If it’s true that it takes 21 days to create a new habit, then some of you are feeling pretty good and are due some admiration and congratulations form the rest of us. And some of you are feeling a bit discouraged… especially if you’re struggling to improve some behavior because you want to be a good example for your kids.
Many of us are “good quitters.” We become expert at quitting smoking, starting a diet or buying a new calendar. Why, then, are so many of us thinking about whether or not we want to jump start a resolution or wait until next year to try again?
While writing about mental habits for another project I was reminded why our bad habits are so difficult to break: automation.
Habits are things that we’ve learned to do and practiced so much that we engage in them without even thinking about them. In order to change, we need to help move them to another ‘section’ of our brains. That seems to work better when we consciously set ourselves up to make the automatic behavior more difficult to do than the habit we’re trying to build. For example, if I don’t let my buddies Ben and Jerry live in the freezer it becomes far easier to stay in my slippers and jammies…. to stay out of the car… and to eat an apple…. than it does to eat too much yummy, high-fat ice cream.
What’s this got to do with our kids? It’s that pesky ‘power of example’ thing again. Is there a way that you can let them know about re-starting your goal – and maybe even get some support from them?
This might be a good idea for a couple for a few reasons. Both going public and asking for support increase your chances of success. Second, the opportunity to sit with your kids and talk about how habits are built and changed is a wonderful teachable moment.
Finally, they’ll get to see that Mom or Dad is able to pick up and move on when things don’t initially go according to plan.
And that may be the most valuable habit of all.