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Motivate Me Science

What You Need to Know About Realistic Habit Change

katiehinman October 2, 2020
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All too often you’ll hear someone around you declare: “It’s all in your head. It’s up to you. If you would really want it – it would happen”. You want so badly to believe it’s true, that by the power of your thoughts you could rearrange your habits and your life. But if it’s really that easy – why can’t you just do it? And what about those very real, out of your head, obstacles you keep encountering? 

First thing first – you’re right, it’s not your imagination. When trying to create new habits and getting rid of old ones you will encounter many very real obstacles. Your schedule, your energy level, basic knowledge that you might lack. These things are absolutely real, and have real effect over your ability to change your habits. 

With that, one of the main differences between people who are able to create change in their lives and those who aren’t, is about the voices they constantly hear in their heads. If you try something new, let’s say – adding salad to your lunch every day – and after a few days of success you suddenly realize that it’s not going to happen today (there is a big lunch at the office, all pizza, no salad or that you didn’t have time to buy fresh veggies). You can see things in a black or white perspective, feeling that if you are not able to maintain your new habit you are back on the fat track, which will send you right back to the fridge to have some ice cream after that pizza (in behavioral economics, this kind of reaction is called “what the hell effect).

The alternative is a little more complicated but is totally worth it. You can try and realize that everyone has bad days. That part of the way to success is going off roads and exploring unknown territories. If you’ll be able to look at every situation as an opportunity, you might be able to think about things that will help you in the future (like ordering veggies online or bringing a salad with you to work) instead of feeling hopeless. 

The next time your plans go off track (and it will, because this is real life and not a theory book) take a moment to breath. Remind yourself that everybody lapse every once in a while, and ask yourself – what can you do to help yourself stick to your new habit in a better way tomorrow? 

Instead of entering a cycle of self distraction, do everything you can in order to make sure your next meal is a healthy one – go buy a salad, pick up a fruit from your fruit bowl or just drink a cup of water. You can do it, take just one step in the right direction.

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