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Mistakes That Cause New Habits to Fail

Your habits determine how much money is in your bank account, as well as the size of your waistline and much, much more. The truth is: your habits determine the quality of your life!

It can seem impossible to break bad habits, or to create new, positive habits, but that’s because often we have an ineffective approach. We try to go cold turkey and to rely on willpower to force the necessary changes.

This seldom works. Motivation isn’t reliable. It is here one day, and gone the next. It is dependent on too many factors to make it a resource you can count on.

Mistakes to avoid if you want to create new, effective, habits:

Changing too much, too soon. A new habit is best established with small steps. If you want to spend two hours each day writing your novel, start with a single page every day. It is something that is doable, and it gets you in the habit of sitting down and writing when it’s time to write. That’s the most important first step.

  • Start with small changes. Then increase the amount of time and effort when the habit of ‘beginning’ is in place.

  • Seek behavioral changes that are doable or easier so you have a good chance at success. (Just remember to move onto more difficult and challenging changes as soon as you can.)

Relying on self-discipline. If your habit requires self-discipline, it most likely won’t last. At best, self-discipline should only be relied upon to make a habit of ‘getting started’. Habits are automatic. Self-discipline isn’t needed to eat a candy bar, or watch TV. If you have a habit of going to the gym, self-discipline isn’t required for that either.

  • Self-discipline is a short-term solution.

  • Seek behavioral changes that are easier, you don’t need constant self-discipline.

Expecting a new habit to be easy to form. Change isn’t easy. Let’s face it, we’d all be rich, in shape, and speak five languages if creating new habits was a simple matter. So expect and plan for creating a new habit to be a challenge. New behaviors are easy to implement if you start slowly, and have patience. It’s moving ahead slowly and having patience that are difficult.

Relying too much on information. Our society is blessed, or cursed, with access to excessive amounts of information. This can create two challenges:

  • It’s easy to believe you don’t know enough to take the first step. The fact is, there’s always something out there that you don’t know, and the belief you need to know everything before getting started, can leave you stuck. There’s no prize for knowing the most. The success is in doing the most.

  • The belief that knowledge alone is enough, is just as harmful. You may know how to do push-ups, but that doesn’t provide the same results as actually doing 100 of them each day.

Military special forces have a motto: 60% is enough to take action. If you know 60% of the relevant information, you know enough to move forward. You can figure out the other 40% along the way. Spend 90% of your time doing, and 10% learning.

Ditching negative habits and adding new, supportive habits is the key to changing your life and circumstances.

Tiny changes are easy to implement and build upon. But this approach requires patience and the belief it can work.

Remember: small changes add up to big results.

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