Difficult, but not Impossible
How often do we try to create a new habit or stop a bad one only to realize months later that our willpower faded when we weren’t looking? It’s hard to keep up willpower for any length of time. Sure, we can stick to a low-fat, 1,000-calorie diet and go hungry for a week or two, but eventually our willpower fades. We can also follow through with exercising even though we don’t want to — until we run out of willpower.
However, don’t lose hope. It may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. There are tasks we do each day that we don’t necessarily want to do, and yet, we do them without having to rely on willpower. For example, we must take the kids to school, brush our teeth, or go to work.
When we are required to do certain tasks, eventually, they become habits. They become so ingrained in us that we do them without considering skipping a day. We don’t have to make a conscious decision each day to shower or drive to work. It’s just what we do – a habit. So why is it so difficult to create new habits that foster good health and success?
Habits and Willpower
If we think about it for a moment, there’s a relationship between habits and willpower. To build a new habit takes daily willpower. Eventually, as we work at it, it becomes easier and easier until it’s a habit and we don’t have to think so hard about doing the task.
Just being aware of this process helps us stick it out. After a while it won’t take so much effort to work out or skip eating that donut for breakfast. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We know eventually it will become habit to go for a run first thing in the morning and grab some fruit or fix some eggs for breakfast.
Tools and Ideas
While we’re in the transition from willpower to habit, we can use tools to make it easier. For example, use a to-do list or set a calendar or task reminder to help you stay on track. Find an accountability partner so the two of you can motivate each other and help bolster that willpower when it starts to fade after the enthusiasm wears off. Even something as simple as laying out your running clothes the night before and keeping your sneakers by the door will make it a little easier to go for that run.
Another idea is to close your eyes and spend 2 minutes reminiscing about how it feels after you eat a healthy meal, take a run, or have been exercising for several weeks. Remember? Those are awesome feelings. Use them to help motivate you, and get to it.
Honestly, rewards are great! Take yourself out or do something special for yourself at each milestone or when you feel you’ve done well. Having someone call you each week and ask how it’s going is also very helpful. When you’ve done well, they could take you out for a treat or send you a card of encouragement. While most or all of these ideas are probably things you’ve read before, my hope is that reminding you of them will help.
Do what you can to energize your willpower along the way until you have made the new behavior automatic. After that it will be easy, natural, and a new lifelong habit.
Blessings and Peace,
PS. What’s a new habit you finally created in your life? How long did it take you? Comment below…