The important thing to remember when changing habits

Starting a bad habit and losing a good one are easy things to do. The other way around, well… not so much. There’s one thing that has a huge impact on wether we succeed with it or not: Getting back to it after a failure.

The important thing to remember when changing habits

Working out, eating healthy, losing a bad habit or practising a new craft – I’m huge on those things. I have a long “shopping list” of self improvement items. I have to slow myself down, otherwise I’d pick up something new every other day.

Say you want to eat healthier or work out on a daily basis. I’m sure most of us have tried that at one point, they’re kind of the usual candidates. It generally goes well while we’re on a roll: the success of the past days builds up momentum and gets us through yet another day.
But what happens if one particular day, temptation/laziness/bad habits overwhelm us? The train with all its cargo of good intentions comes to a complete stop. Brakes screeching, smoke pouring.

It wasn’t anything to be proud of… this binging on junk food threw our arteries back into the time before we ate all those fresh veggies. Not working out that one day somehow made perfect sense then, but looks like a lazy excuse now that it has grown from a day to a whole week of gym abstinence. Probably nurtured by junk food.

When we set out to pick up a new habit or lose a bad one, the difference between those that succeed and those that fail is:

The winners start again after they have failed.

The important thing after a failure is not to stick our head in the ground. Get back on the train and start shovelling those coals!
After all, it’s not a complete stand still. The veggies are still in the fridge, the trainer still waits for our call, the nicotine gum is still stuffed in the front pocket.

Realise your mistake, and make a note what triggered it. So the next time you spot it on the horizon, you can avoid it. Then, go back to the good habit as if the mistake never happened.

Winners dont always manage to keep going. But they restart when they failed.

This is why New Years resolutions so often fail – they are “one chance” habit changers. Created with a yearly optimism (and plenty of campagne), they are not taken seriously enough to last past the first set back in most cases.

What habits are you trying to change? And why do you fail?


text ©Michael Herold  Safe Creative #1401030108909
image ©StockMonkeys.com CC License

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