Ever tried to build a new habit or break bad habits and failed not long after? Why is it so hard to make habits stick?
Forming habit is a conscious effort to rewire the brain to work against automation and form new behaviors that will later become habits.
And it is also a huge component of self-development, which makes a lot of sense since most of our day-to-day activities are based on habits. According to an Harvard Business Review interview with Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, (which is a great book btw, I highly recommend it to everyone!) “about 40% to 45% of what we do everyday sort of feels like a decision, but it’s actually habit.”
“about 40% to 45% of what we do everyday sort of feels like a decision, but it’s actually habit.” - Charles Duhigg
For instance, think of the first things you do when you wake up: for me, it’s brushing my teeth, washing my face, then skincare. Then I head over to the bedroom to make the bed. And I do all this without even thinking. Habit.
There are many habits we hope to adopt as part of our self-development journey - consistent workouts, healthy eating, being punctual, just to name a few.
But the journey of self-development is definitely no walk in the park. It requires so much discipline, time, and effort, and when we don’t see the results right away, we sometimes lose focus or give up altogether.
So today I wanted to share with you an easy habit-building tip for your self-development that will make sure your efforts won’t go to waste and your habits stick for a long time.
I also wrote about another habit-building hack in a previous post, and you can use that method in conjunction with what I’ll be sharing below!
Why do we give up?
One of the common reasons why we give up easily is because we get so excited to make all these changes from the beginning and end up overwhelming ourselves. How many of you have listened to a podcast on ‘how to be more successful’ or read blog posts on ‘how to lose weight’ and got excited to try out everything the very next day? I did, and I never succeeded. This is just a recipe for brain overload and burnouts. Not to mention, the awful guilt and shame you feel towards yourself for not pushing through. Yikes.
As you can see, this is very counterproductive.
As mentioned above, your brain is used to automation which is a whole lot more efficient. Your brain doesn’t have to work as hard and it can use the energy to do other things like your job, creative writing, cooking a meal, building an IKEA furniture, etc. Therefore, introducing new habits will take some time to stick, because your brain needs time to learn the behavior before it becomes a habit. So by doing all these new things you want to try, you are pretty much making your brain work too hard.
What to do
Then what should you do? Here’s a tip. Break it up and slowly add the layers.
Whatever habit you want to build, it’s important to plan out how you want to achieve it. Once you have the goal habit in mind, think of how you can break it into phases, with each phase slowly increasing in intensity as you get closer to the goal.
The first phase should always be the easiest. Whatever habit you want to form, try just a microdose of it for a period of time until you have become accustomed to it. This way you are slowly introducing the new habit into your life and not creating huge disruptions and chaos to your normal routine. Then take it up to the second phase with a slightly higher intensity until you have become accustomed to it. Continue onto the next phases as needed until you have formed the desired habit.
Let’s look at a real life example. For instance, let’s say your goal is to curb your sugar craving (breaking a bad habit). Instead of going cold turkey from day 1, start with something that’s more realistic. If you normally have dessert 5 times a week, you could start off by cutting down to having dessert twice a week. Trial it for a few weeks until you feel like your sugar cravings had decreased. Then for the next phase, have dessert once a week, and later to once every two weeks. That’s totally doable!
Habits will take some time to stick, but if you take the time to put a plan in place to guide you, it can yield great results. And the plus side of this method is that it’s efficient and wayyyy less painful because you will be working with your body, not against it.
AND most importantly, enjoy the journey! We tend to get so obsessed with achieving the end goal of our self-development journey that we often overlook the progress! Everything you do is building on to that end goal.
Do you think you’ll try out this habit tip? What are some habits you are working on at the moment?
Want more? Check out these posts:
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