I confess, sometimes I’ve been asked “How’s the ‘XYZ’ resolution going?” (fads include Clear Inbox or Bed by 10 etc.) and I’m forced to implement the “I’m OK” smile, declaring everything was going supremely well, easy, fantastic results already.
Reality was that my resolve had gone down faster than Eeyore’s balloon in a firing range. Work crushed any semblance of control, change was consigned to history.
Why is changing habits the traditional way so HARD?
Let’s take a common example: “No more Chocolate”. This desire for change will be driven by some form of motivation e.g. “I want to look thinner”.
This time we’re going to stick with it, excited about alternatives our motivation is high. We’re driven by pleasure (fitting new Christmas clobber) or pain (dentist, health) however ‘motivation’ gets exhausted over time.
When motivation runs out, determined folk resort to willpower. But that’s a resource that gets used up too. Uni. of Albany research shows resisting repeated temptations is mentally draining. Like a muscle exhausted from overuse.
Our brain is a high consumer of glucose. Tests found lower glucose levels in people who had to repeatedly exert self-control, sapping their willpower. Like a car stops with an empty tank.
A day filled with things we don’t want to do drains our limited reserve of willpower, it’s genuinely hard work, tiring, underlined by survey results (Uni. of Scranton) showing just 8% of people setting habit changing goals achieve them.
Rewire the brain to get good ideas back on track
Everyone has a bad habit or two. Is it easy to stop them? For the more embedded habits the answer is ‘NO’! Wouldn’t it be rewarding to have that resilience applied to great habits instead?
We mustn’t make it hard for ourselves by fighting entrenched habits. Form new habits by comforting our brains that little change is taking place. Try these tips:
- Little Steps – Start with boring goals. Our subconscious hates big change (Fear, Flight, Fight) creating resistance. Make 10 New Business Calls as your early target not 100.
- Commit – Believe in your goals, don’t set any to please others
- ‘Triggers’ – Any smoker will tell you how powerful Triggers are! After breakfast, 20 mins on LinkedIn? Visual triggers e.g. Car Keys next to Business Cards?
- Preparation – Create call lists the day before. Fuel in car? Correct tools for the job?
- Convenience – Clear clutter, ability to make noise if required.
- Have Fun – Decrease resistance by increasing pleasure! Consequence or Reward with a partner?
- Don’t break sequence – Visually keep goals In View. Mark daily achievements with a big cross, number in a box etc.
Do something often enough, it becomes a habit. Probably how our bad habits started in the first place and look how robust they are!
Change is hard, taking 66 days on average to develop a new habit
The good news is, it may not too late to revisit the ‘wobbly’ ones!