Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kicking the Habit

Not THAT kind of habit...

Or even this kind.

But those pesky little habits that seem to sabotage your new weight loss plan, or your new "best version of yourself" plan (if you're not working on losing weight).

I mentioned a few weeks back about how everyone seemed to be full of hope at this time of the year.  New year, new you - isn't that how the saying goes?  January is the time for new resolutions, chances to change bad habits, and chances to make something better out of what you currently are experiencing.

Except that we're starting the third week of January.

Now is crunch time.  Now is the time that those pesky bad habits tend to really creep back in.  Now is the time that the gym parking lot seems to have empty spaces again.  Now is the time when you'll find friends falling off of the diet wagon, left and right.

Why?  Why do our resolutions only last a few weeks, at most, year after year?

I challenge you - if you're teetering on the edge of giving up - to take a look at exactly what you're resolving to change.  I would guess that, more often than not, you're trying to change something that is a well-formed habit.

Habit:  an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary

A habit - technically - is a noun.  It's a thing, a behaviour.  However, I challenge you to look at it in a new light:  what if that pesky little habit that you're trying to break is a verb?  

What if that habit is no longer something that you either have or don't have....but something you choose to DO or DON'T DO?

So often, we forget that there is an element of choice within a habit.  The behaviour pattern hasn't become involuntary totally - it's almost involuntary, by definition.  Do you realize just how much of a big deal that little word "almost" is?!?!  Almost means that you're not committed to the action....you have a chance to back out!

So many of us view a habit as something that we have acquired and cannot remove, and so we try to change the characteristics of that habit.   We view it as a noun that just needs to be "tweaked."  

Have a problem with eating after the kids go to bed?  Just get rid of the sweets in the house...never mind that you'll just find something healthy to eat (like a banana).  You can't change the fact that you have a habit of late-night snacking, so you might as well just make sure it's "good" snacking, right?

Ummm, wrong.

See, there's a problem with this logic:  one day, that banana won't be there.  Instead, you'll be out of town, staying in a hotel with an oh-so-convenient little snack shop...and you'll get ice cream.  Or a candy bar.  Or both.   That habit - the late night snacking - is still there, no matter what you put in your hands every night.  You may have changed the intensity of that habit...but the habit is still there.

If the habit is still there....it's easier to fall back into your old routines.

The resolution?  Out the window.

If you're starting to feel like those resolutions aren't going to work this year, I ask you:  Are you truly changing a habit....or are you just changing what that habit looks like?

Kicking a habit isn't easy.  I've read studies that claim that it takes 21 instances of performing a new behaviour before it becomes a habit...for most of us, that's TWENTY-ONE DAYS!  Not exactly an "overnight" solution, is it?

Before you give up on this year's resolution.....take a step back and reflect.  Is it a habit - a behaviour - that you are trying to change?   Are you treating it like a verb or a noun?

1 comment:

  1. LOL. I think WWers claims it takes 12-14 weeks to kick old habits...I like 21 days better :)