Have you ever noticed how easy it is to perform certain everyday functions without much effort?
For example, when you wake up in the morning, you might dreamingly find yourself in the bathroom and discover your teeth are almost finished being brushed before you actually become aware of it! Suddenly you wake up to the fact that you have the brush in your mouth!
Old habits are easy to do. They don’t require conscious effort.
But why is it so hard to create new habits and routines that serve our own personal good?
Getting stuck in old ineffective ways is easy to understand. That’s because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save energy and effort. Your brain is operating in “cruise control” most of your waking time. Neuroscientists have been studying this and we’ve learned some important things about creating new habits. Behaving consciously requires energy and effort.
For example, yes, you could be reading much more rapidly and effectively understanding the material. Or, it could be creating a regular exercise habit, or even better communication skills. But unless you’ve unlocked the secrets of creating a habit successfully, you’ve probably failed many times.
Are you stuck in behaviors that don’t serve you well? Are some of your behavioral habits working against your own best interest?
Perhaps one of the best psychologists to explain creating new habits from worthwhile skills was William James. To paraphrase him:
1. To create a new habit we must first make a “deep internal commitment” to whatever we can to learn and change the skill. Those are powerful words – “deep internal commitment.” How often have you done that when trying to learn something new?
2. Next, we take the first opportunity to use the new habit or skill. Basically this means use it or lost it! If you’ve taken our demo, for example, have you continued to apply the technique you learned? Have you started an exercise program and then taken a day or week off? That kind of approach does not create long term habits.
3. James concludes, “we allow no exceptions” until the habit if firmly embedded in our behavior.
The last step is really hard! Remember, our brain wants to cruise with little or no effort.
Examining the three points above you can see then, that creating better habits is both simple and hard. It’s hard work for us to navigate the world around us with conscious effort. But what’s the alternative? Do you want to stay stuck?
Coaching helps us get thru the times of our slacking. Other types of support can help with the motivational lows. So get some coaching help! We offer that in some of our programs.
The next post will reveal a powerful secret to helping you with the motivation aspect on how to be successful over the long haul to create new and effective habits.
What has been your experience successfully building new habits? Alternatively, what’s gotten in your way?