4 Reasons It’s Hard to Change Your Habits (and 20 Tips to Make It Easier)
RAFT Team, June 13, 2022
What is change? According to dictionary.com, change means to become different. These changes can show up in micro and macro ways. From adding more milk to your coffee to becoming a parent. In these scenarios, change can happen quickly. It's different when you try to change your habits.
Changing your behavior takes time.
- It takes most people 66 days to change a habit.
- When you hand write goals, you can increase your completion rates by 42%.
- Having an accountability person increases success by 70% compared to 35% without..
- When you’re reminded of a new habit, you’re 12% more likely to complete the goal.
- If you track your new habit goals, you’re 36% more likely to achieve them.
- If you track new habits with a group, you’re 62% more likely to achieve them.
Change is hard.
Change doesn’t follow a linear path. Our behavior results from our belief systems. And the most limiting of those beliefs are formed between 0-7 years of age! Our beliefs help us function in the world and help us decide our career and navigate our daily decisions. And they define who we believe we are and the values by which we live.
Change requires you to develop new habits. Which requires a new mindset and perspective.
Because of our core values and beliefs, often engrained at a very young age, changing any part of our behavior is difficult.
We humans follow the path of least resistance. Change requires specific goals and disciplined action. Hope alone is not a solid strategy when you’re seeking to change.
As you approach change, consider these tips:
- Be intentional.
- Get a change partner to help keep you accountable.
- Lean into your support network. Know who can help you in what way. One may be your biggest cheerleader, another your tough love source. And someone will be one to help you with creative solutions when you’re tempted to step back into old habits.
- Look for success stories about people who have changed.
- List the benefits of change.
Change is a multi-stage event.
Don’t you wish change could be a one time decision? If this were true, in one action, we could become a new person and start living in a whole new way. But change comes about through a series of decisions every day. Change takes a rerouting of our neural pathways.
Imagine when you were a kid at the top of a hill laid fresh with snow. That first ride down might be slow as your sled forges a new trail. But each time you traverse that path, the harder the snow gets packed and the faster and smoother your fly. Until there’s hardly a chance you’ll ride any other path down the hill. Who would want to?
- Experiment with change. Start small.
- Outline some measurable goals (week 1, week 2, etc.)
- Outline rewards to celebrate success
- Be specific about your goals. This increases your sense of agency, which increases motivation, self-regulation, self-efficacy, and achievement.
Change requires clarity.
This includes clarity of the entire problem, clarity of direction, and clarity of what it takes to alter your course. To accomplish the most effective change, you’re going to have to sit down and think about what specifically needs to change and various ways to accomplish that change.
- Make a list of the pros and cons of changing and a list of the pros and cons of staying exactly where you are.
- Name the obstacles that you’ll likely face. This anticipation will help you problem solve and have counter measures in place before they even occur. You won’t be caught flat-footed without a plan of action.
Change takes discipline.
There’s really no easy way around it: change is hard work. You’re breaking years’ worth of habits and mindsets for each change you’re pursuing. It will take dedication and support to make long-term change a reality. Embrace the truth that now and then it’s going to be uncomfortable.
- Create S.M.A.R.T. Goals. This acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time-bound.
- Read about, study, and talk to people who have accomplished what you want to. This will provide inspiration and creative solutions.
- Engage in self-reflection each week. Review what’s working and what’s not. How can you pivot? Brainstorm new ideas as needed.
- Hold yourself accountable. Don’t let excuses be the norm!
- Engage your support network to keep you motivated and on track.
Change needs self-compassion.
Don't be your own biggest bully as you pursue change. Be patient with yourself.
- Reframe your thoughts from negative to positive.
- Remind yourself of your value.
- Practice gratitude.
- Make time for self-care. These 3 steps can help you develop a wellness plan for the long haul.
Remember, you are capable of change. You’re making micro changes happen every day. Who you were a year ago isn’t who you are today. It’s why you experience a natural ebb and flow in friendships, hobbies and lifestyle. Every single day, we make micro changes in what we value, behaviors we model, and how we live.
The more intentional we are about these changes, the greater satisfaction we’ll experience and the more joy we’ll have each and every day!