3 Reasons Why You’re Having A Hard Time Changing Your Habits

Personal Development

Everyone has a poor habit that they want to get rid of.

Overeating, skipping your exercise routine too often, procrastinating, time wasting—these are the typical culprits, they are almost universal.

Wanting to adopt good habits is not just noble; it could be just what you need to completely change your life for the best.

But, if letting go of bad habits to replace them with good ones is such a virtuous thing, why do we find it so hard to do? Why is it so hard to commit to a consistent workout routine, to break the smoking habit, to eat healthy foods, to adhere to a writing or working routine that will allow you to attain your goals?

Here are the most common reasons why you are probably struggling to adopt better habits and what to do about it:

Relying solely on willpower

Neurobiologists point out to the fact that habits become engrained or hardwired because of chemical and biological processes that occur in the brain. Such entrenched habits can be extremely difficult to break, but it’s not impossible to break free from them.

how to change habitsIt goes without saying that hard-wired habits require more than willpower and positive thinking to change. Researchers suggest that you create an environment that will enable you to avoid or mitigate the bad habits and replace these with better ones.

So, for example, if you spend most of your time hanging out with unproductive, unmotivated people and you are trying to break that habit against all odds, chances are that you will have a really hard time and you will give up.

To change your procrastination habits, you might have to move away from friends or associates who have this habit and are not actively seeking to replace it with a habit of time management and productivity.

Not being clear about what needs to be done

Think about it: The last time you tried to shop for a high value asset online, how did that turn out? If you are like most people, you came across too many choices, too many features and too many price points that you decided not to purchase the product after all.

It’s the same thing with habits. When changing a habit is difficult, you are likely to choose to stay the same way. The one thing that makes it difficult to change is being unclear about what you really need to change and why you really need to change it.

The ‘why’ is very important because it is your source of motivation. If you are not sure why it would be beneficial to change or if you are questioning whether you will be able to follow through, you will likely fall back and give up on your attempts to change a habit.

Self-efficacy—the belief that you know what needs to be done and your ability to do is particularly important in helping you to start transforming your habits.

Setting very high expectations

We are always taught to set the bar high for ourselves if ever we are going to accomplish anything worthwhile.

However, you need to understand the hardwired nature of habits, especially first-learned habits. Taking big steps and setting high goals for yourself can result into a cycle of trying-and-failing so much so that you will give up trying at all.

Here’s a little tip: Approach your bad habit like a lioness approaching a gazelle. Use a calculated tact, take one step at a time, but stay determined to slay the habit. The point is to take small steps to see big rewards.

For example, if you have been struggling with going to the gym, you would be setting yourself up for failure and discouragement if you jumped straight into wanting to run a marathon. A good first step would be to get a workout buddy to start exercising with, offer you support and keep you accountable.

Changing Your Habits

Human beings are not mere creatures of habit. It is possible to re-engineer our brains and re-orient our behavior for our own benefit. A change of environment, setting reasonable expectations and more importantly, developing a sense of self-efficacy is essential to adopting new goals.


  1. Maggi says:

    I still have a number of habits I’d like to change. However, I can certainly relate to your “Setting very high expectations” as being a factor in why some people quit early. Had I done that, I would not have attained my CGA designation. I accomplished this by setting a goal to get to level 2 of 5 only. I had no idea that I would end up completing all five levels when I started. Each level seemed to offer a different reward which kept me going.

    • Hi Maggi, thanks for the insights. Glad to hear you did so well with the CGA. I really encourage people to dream big, however, it’s important to set realistic goals in which to reach those dreams. This way it keeps us going and we can expand our vision as we hit our goals. Have a great day!

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