“Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconcious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character…” –Stephen R. Covey
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
You’ve been there before, I’m sure; we all have. You want to make some sort of change and can’t seem to make it stick.
Whether it’s your New Year’s Day resolutions, your promise to listen more, or your new time-management regime, replacing old habits with new ones is tough. And it can be discouraging: how much energy do you have to start a new exercise program the day after you’ve declared the last program a flop?
Can you ever teach old dogs new tricks?
Why is it so difficult to break a habit and put a new, more constructive one in its place?
- Habits, by design, resist change. They are the original “set it and forget it” lifestyle aid. And for good reason: habits keep you safe and sane. You can appreciate how great it is that your habits resist change. Without habits, you’d have to consciously think about everything. Imagine what life would be like if you had to consciously think about everyday tasks such as walking, talking, driving a car, reading, typing, and remembering to say, “Please,” and “Thank You.” All these habits made sense to you as you built them and they still serve a good purpose.
- The typical methods for changing habits have a fatal flaw: they try to fight the old habit with “will power.” Will power is just no match for a nicely entrenched habit. In his book, The Biology of Belief, Dr. Bruce Lipton says our habitual brain is more powerful than our conscious brain…more than a million times more powerful! Your habits are going to win whenever you pick a fight with them.
Luckily, there is a method for building new habits that works. (more…)