And why we often fail!
Do you sometimes find it hard to get out of your comfort zone?
Do you procrastinate about changing habits even though it is plainly obvious that giving up bad habits would be really good for you? Giving up smoking, eating more healthily, exercising more or losing weight would improve your life but often, even knowing that, we still resist.
Change can be good for us, especially when we have got into a bad habit or a rut. But how often do we fail to start the process of change, or even if we start, we fail to continue or actually achieve the change we desire. Why is that?
For me I think that sometimes it is because I see it as too big a challenge! I know this from experience as in the past, when I have decided to change a habit I am really driven to start with. I aim high and start big! I overdo it, try to change too much too quickly. Not a good sign. I’m setting myself up to fail already!
What was it my mother always used to tell me? “Little steps lead to greater progress.” And I remember once my dad told me an old Chinese proverb, “The man who moved the mountain began by carrying away small stones.”
But do I listen? NO!
Why do I rush at changing a habit like a bat out of hell?
I think it is because I am impatient! I want quick results, preferably now, or if not now, then pretty quickly, like tomorrow, maybe next week, but definitely not next month!
But, as sure anything, because of this, I will fail. I will put too much effort into it too quickly and will soon get fed up, become demoralised and burn out. And I know I am guilty of having committed most of the 7 Deadly Sins we should avoid when it comes to changing habits!
So, what are those sins?
Changing Too Much
I know I often set huge goals which then turn out to be unrealistic or even not achievable at all! Are you trying to change too many habits or too much in one go? Sometimes changing too much at once can overwhelm us. For example, if you wanted to give up smoking and drinking, then perhaps this may just be too much of a shock to the system. Try to decide on one thing to change at a time, otherwise it can become too daunting. Then really focus your efforts on this one area. Or even, break a larger change down into smaller chunks, cutting down on something, before cutting it out altogether, to make it more easily achievable.
Changing Too Quickly
Trying to change a habit too quickly can also lead to inevitable downfall. It takes practice and repetition to change a habit, so It is unreasonable to expect results tomorrow or next week. Not if you are wanting permanent change. Set a realistic time frame and don’t be afraid reassess this and to alter it if you need to. There is also a rule that I think is true and a very good guide to follow, the 21/90 rule. This says it takes 21 days to get into a habit but 90 days to truly make that change a lasting lifestyle change. So even when you think you have cracked it - keep going to make it permanent.
I know when I want to change something or start something new, firstly I invest copious amounts of time and effort into finding out about it. I Google it, look for books or courses on the subject, watch self-help videos. I research the best way to do it, look at what others have done. And actually, what I am doing is dipping my toe into the water, thinking I am doing something, but in reality, I’m doing nothing! Getting started is more important than succeeding. After all, if you get started then it is possible to succeed. But no one can be successful if they don’t start. I know that now!
Yes, this is another thing I know I’ve done. Well, that should be a positive thing shouldn’t it? A good incentive to work towards. Yes! It should be! But rewarding myself with a bar of chocolate after losing 3lbs this week isn’t actually the best reward. And I’m not the only one who does this. I know! Rewarding yourself appropriately and in a positive way is good, but perhaps something that will not undo all your efforts! Think of a few small rewards that you can earn at small stages along the way and perhaps a larger treat when you have achieved your goal. But not something that will sabotage it!
Be Clear on Your Reason Why
Sometimes I’ve found that I haven’t been really clear on my reason for wanting to break or change a habit. I know if we want something to happen, that initial want alone can be a great incentive to start, but it is important to really know your motive. Know what it will really mean to you when you have made that change. You need to have a really good reason “Why” to help you overcome the obstacles and stay on track. It is your reason “Why” that will motivate you! And if you don’t have a good enough one, then you will probably give up at the first hurdle.
Track Your Progress and Be Consistent
This has often been a downfall of mine. If I don‘t know where I am up to or how well I’ve done, how can I know if I am succeeding? It is really important to track what you are doing, so you can see your progress and how far you have come since you started. And it is so important to track how consistent you are in your efforts. Take small consistent steps. Track your Progress. Acknowledge just how far you have come. And keep going. This omission inevitably leads to the final deadly sin!
If you really want to break a habit, then don’t give up. But you should find that if you have made sure you don’t commit any of the other deadly sins, then this will not be an option. And I know even if you are like me, you have procrastinated about changing habits, or if you are fearful of change in some way, that you can overcome these fears too.