Why deciding to change rarely works

December 7, 2019

“We become what we repeatedly do.” ― Sean Covey

 

Many people decide that "tomorrow will be the day I start to eat more healthily" or "from next week I am going to start pushing forward in my professional life" or "from Tuesday I am going to start working out more" ... in other words they DECIDE that they would like to change some aspect of their life.  Very often these individuals will stick to their decision to change for a day or two, until then their resolve gets weaker and weaker and suddenly - their willpower seems to completely wear off.  Why does just deciding to change rarely work? - Because as humans, we are creatures of habit. 

 

A lot of what we do is habit driven.  Our behaviours around food, our behaviours at work and in our personal lives and even some of our ways of thinking - are just re-set patterns that play out on loop in our day-to-day lives.  Our brains (and our bodies) love routine - and love these habits - they love doing the same thing day-in and day-out.  This is why any form of change feels like a LOT OF EFFORT - and requires A LOT OF WILLPOWER. This is also why just deciding to change is difficult... unless you are using this decision to help you to build small habits that will serve you in the long-term. 

 

When I work with clients to re-build their relationship with food, rather than encourage them to make any drastic changes to their diet and their lifestyle - I help them to gradually build new habits and new patterns of thinking which they will be able to sustain in the long-term.  This is because once something becomes a habit it is just your natural and default way of operating.  Once you become someone that just naturally engages in a "healthy" habit - it just doesn't feel like work and it just doesn't require any willpower - it just becomes WHO YOU ARE. 

 

Research indicates that it takes approximately 3 months to build new habits - and this is why I have launched a new 12 week online course - to help you to build new habits around food, build new thinking patterns to boost your confidence, improve your personal and professional life, help you to manage stress and emotional eating... and much more - you can find out about the online course here: www.thefoodpsychologyclinic.co.uk/onlinecourse  

 

If you would start to build new habits yourself today, yes think about what you want - but then also think about what micro-habits will enable you to get what you want.  Yes you want to get fit and healthy, but perhaps the small habit that will get you there will just be making sure that every evening your gym bag is packed and ready to go so that you have no excuses not to get to the gym when you feel a bit tired tomorrow. Yes you want to eat more nutritious food but perhaps the micro-habit that will help you get there will be to carve out a little extra time in the day to give you time to shop for healthy food or prep some healthy meals (there is no point deciding to try and eat more healthily if your fridge and kitchen counter are filled with the ultra-processed foods you don't want to eat anymore).  Yes you want to change your professional direction but perhaps all you need to do to get there is to build the micro-habit of once a week, making the effort to apply for two new jobs. 

 

Your decisions give you direction - but without habits to back them up, decisions are only dreams - once you support your decisions by building up lots of habits around them - your decisions and dreams become your new way of being. 

  

“If you believe you can change - if you make it a habit - the change becomes real.” ― Charles Duhigg

 

 

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