to create to new routines, but also stopping others. This causes your brain to have to exert more energy than it would like, and if you have a stressful day or find yourself having to make a lot of decisions, you will notice that you run out of Will Power and regress back into comfortable habits.
Second, your new habits don’t coincide with your current priorities. For instance, you want to lose weight and that requires you to hit the gym, but your priority is to get a promotion. When the two conflict, the priority wins. Instead of leaving work for the gym, you will stay at the office longer or work through lunch. You never had a chance of getting to the gym.
Even if you tell yourself that losing weight will make you more competitive for the new promotion, you will still choose to seek what appears to be the shortest route toward meeting your goal, working harder, longer.
Third, usually the new habit desired is based on a feeling of shame or a lack of confidence.
“If only I would lose weight, then others will respect me more or I will feel more confident at work.”
When addressing habit change from a place of insecurity, you give up your power to make the change. Any slip up can throw you off and make you feel like a failure. And when you feel like a failure, objectives seem unattainable making it easy to give up. You weren’t going to make it anyway, right?
Fourth, you have to let go of something in order to make room for the new. This is tough. No one likes to give up anything they like or are comfortable with. For instance, you enjoy snuggling up in bed for a few extra minutes in the morning. If the new habit is to get up and go for a run before work, then you have to give up that warm, comfy feeling of lounging in bed until the last minute.
It goes against your nature to give up something that you are comfortable, that you know is sage and makes you feel good. Especially if the new habit is going to cause you discomfort. It doesn’t matter if you know logically that the new habit is better for you in the long run, your emotional and instinctual brains will always encourage to stick with what you know and what you want “right now.”
Creating sustainable habits is doable, it just takes a bit more understanding and strategic planning than simply saying; “I’m going to do it this time.” To help you get started, enter your name and email in the box below and grab a FREE copy of 5 Steps for Creating Sustainable Habits.
As you look at where you are now and where you want to go, just know that it’s possible. If I can do it, you can too. If you want my support, post on my Facebook page, send me a message, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or schedule an appointment for a FREE Discovery Session to determine if group or individual coaching is right for you. Just know that it’s possible to feel better and be a more confident, functional you and you don’t have to do it alone.
Do you have a secret tips for creating sustainable habits? Share your experience and insights in the comments below and help others reach their goals.
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