Showing posts with label Break Bad Habits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Break Bad Habits. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Changing a Bad Habit: From Dirt Road to Superhighway

If you’ve ever tried to change a bad habit, you know how hard that can be. But you may not know why.

Your established behavior pattern is like a familiar, well-traveled road. You’ve used it for so long that the turns and stops are practically automatic. But somewhere along the line, you’ve realized your habitual way of doing things is causing problems for you, so you decide to learn a better way.

Rationally, you may acknowledge that creating the new way will be worth the effort. It will be faster, easier and more efficient…and will produce much better results. But it’s not easy to get there because you’re trying to do something different and unfamiliar.

The problem is, in order to make the change, you have to literally rewire your brain. Over time, doing things the old way caused your brain to connect up a physical circuit. And your brain doesn’t stop using it just because you decide you want to do something different.  You won’t stop using this old circuit until you establish a new one. You’re going to have to build a brand new super-highway.

But building these new connections is like starting with a dirt road. Construction of a new habit is going to take time – from several weeks to months – just as a road construction project doesn’t happen overnight. It’s going to be a bumpy, rough ride at first because the new behavior feels awkward.

And you have that old, comfortable, familiar road competing for your attention. When you experience setbacks, it will be very tempting to revert back to it.

In the early stages, you can get discouraged. For one thing, you may not appreciate how much time is required to establish a new habit. And there’s a lengthy awkward phase that’s a natural part of the process. You might feel clumsy and forgetful.

This is a vulnerable time, because progress may be so gradual that it seems like you’re not getting anywhere. When setbacks and frustrations happen, you’ll be tempted to go back to your old, familiar way. A lot of people give up at this point.

You’ve reached what we call the “Crunch Point.” My business partner Denny Coates explains how to “Get Past the Crunch Point” if you’re serious about changing a behavior.

What you probably don’t realize is that if you persist when the going gets rough, if you just keep trying in spite of the failures and disappointments, your success rate will gradually improve and your brain will eventually rewire itself. The construction of your superhighway will be complete – your new habit is now ingrained.
"Overnight success stories take a long time." - Steve Jobs (American business leader, 1955-2011)