Change our habits it can be very difficult, especially if they have accompanied us for years. Why is it so difficult to create new habits and get rid of old ones?
What are the most common mistakes that prevent you from developing a new habit?
1. The desire to change too many things at once. The more areas of our life we wish to change, the more difficult the path will be. In fact, in this way we run the risk of staying halfway with the feeling of having jumped out of the plane without a parachute. As a result, we return to old habits, which our brain perceives as a source of security.
Solution: Choose a key suit. Instead of changing a lot of things, choose something that is truly important and meaningful. This change will act like a rolling snowball that will grow larger leading to further transformations, but slowly, without overwhelming you. Focus on changing one habit at a time.
2. Start with too big a habit. When we start with overly ambitious goals we risk failing simply because we don't know where to start or it's not clear which path we should take. The same happens with habits. It is more difficult and stressful to radically change your lifestyle than to go one step at a time.
Solution: The key is to make it as easy as possible. For example, if you want to develop the habit of going out for a run, don't start with a distance of 10km, but limit yourself to just 500 meters. If you want to start practicing meditation, don't expect to start with an hour a day, it only takes 5 minutes. It is about planning activities that are not too demanding. Gradually you will build the habit.
3. Don't change the environment. The environment in which we live every day is essential because it enhances some habits and prevents the development of others. Obviously, it is not easy to get rid of certain habits when they are accepted and promoted by the group of people we live with.
Solution: Build an environment that fosters the habits you want to develop. For example, if you want to eat healthy, you don't have to buy junk food so you don't have it on hand. It is about surrounding yourself with an environment that facilitates the habits you want to develop, or at least that does not make you resume the old ones. Remember that it will be more difficult to quit smoking or drinking if those around you continue to do so.
4. Focus on results. Goal setting is key when it comes to reaching a goal. However, when trying to build new habits, goals can be an obstacle, because they stimulate us to focus on results rather than striving to achieve them. It is normal to want our actions to generate successes, but the problem is that goals by themselves do not lead to results, it is the changes we implement that do so.
Solution: Concentrate on the rituals, on the behavior and not on the results. During the first few days or even weeks one should try to create satisfying rituals that can take the place of old habits. Don't worry and don't obsess about the results, they will come effortlessly once you have established the new habit.
5. Disdain for small changes. Every journey, however long, started with the first step. However, we often set big goals, but forget the small steps we need to take to achieve them. However, when it comes to establishing new habits, it's the small changes that make all the difference.
Solution: The repetition of small actions not only helps to create the habit but also allows to consolidate it. Therefore, it is what we do every day that brings us closer or further from the goal. It is best to focus on the small successes, the ones that allow us to advance only 1% each day. Always remember a saying of the sage Confucius: “It doesn't matter how slowly you go, if you never stop”.