Why do some habits stick + others do not?

challenges habits May 01, 2018

Why do some habits stick + some do not?

Our habits define us, as we become what we do repeatedly. So why is it that when we try to start a new habit, even when we have the best of intentions, that so often they don’t stick?

I know from personal experience, as I’ve tried and more often than not failed at attempting to take on a new habit.

There can be a lot of different reasons why they don’t stick.

Below are 5 reasons why that new habit doesn’t stick, even with the best of intentions. And then 5 suggestions on how to make them stick.

The idea for this new habit was not yours. Often people who genuinely care about our wellbeing will recommend that we need to change or take on a new habit. The problem is that it feels like we “should” do this, and not something we “want” to do.

The habit is not in alignment with your current life’s priorities. Let’s say that you really want to train for an upcoming 10k, as you want to get healthier. That’s great and so you decide that the only time you can train is at 5:00 am. But if your priority right now is work, such as committing to work late for the next couple of weeks on a project. Then you are putting your morning training time on the back burner.

The new habit is unrealistic. You decide that you want to run a marathon in 2 months, but you have never been a runner and are out of shape. While our bodies are capable of transforming, even that takes a certain amount of time.

You really don’t like doing the new habit. You can’t expect to create sustainable change by doing something you truly don’t like doing. If you are so unhappy doing this new habit, then your brain will quickly start looking for ways to get out of doing it.

You give in to temptation, from an old habit. If you really want to create a new habit of eating healthier, but just refuse to give up your late-night ice cream habit. The two habits are in conflict and since the ice cream habit is well established from years of late-night servings, that is the habit that will win over.

5 ideas that help create successful habits:

YOU really want to make this change. It was your idea and your idea alone. You’ve reached the point where not making this change in behavior is more painful than the challenges of learning the new habit. You have a very strong WHY for wanting to make this change.

You find an accountability buddy. You know you are not great at waking up early and going to the gym, so you find a friend or family member that will commit to meet you there every morning, and you both can work out together.

Your transition from an unhealthy habit to a healthier new habit. Let’s say you want to eat healthier and right now your norm is to go thru the drive-thru on your way home every night. You could start out by committing to finding a healthier place to get takeout even just once a week and build from there. That way you are slowly replacing the habit you want to change with a healthier habit.

Create better habits of doing things you enjoy doing. If you want to get healthier by working out, pick something you enjoy doing to make it last. If you don’t like running, don’t try to become a runner. Perhaps you’d like hiking on your neighborhood trails instead.

Set yourself up to win. Find ways to create a daily win for yourself, as those wins will build on each other. Find ways to have fun and enjoy building this new habit into your life.

Did any of these 10 ideas resonate with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Let’s all do this and hold each other accountable! As I know how important choosing good habits can be! We can be each other’s cheerleaders!

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