Are Your Habits Holding You Back?

Written by Posted On Thursday, 12 September 2019 05:00

Have you ever found yourself feeling defeated when you try to change a habit? You desperately want to change your habits, but in the course of daily life, well, things haven’t changed. Don’t despair! There are solid reasons for that. 

Author James Clear shares how setting small productive habits will get you to the changes you desire, and ultimately the goal you are trying to achieve. In his best-selling book, “Atomic Habits, Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results” the author points out that small, easy changes are the secret to making the behavioral changes that eventually gets you to your goals, even when that goal is in the future. 

Part of the challenge is that “future” thing….no immediate gratification, no big change. According to Clear, that’s where the magic lie--in the tiniest changes are the most remarkable results.  Let’s take losing weight as an example of a goal you want to achieve.

Frustration occurs when your class reunion is around the corner, and the new outfit you have is too snug for comfort. If your goal is to lose 10 pounds, you have to admit you didn’t gain the weight in one day, so it’s not realistic that you will lose it in one day. In addition, as we age, our metabolism changes, so we have to increase physical activity to balance our slower metabolism.

So, you sign up for a gym, hire a fitness trainer, and start a new “diet” program. Those are all good strategies to lose that pesky 10 pounds, but the underlying behavior and gratification still needs to be addressed; you have to engage in the new habit.  

• Changing habits is difficult! If you really want to implement a new habit, James recommends you make it so small and so easy that it becomes a no brainer. Give yourself a goal to do one sit-up. Your mind can’t possible object to doing just ONE sit-up! Chances are, you’ll do one…and then 10 more.

• Develop ways to shift your attitude from “have to do it” to “get to do it”.  When we have some kind of immediate gratification in the process of the shift, we are more likely to continue the plan.  Even die-hard types can give up when there is an interruption in the plan. Immediate comfort will override future gratification every time unless we make the habit so easy, simple, and reflexive it is hard NOT to do it.  In the case of starting a new exercise program to boost your energy and start burning calories, start with a very short walk at a specific time. Have your clothes laid out and ready to rock first thing in the morning if that is your chosen time, or right after you get home from work.  Create a backup plan if your walk depends on the weather so you don’t skip a session because of rain. When you can look at this time spent on exercise as “get to” instead of a “have-to” you’re more likely to stick with it.

• Engage with an accountability partner who has a similar goal. I found this out when a few of my friends asked me to join a “spin” class.  Frankly, the thought of a spin class sounded awful to me, and I had a hundred reasons why I “couldn’t” do it (being all hot and sweaty was at the top of the list).  What happened was a transformation when my friends got together for a short 30-minute spin class and then enjoyed relaxing together after the class. The fun factor added gratification, the shorter class made it more “do-able” and the results have been amazing.  We all show up, get engaged, have fun together, and the physical transformation is beginning to actually show.

Your habits are the cornerstones for self-improvement and living the life you want.  Start converting your habits into more joy, and watch your life change!


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Terri Murphy

Terri Murphy, Communication engagement specialist, author, speaker, consultant, and Master Coach with Workman Success. She is the author of 5 books, TedTalk speaker and co-radio host on Contact: or Email: [email protected]

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