To Do Something New, Make it Difficult to Do The Old

By Jay Forte

You say you want to change. You want to eat better. You want to be more fit. You want to read more. You want to get more sleep. You want to save more money. All are noble. And if they make life better for you, great. I hope you do them. But even when you say you want to make these changes, how committed to those changes are you really?

The reason so few of us actually stick with making those changes is simple: our habits stop us.

Our brains default to our habits. It takes a lot of energy to run our brains so the brain is always looking for ways to be efficient; doing things out of habit is efficient. However, this locks us into some behaviors that don’t align with what we say we want or need to live wisely, safely or intentionally. Knowing this, a way to interrupt an unproductive default habit is to make it difficult to do.

Take grocery shopping, for example. Each week, you buy a couple of bags of chips, possibly unaware you’re even putting them into the cart. Then, once home, you have a supply of chips easily accessible to you, making it hard to eat better.

Another example: working out. You say you want to work out before you go to work each day, but when the alarm goes off, you hit snooze several times. By the time you get out of bed, there is no time for a workout. And now you’re rushing to get to work on time.

So how can you make these default habits difficult to do?

If there are no chips or junk food in the house, it is more difficult to default to mindless eating. If the DVR no longer has hours of recorded shows for you to watch, you have time to do other activities, such as working out, reading or going to bed at a more reasonable hour. If you have money deposited directly from your check into your retirement or savings account, it is not available to spend.

Look through your life and identify the unproductive habits. As you find behaviors that take you away from where you want to be, assess what changes you need to make. Then, start by making what you currently do so difficult that it naturally forces you toward better and more successful behavior.

Important Questions from a Coach:

  1. What is one unproductive habit that you need or want to change?
  2. What could you do to make doing this behavior more difficult?
  3. What is the first step you will make today to shift to a new and more productive behavior?


Consider reading The Energy Funnel Explained: Level 5

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