Yoga by the Sea

Why You Find It Hard To Change Your Habits

Ever really wanted to change, but try as you might, you can’t stick to your program? If you’re frustrated and bewildered about why you keep giving up on your good intentions, you’re not alone. But if you keep trying to do something (even as you keep failing at it) that in and of itself means something. Usually, it means there’s a strong desire there.

Now, maybe if you know why you keep giving up or failing, you can do something about it.

In this post, I’ll share some reasons you find it hard to change, maybe it will help you do better next time.

That’s my hope anyway.


1. You start many habits at once.

When you start anything new, you want to dedicate time to learning the basics. You need to get into the groove of things and allow yourself some leeway to make mistakes.

Think about when you start a new job. Depending on how complicated the role, you get weeks to months of training. Your boss usually has limited expectations for those first few weeks. And you’re not expected to multitask.

THE FIX: It depends on the level of difficulty for you, but for most goals and habit change, you’re better off focusing on one thing at a time. There are some exceptions.

Trying to start an exercise program is going to be emotionally-challenging for most people. You don’t want to work on that, plus learn a new language, revamp your diet, and organize your life all at once. But it may help your exercise commitment if you’re learning to play an instrument.


2. You’re not ready to change.

Change is a funny thing. Sometimes it sneaks up on us, sometimes it hits us over the head. The process is never smooth or easy, emotionally, or otherwise. According to the 4-stage model, you first go through denial, then resistance, next exploration, and finally commitment before you’re ready to change. How long you stay in each of these stages depends on how hard-headed you are and how much you want the thing you’re trying to do.

Two people have the same goal: to start going to bed by 10 pm. One person needs to because she just started a new job where she has to get in at 7:30 every morning. Having a paycheck is a great motivator, and most people will quickly get over their resistance. But some will try to burn the candles on both ends for a while before they’re ready.

The other person wanted o go to bed by 10 pm after he figured out that staying up late is why he has no energy to exercise. If he’s seriously fed up with his lack of energy, it might take him moments too.

THE FIX: Find a compelling irrefutable reason to change. If you love sweets but want to kick the sugar habit, learn the downsides (it ages you, deepens those dimples on your thighs) and start paying attention to how they’re showing up in your life. Just by becoming more aware of the downsides (instead of ignoring them), you get fed up sooner. At other times, what you need is #3, help.


3. You don’t get help.

Many goals and habits you’re trying to do have secrets to them. You could spend years being frustrated because you don’t know these secrets, or learn them from a pro or others who’ve successfully done what you want to do.

This reminds me of how I learned to love playing tennis.