Why Your Habits Never Stick
If you’ve ever tried to build a new habit, chances are you failed — a lot. Then you’ve probably convinced yourself that it failed because you’re too lazy, undisciplined or unmotivated.
But the truth is, it’s not you. We’re all terrible at change. But when you understand the mechanics of why you keep failing, you can find the solutions to finally break the cycle.
According to experts, in our ancestor’s environment rewarded very different behaviors than the one we’re in now. If you smoke, if you eat the wrong foods, if you don’t save enough for retirement, it’s quite possible that you’re gonna face the consequences. Those consequences weren’t even something that our ancestors had to look forward to. Most of their life expectancies were significantly shorter than what we’re seeing today.
Thinking about the long-term effects of our actions is a rather modern predicament. Our prehistoric ancestors didn’t worry much about the future. Back then, our priorities were restricted to finding a mate, looking for food and trying not to get eaten in the process.
Our brains are wired to prioritize immediate rewards, not to delay gratification in the pursuit of long-term rewards. In a world where we’re constantly surrounded by bright and shiny temptations, trying to fight against that biology can feel like an uphill battle.
Does that mean that we should throw our hands up and just accept that our caveman brains will never allow us to change? Maybe not.
Instead of working thru your old wiring, use it to your advantage by trying the “temptation bundle”. This is based on pursuing our goals in ways that are fun rather than ways that feel more efficient. This actually gets us to persist longer and we’re more likely to succeed.
When my friend Katy was in graduate school, she put this theory to the test. Since the new Harry Potter audio books had just come out, she made a promise to herself to only listen to them while on the treadmill. She found that she looked forward to her workouts at the end of a long day. She craved going to the gym because she couldn’t wait to find out what would happen to her favorite characters. Temptation bundling kept her going back to the gym…