Changing habits is significant since a study found that one week after starting the new year’s commitment, 25% had already abandoned it, and at two years, approximately 80% had done so. You have to know that the simple fact of changing the year is not a sufficient reinforcement for your new purposes. Although this initial energy bonus can work for a while, a firm habit will slowly weaken if we fail to make that purpose.
What were your purposes for this year? And the ones from the previous year? It is essential to understand how these work to prevent failure in our attempt to change habits. We can say that habit is an evolutionary mechanism to optimize psychological resources. A habit is an automatic pattern, which we do without thinking to do the maximum of things with the minimum effort, that is, to increase efficiency in the brain and the body. Changing habits is not as simple as an impact door replacement.
The habits allow us to operate in automatic pilot mode while performing tasks unconsciously: washing dishes, tying shoes, driving, etc … that is, without effort. We can think of habits as fast highways created in our mind, without realizing we get into them and it is difficult for us to get out. Like when a crowd of people goes through an impact door. They can damage it by the force of conglomeration. And the next day, we will need an impact door replacement. Because of force changes, our habits can change.
Think of some bad habits, which we all have to a greater or lesser extent, such as spending the afternoon sitting on the couch, eating in front of the TV, not having breakfast, smoking, etc … Our mind knows that we should improve them, but in certain situations, the autopilot is triggered, and the efficiency of that habit prevents us from choosing a different behavior. To create new patterns, we must build new roads in our minds. These entry roads will be slow and expensive. But as we circulate through them regularly will become new highways for which we no longer have trouble circulating.
The question is that if the highways we want to create are too slow and too expensive, in short if what we propose requires too much effort, our mind, which has difficulty changing habits already acquired precisely because they are not costly, will reveal and do everything possible to sabotage these new initiatives.
On the other hand, we have to think about what will be the real engine of that habit. Why do we want to make that change in our life?
What Motivation there is to Gain by Changing Habits?
Science has shown that when the motivation is intrinsic, that is, that motivation comes from within and its reward (for which the mind knows it is worth maintaining that habit). It is associated with personal growth and the pleasure felt by the make this habit. It will be more substantial than when the reward is external, such as money, flattery, etc …, that is, mediated by extrinsic motivation.
And this is so because intrinsic motivation is associated with a sense of choice and autonomy (I am the one who decides), self-realization, finding meaning to what we do, support by our values, and making decisions from the conscience.
Why to change your habits?
Maybe you want to do it because your partner tells you every day that you have to do it. Because the doctor tells you that you have to improve your blood test. Or because you want to look thinner in the eyes of others. All this does not stop being an extrinsic motivation. It is also necessary to differentiate between a habit as a lifestyle or an objective. For example, when I adopt the vegan diet, without gluten or detox … Do I do it because I want my lifestyle to be that? Or do I do it because I have the goal of losing weight? If we focus on the lifestyle, we do it from here and now.
However, when we focus on an objective, the mind will invariably go to the future. This will prevent us from enjoying the present moment and obtaining the internal reinforcement that pleasure supposes. Change one habit at a time, and try to incorporate three new habits at most.