“I will start working out this month” or ‘I am too stuck in my ways to adopt a new habit” or “I tried this, but I can’t do it anymore”. How many of you find these sentences familiar? Most of you may have uttered something of the same effect or have heard people around you do so. The crux of these conversations is habits. There are many myths about habits, and they hinder a person from adopting positive change in life.
It is important to dispel these habit building myths and embrace a new perspective on habit formation. While we do this, let us also discuss some actionable insights which can be applied when you try to build new habits.
Myth 1: Habits are boring
Most people feel habits pertain to structure. People who cannot follow structure are of they idea that they will rebel against it. If you look at the most basic things you do, like eating food and putting on clothes, they are all habits! If you find your habits boring, it is maybe because you are making them boring. Habits make up our lives. If you want a fun life, maybe add fun to your habits.
Myth 2: I am too too old to adopt a new habit
There is no age limit to learning. Yet this is an excuse used by most adults when it comes to learning something new. This is used as an excuse most of the times because some people are afraid to put in efforts. Here it is important to understand the benefits a habit will give the person. If a person can see a benefit for themselves, it becomes easier for them to adopt a habit.
Myth 3: I need a reward to develop a habit
Creating rewards and punishments for habit formation is not ideal. Everyday motivation to form a habit is also not a feasible way to develop habits. Firstly, rewards need to be in line with your goal to form a habit. It cannot be ‘have a cookie’ for completing an intense workout. On the other hand, people often use punishments like ‘donate 100 rupees’ or anything of that sort if they fail to follow a habit. It is important to understand that as humans, we feel pleasure in the present and punishment is put off for the future. Future is not a problem in the present. It is taken lightly, hence motivation, more so from rewards and punishment is not reliable method of forming a habit.
Myth 4: I cannot miss a day
You cannot be too strict and punish yourself if you do not follow a habit for a day. There can be several reasons why an individual cannot perform a habit, maybe they are stressed or not in a good mood. The key is to show compassion for oneself and not associate habits with punishments. On the other hand, you can follow one of my golden rules of habit formation – ‘Never miss two days in a row’. This way, you give yourself space and ensure you don’t have a significant break in habit formation.
Myth 5: All successful people share the same habits
This is one of the biggest myths which needs to be done away with. People feel if they imitate habits of successful people, they will achieve the same level of success. One cannot imitate habits blindly. There is a reason behind why each person follows a habit. A businessperson may wake up at 4 a.m. and another will sleep at 4 a.m. An athlete will need 12 hours of sleep. They have different reasons as to why they take up a habit. Following the habits without understanding the ‘why’ behind it is not advisable. Pick and choose habits that align with your life. Start small and create your own journey.
Myth 6: Resolutions are not habits
Resolutions are wishful thinking, without really following a plan to turn them into habits. Those who are successful in their New Year resolutions, found a way to change their resolution into habits. Most resolutions lose steam in the first half of the year. That is because effort was not put in to form habits.
All said and done, habits play an integral role and need to be formed based on certain principles of habit formation. If you are looking for positive transformation in your life, adopting positive habits is the only route to do so.