What you can do to change bad habits into something good? Is brute-force willpower the only way? Maybe not. Read on for Get-It-Done Guy's alternative.
Get-It-Done Guy fan Carmen writes:
"I'm a student on summer break. I've been making good choices: ordering healthy food, devoting time to studying, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. I have the willpower to make these good choices now. But will it last? How can I keep making good choices back at school, when I’m busy and stressed?"
Carmen, you’ve put your finger on the very crux of the paradox of human existence. We love the idea of willpower! Only it’s vastly overrated. Research into how people change shows that willpower is rarely the key. Developing new habits is.
Habits make us great! We figure something out, make it a habit, and never think about it again. It becomes a building block for new behaviors. But our habit-forming ability isn’t that smart. If we wear plaid pants with a fluorescent paisley shirt, and the boy, girl, or intersex we have a crush on compliments our “outfit,” our brain thinks, “Woo hoo! Paydirt!” We form a new habit and never wear tasteful clothes again.
Old Behaviors Never Stop
When you first create a habit, you form the basic neural connections. If you try to change later, the old connections are still there. You must unlearn them or override them. That’s why I try to learn new things right from day one. It’s much easier than learning bad habits and then correcting them.
Under stress, you revert to your earliest learning. School stress probably turns you back into a 10-year-old whose idea of a fun meal is eating pizza. Through your nose. Hilarious, right? And at college, the night before a final, we’ve all done it.
To change your habits at school, you need to reprogram your brain. Here's how...