How to Adopt New Habits

When you do something on autopilot, without giving it much thought, you are in the domain of “I don’t know how to do it”, the so-called Competent Unconscious. It’s like driving, you go home-work-home without sometimes realizing what happened on the road. This is called a habit.

In For A Penny, In For A Pound

When you try to change a habit, you wish too fast and too much. Take for an example the New Year’s Resolutions – “this year I will lose 40 pounds”, or “this year I will workout every single day”, or “this year I will quit smoking”, or yet “this year I will be more present to my family and leave work at decent hours”.

Taking any of these examples, you can easily find moments when, for one reason or another, it will be impossible to comply. A peak of stress demands for a cigarette smoke; or you get sick and then you can’t workout for a week.

You reach the feeling of “failure” too quickly.

And, when you are already failing, there goes “in for a penny, in for a pound”, and back to the good old habits, your comfort zone.

These changes cause PAIN. That is why it is hard to change something. You have to leave your comfort zone, and head to unknown territory, you will feel the pain of change until you reach the other side of the storm, and there you experience PLEASURE. And that takes time…

I Need Motivation, What Can I Do?

We all need to have something to help us to surpass that painful phase and the “failure” feeling.

Start to define well what is your real intention

It is really important to know why you want to change. Let me invite you to read a little be more about it in this post.

Start using the verb TO BE on every change you want to make

“I will be more healthy this year”, or “I will be more active this year”, or yet “I will be more present for my family”.

Yes, truth be told, this seems that your change will be even bigger, wide and less objective. But it is also true that now you have some space to maneuver. If by any chance you are not allowed to leave work at the time you thought possible, you are not failing. If by any chance you get sick and need to skip a couple workouts, you are not failing.

You want to change your IDENTITY, your BEING.

Build your “Support Group”

In that support you will bring people whom will ask for your accountability on your success (or failure), and also people who inspires you to your change.

People around you, do you believe it or not, will have some influence on you – chose wisely whom you want to have next to you!

And celebrate!!!

Celebrate every vitory, for how small they may be.

Take notice that the keywords are “small victories“, therefore just have on your mind to improve 1% by each time.

You do not need to wait several months to celebrate your winnings.

If you already lost 10 pounds, celebrate. Who cares if you still have 30 pounds to drop. Certainly it already shows in your sillhouette. So, that baggy sweatshirt (which are even baggier), to the trash with it. Time to buy something more fit to your body.

You need to have some sort of compensation on your new habit.

That means that even “bad” habits have compensation?

So it seems.

Every habit occurs through a cycle. All starts with a stimulus, a signal that informs you brain that it should initiate a behaviour. Let’s use as an example a moment of peak stress.

You then move on to the wish phase. You wish to change from that stress state. Your brain will find solutions to enable that emotional change switch.

When you already know what to do, here comes the wishes response phase, meaning, the behavior you will perform. In the above example, easily to say that you may go for a smoke or for a chocolate bit. Sweets and nicotine are related with relaxing of moments of happy partying. Our brain want us to change to that relaxing state.

In fact, if eating a chocolate bar will make you feel more relaxed, even for a short period of time, that will function as your reward.

James Clear, the author of “Atomic Habits” states that, a behavior always needs a stimulus, a wish and a response. But for that to become a habit, it is mandatory to exist a reward.

But Why’s That So Hard?

The suggestion of a chocolate as a stress reliever instead of some physical activity, or a movie marathon with a popcorn bucket in a couch instead of a trekking on some countryside in a cold day, is no coincidence – your brain will chose the easiest and more pleasures path.

Your brain wants to rid you from all evil, wants to avoid everything that may cause you some PAIN. That’s why changes are so hard, but never forget that after a storm there is always a beautiful calm, with lots of PLEASUROUS moments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *