“Willpower Is All You Need For New Habits” – Think Again!
How many times do you get told that willpower is the ultimate to form new healthy habits? I am sure on plenty of occasions? Well, this is true in my case, at least! There has always been a lot of buzz about willpower whenever we try to do something new in our lives, especially when it comes to habits. But is willpower the right way for breaking the habit of being yourself? Have you ever questioned the effectiveness of motivation and willpower in habit building? I did, and here’s what I came across! But, before we get there, first, quickly try to comprehend — what is a habit, how do habits form, and how long does it take to break a habit?
What is a habit?
According to the textbook definition, habit is something you do repeatedly without even much thinking. It’s like you are on some autopilot. Over time, it just doesn’t need any effort from your side. For example, we all know how to brush, take a shower, eat, and more. These daily activities become a part of us since childhood, as we perform them without a miss.
And here’s a catch!
How do habits form?
The more you repeat something, the easy it becomes for you to follow it without much effort. This is how our brain works. It is a very straightforward way to describe how habits form. And, to be honest, as a child, our brain is quite malleable and adaptable. That’s why the habits we have been doing from childhood become quite effortless for us to continue throughout our lives. My mom is a living example of this for me. She has been waking up at 4 or 5 a.m. in the morning since forever. By the virtue of that, her brain has gotten wired to wake up at that exact timeline effortlessly. This habit was passed down to her from her mother. She doesn’t need any alarm and wakes up early automatically.
Having said that…
Can we not build new habits later in our lives? Absolutely not! There are so many anecdotes of some great people who have proven this wrong. But, of course, you cannot shy away from the fact that it becomes a bit challenging, breaking the habit of being yourself at a later stage of life.
How long does it take to break a habit?
Well, it’s quite tricky to answer this! Following different studies, different things have come up. Some believe it just takes 21 days to break old patterns and make a new habit. While some believe, it can take up to two to nine months depending on how long does it take to break a habit. Whatever it may be! The best way to sustain good habits is to keep things in moderation. Don’t be very hard on yourself. Perfectionism is a killer for greater aspects in life. Take one day at a time and you will get results for sure!!
Why is willpower a trap?
Most of us make new year’s resolutions. RIght? We start following our new habits very passionately at the start of the year. But, as days and weeks pass, everything gets back to the same. And all the little progress we make kinda vanishes. Your brain and biology are way more powerful, to be very honest. Your willpower cannot always fight against your brain’s years of cultivated neural pathways and psychological senses. That’s why many people are not able to fulfill the promises they make to themselves. And making life changes seems too far-fetched to most of us. So, what can you do about it? Is there any other way than willpower or motivation for breaking the habit of being yourself?
To your surprise, yes!
“It all boils down to your core values and true intent.”
This is the approach I am trying to follow each and every day of my life for creating positive changes. I am not perfect! Fall down many times, but integrity keeps me going. Before you start making any new habit, it’s very crucial for you to ask yourself- why am I doing this? What’s my true intent behind it? Where is it coming from? Is it to seek validation from others, or do I truly buy this?
You will definitely get an answer. It’s all about being true to yourself!
And that’s enough for breaking the habit of being your old self!
“Integrity is not something you show others. It is how you behave behind their back.” ~Unknown
How can you identify your core values?
If skipping something makes you feel guilty and bad about yourself, then it is definitely what you believe in the most. When you start doing something you value regularly, you will feel a sense of pride in yourself. In the case of daily exercising, the more you exercise, the easier it will become for you to keep your body moving. This way, you can definitely become the best version of yourself and create new habits without much hoo-hah. So, if exercising daily really means a lot to you, then nothing can stop you from doing that.
And, if you are making excuses, then it’s definitely not what you truly want… OR might be you are going through cognitive dissonance, as they say in psychology- when your ideas and beliefs don’t align with your actions. Taking everything into consideration, it would not be wrong to say that willpower is quite overrated for making new habits. Period! Instead, integrity and honesty will make you love the journey and not the destination, enhancing your new habit building.
Do you also agree that willpower is not truly effective in habit building? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comment section below! Would love to hear from you!!
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