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Habits are Hard

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Tired and frustrated

Recently, I was reading an article about habit-building. As one of our core specialities at Asian Efficiency, I like to keep up with what other people are saying about it.

Sadly, this article was like most of what you see out there. “Having a hard time building habits? Just do this one thing!” And that one thing turns out to actually be really hard and rely almost totally on willpower and self-discipline…which is a recipe for failure.

It’s really hard to adopt habits. If you’re reading this, you probably already know that.

Why Is It So Hard to Adopt Habits?

There are a lot of reasons supported by scientific research. I’ll give you three today.

  1. The Economic and Social Research Council, for example, released findings from 129 different studies of behavioral change. What did they find? The least effective strategies for changing behavior are ones that rely on negative feelings. And what do most of us rely on to change our habits?Shame and guilt. This isn’t productive at all.
  2. Studies have also shown again and again that specific goals are easier to reach than vague goals. Unfortunately, vague goals are what most people aim for. Things like, “I’m going to get more fit” or “I’m going save more money.” Specific goals like “A month from now, I’ll be able to do five pushups in a row” are much more effective at producing real change.
  3. Research (reported by Harvard Medical School) shows that goals fail when they don’t have practical ways to achieve them. So “exercise every day” is a lot more likely to fail than “keep my gym clothes by the bed so I put them on first thing in the morning.”

So What Do You Do with This Information?

Now you have a few research-supported reasons for why habits are hard to adopt. What do you do with that?

You can keep doing what you’ve been doing. Based on what our clients tell us, this is probably a mixture of reading blogs, listening to podcasts, maybe reading a book or two on the topic of habits, and trying random things your friends, family, and coworkers tell you.

Have you had enough of that? Are you ready for something proven to work right away – proven because it’s worked on thousands of people? Next week on Wednesday, March 9, we will release our new Habits Crash Course that addresses all of this. Stay tuned.

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