We’ve all been there – a particular behavior causes us problems so we make a concerted effort in order to change our direction. For some, this is a lack of initiative or communication, disorganization, complaining, blaming, etc. – the list goes on and on.
A lot of us make New Year’s resolutions, vowing to make changes to our behavior. The changes work for a while, and then we turn right back around toward our bad habits. Why does this happen and why is it hard to permanently change our direction? The answer is not a lack of will or ability. It lies in brain patterns. Each time we perform an action, we strengthen the neurotic pathways in the brain, making them easier to repeat.
A familiar behavior is like speeding down the interstate on cruise control. Changing ingrained behavior requires slowing down and trying a new road. As these new actions and attitudes are performed, new pathways are created in the brain. The more they are repeated, the more they become second nature and eventually they become the new interstate.
Tips to Make Permanent Change:
- Start Simple – identify the problem and break it down. What pattern would you like to redirect? Identify daily triggers of the habit you want to break and start with the obstacles that are easiest to overcome.
- Be Intentional – prepare your response in advance. When you have worked out the details ahead of time, you are more equipped to succeed.
- Keep Your Benefit in Mind – Remember the advantage you are creating for yourself. Set reminders where they are clearly visible.