Create a New Habit Without Motivation

Have you noticed how hard it is to form a new habit? or even break an existing one?

Motivation

Forming a new habit will usually take some effort and will involve doing something new. I used to think that the right motivation was the key, but from my experience, motivation is only good for a short term change. If you’re lucky, you may be able to form a new habit for a while. But what happens when that motivation is no longer relevant and your life changes???

Some new habits will take longer than others to establish. If you are relying on motivation alone to get you to the point where it is a solid long-term habit, you may find you don’t get there.

Hesitation

Motivation is fickle. It’s not reliable. It can be good to get you started, but it lacks endurance for the long haul! There are and have been a few times when I have needed create new habits, but the busier life was, the harder it was to do. So I started listening to myself and watching how I behaved. And you know what I found? I was self sabotaging, I was hesitating way too often when it just wasn’t necessary:-

  • I hesitated to get out of bed early to exercise
  • I hesitated to walk out the door to go for a walk as soon as my husband got home from work
  • I hesitated when I went to get a drink of water and chose a soft drink instead

And what happened when I hesitated? I talked myself out of it. The longer I hesitated the more difficult it became, to just do it. I came up with all sorts of reasons not to do it. It became an internal struggle against myself. I had to talk myself into doing the “right” thing. It sounds a bit crazy, but I’m not on my own here.

Your Brain Takes Over

There is research backing this and many people talking about it. Someone I have been following for a while now is Mel Robbins. Among other things, she talks about motivation being a load of crap. She also explains that as soon as you hesitate, you are giving your brain time to process what is happening, creating a window for it to say “Hey they hesitated, this isn’t feeling comfortable, this needs to stop, I need to stop this”. The brain thinks there is something going on that it needs to protect you from. It’s a natural instinct. You’re feeling uncomfortable about what you need to do. You’d rather stay in bed nice and cosy right? Your brain can’t tell real danger, from you just being uncomfortable. So it starts working to get you back to your comfort zone — stay in that nice cosy bed.

Stop Hesitating

The next time you make a pact with yourself to do something, listen to your internal dialogue. See if you can recognise the self sabotage happening.

The best way to stop this is to not hesitate, don’t give your brain a chance to think it through. Take the action, don’t think about it. Every time you think about doing something rather than just doing it, you give your brain a chance to talk yourself out of it. If you start down the path of talking yourself out of it, try something that Mel Robbins calls the 5-second rule. Count backwards from 5 and as soon as you get to 1, take action! The counting switches the thinking off, stopping the self talk and allows you to break free, to take action.

Start the New Habit!

This isn’t fool-proof, it will take effort, conscious effort. It won’t make it easy to get on and do what you want or need to do, but it will get you doing it.

I use this to get up before the kids in the morning and do some form of exercise for myself. I definitely have days where I just snooze my alarm. On those days my day feels and runs like crap. It’s all like an uphill battle.The days i get up and get on with it, I am clear headed, more productive and better able to manage everything running a business and raising 3 kids brings with it.

You probably know what you need to change. Don’t wait for some milestone or some piece of fickle motivation. Don’t hit snooze, don’t hesitate, count down from 5, and do it. Live your life now, don’t wait for the motivation to come. It may never arrive or be enough to carry you to your destination. Start that new habit!