Building better habits is a hot topic in the self-help and personal development industry. Especially these last few months where people have had plenty of time to sit and reflect on their current habits and personal goals. It seems everyone always feels they need to change things and these changes happen to be things they “should” change rather than actual goals willing to be worked on.
One of the biggest issues with developing a new habit, however, is the forever claim that they, “just don’t have the motivation.” This is shared by the idea that people don’t have enough time or resources, but then again, it can be argued that both loop right back to motivation.
Therein lies the problem entirely. If you are the person who complains about lack of motivation then you are likely the person who sits and waits to do something until motivation strikes them. The problem is sometimes it takes a long time for motivation to strike. Motivation can be very quick to leave you and can take forever to come back.
This causes problems with backsliding, the concept of starting a regimen or habit, and slowly falling back into old habits.
There are two reasons for this.
- You over committed yourself to this new habit and bit off more than you can chew. You got a little eager, and that’s great, but starting off too fast can result in less consistent efforts and therefore, a higher chance of burn out of making a lasting change.
- Your current environment does not support your new habit. Either people or things within it have the opposite effect on you.
Backsliding can happen with anything! In the wellness industry it most likely happens with habits such as eating healthy, working out regularly, or limiting screen time before bed. When you overcommit to one of these new habits you need to be careful with how much time and effort you put into them. If you put too much effort into it, it will feel like a job and something that you have to sacrifice things for rather than a choice. You are less likely to “find the motivation.”
In James Clear’s book “Atomic Habits,” he talks about this concept in detail and discusses how too much effort when trying to start a new habit is detrimental. He also details out how initially taking smaller commitments to your habits is what actually puts you in a position to perform the “cue” for the action consistently.
This method allows you to perform a small action all the time that will eventually put you in a position where you do it mindlessly. This creates an environment for habit execution over time.
In day to day life when you are driving to work (if anyone remembers their commute anymore), if there was consistent roadwork that seemed to never end, and added 10 or 15 minutes to your commute, you would likely find a new route to take to work every day.
The same is true on the road to building new habits. When your environment does not match your motives or preferred habits you put roadblocks in front of your results. Sure, you can go around some of these roadblocks, but if they were always there, every day, everywhere you went, you’d probably stop going that way or to that place.
The point here is if there is a thing in your life that does not facilitate the actions you wish to take or be the person you wish to be, then they do not belong.
To be successful at habit formation, elimination, or a lifestyle change overall, you must eliminate whatever does not serve you or that purpose.
This can include, items, social situations, and even people altogether. Sometimes it takes the removal of something to be able to add something of value into our lives.