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5 myths that prevent us from forming good habits
5 myths that prevent us from forming good habits

Stop berating yourself for lack of discipline and missing days.

5 myths that prevent us from forming good habits
5 myths that prevent us from forming good habits

Only 8% of people manage to fulfill their own New Year's promises. Although it gives them about every second. To change for the better - to lose weight, start exercising or educate yourself - it is important to form new good habits or get rid of old and bad ones. This is not always easy to do. This is partly because there are many misconceptions about working with habits that make the task even more difficult. Let's deal with some of them.

1. The habit is formed 21 days

You have probably heard this statement more than once. For the first time it sounded back in the 60s in the book by Maxwell Moltz "Psychocybernetics". Later, this idea was replicated by psychologists, experts on personal growth, and in general everyone and everyone who is not lazy. You may have come across the book "A World without Complaints", in which the author Will Bowen suggested that three weeks without criticism, complaints and whining could radically change a person's worldview and life.

The idea of 21 days sounds very seductive and inspiring: in less than a month you can become a different person - productive and successful, playing sports and reading for an hour a day.

But according to research, it takes 18 to 254 days to permanently form a new habit or get rid of an old one. For example, the habit of exercising is formed after six weeks of regular exercise. It doesn't sound so optimistic anymore. But it is better to know this than to indulge oneself with illusions.

2. Forming a new habit is a matter of discipline and willpower

Willpower is generally given too much importance. Allegedly, it is enough just to strain and force yourself to do exercises for a while or do without sweets - and everything will work out. Couldn't force? Well, then you are a weak-willed rag, it is your own fault.

In fact, habits are just needed in order to do without volitional efforts. After all, willpower is an exhaustible resource. It is like a muscle that cannot be pumped endlessly, you cannot go far on it alone.

In order to achieve success, you need to create a so-called habit loop, which consists of a trigger, an action pattern, and a reward. For example, you hear the alarm clock, get out of bed, drink a glass of water - this is a trigger, a moment in time, or an event that reminds you of your task.

Then you perform a certain sequence of actions: put on sweatpants, spread the rug, do yoga. After that, you will definitely receive a reward - a feeling of lightness in the whole body, a good mood, the joy of defeating yourself, a tick in the diary, a cup of delicious tea or coffee.

Rewarding is perhaps the most important element in habit formation.

It is it that helps to deceive the dopamine system, make it believe that morning exercises or memorizing foreign words is very easy and pleasant and you definitely need to repeat it more often. Be sure to think about what can be a reward for you: praise yourself, pamper yourself with small amenities and gifts, look for something in each task that brings pleasure.

Combine challenging activities with those that give you joy, such as playing a podcast or audiobook while you run. Maintain a habit tracker: Checking the boxes or painting the boxes on the calendar is also a kind of reward.

3. Apps and services help build habits

Another attractive idea, which is actively exploited by the creators of all kinds of, often paid services. Download the app, follow the instructions, turn on a thousand reminders - and you will have good habits, success and a happy life.

Alas, programs and services alone do not help build habits. And many even interfere. For example, on gaming applications that turn work on yourself into a kind of MMORPG with earning points and competition between participants, you risk spending all the time that you could devote to sports, reading or foreign languages.

Researchers have also found that reminders that appear in every first habit app actually inhibit habit formation in the long run.

4. If you missed a day, everything was lost

You've probably heard this theory more than once. It is important to repeat some action every day, without skipping. And if you break the chain at least once, all previous achievements are devalued and you need to start over. Sounds very harsh and not overly motivating. Therefore, many, having missed a morning run or an English lesson, get upset, come to the conclusion that everything is useless, and quit working on their habits.

And in vain. Regularity is very important for both habits and skills. When we repeat something constantly, we help to form neural connections, so that with each new time the action will be given easier. And yes, for the purity of the experiment, after skipping all the checkboxes that you put in the habit tracker are reset to zero, and the countdown of the days starts over.

But this does not mean that all efforts were wasted.

Your brain still began to change, absorb new knowledge, learn previously unknown skills. Knowledge, experience and neural connections will not disappear anywhere in a day or two. Researchers who have found out that one-time absences do not interfere with the formation of good habits at all speak about this.

5. The main thing is to change yourself

This is about the same as with willpower. It seems to us that the key to change lies only in our behavior. If you change it - for example, you start to get up early and cook oatmeal - you will also change your habit.

At the same time, we completely ignore the role of the environment, and it is also quite significant.

Take a healthy breakfast: you can beat yourself up for not having enough enthusiasm to cook porridge in the morning, or you can analyze what the real problem is. Maybe you don't like oatmeal very much - then you should think about other options for a healthy breakfast or make sure that there are always nuts and fruits at home that will make the porridge tastier.

Or maybe you don't want to stand at the stove in the morning. Then you should buy a slow cooker or make "lazy oatmeal" in the evening: pour the flakes with fermented baked milk or yogurt, add fruits and berries and leave overnight. It's the same with sports: it may be easier for you to go jogging if you buy nice sneakers and prepare your clothes in the evening. In a word, you should not rely only on your own discipline - be sure to make sure that working on your habits is pleasant and comfortable.