You’ve got a habit, one that you no longer want.
Logically you know that it’s detracting from your heath and logically you know what you need to do instead.
Despite what you know to do and how much you want to change, you still have a hard time following through.
Willpower, control, and negative motivation work…for a while…and then you’re back to happy hours instead of the gym or cake instead of quinoa.
What gives? Here’s two reasons why changing a habit is challenging:
1. You get a twisted benefit from the habit
You have linked a subconscious ‘benefit’ to your habit and of course it’s not really a benefit at all. A smoker may subconsciously associate calmness to their habit (and ironically smoking is a stimulant.)
2. Your brain loves automation
Your brain loves habits and doesn’t give one shit what the habit is as long as it can automate it and save energy. Our brains love the path of least resistance.
Here’s what you need to know and do to make habit change easy:
Leave logic behind
95% of what you do everyday is not based on logic! Yes, 95%! The much larger part of your mind ‘thinks’ through associations, sensory experiences, and repetition so…
Create a new and strong association and experience that mimics the same ‘benefit’ you were getting with old habit
Here's a smoking example...
If you want to stop smoking and you associate smoking with being calm you need to start associating a new habit with being calm and start experiencing it with an open mind (vs trying hard, using negative motivation, and willpower.)
Make the new association vivid and enticing — so enticing that you’re compelled to keep practicing the new habit because you feel so much more vibrant, clear, and calm when you do it.
You decide to start taking short walks throughout the day instead of smoking. To help strengthen this new pattern, start making a strong association that links walks with being calm.
Focus on all the real benefits you get from this new association to being calm.
How does it make you feel to be out walking in nature? What benefits do you get from listening to the birds? How do you feel when you take in a deep breath of fresh air? How much more energy and stamina are you gaining with these regular short walks?
What other benefits can you imagine? Better sleep? Attitude? Happiness? Clarity? A shift in self-confidence? Keep associating these numerous real benefits with short walks.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat
You’ve probably heard that it takes 21-60ish days to form a new habit which, in the big scheme of things, isn’t long at all.
Remember, your brain could care less if it helps you walk on a regular basis or smoke, it just knows to take the easiest and most automated path.
So by repeating your new habit daily your brain begins to form a new automated path of least resistance that feels easy to sustain (just like how smoking became easy to sustain when you repeated it enough times.)
The good news with this approach to habit change? You bypass logic, trying hard, negative motivation, and willpower.
And that is how habit change is done and you, my friend, have the power to do it with ease.
Do you want to learn more about how you work as a human and how to shift into an easier way of moving through your days?
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