Have you ever started a new activity, all excited and ready to go, only to drop it after just a few weeks? If you have, you are certainly not on your own.
I recently came across a statement that a new study suggests repetition is the key to developing a new habit.
It’s interesting that when we start our activity, it doesn’t actually have to be perfect before we start it, although we are all guilty of trying to make it really good so we are sure that it will be a success straight away. Think about a Yoga class for example. The number of people I’ve heard saying ‘I’m not very good at it’ to the instructor, it almost makes me think I need to be much better at it. But I usually manage to resist the thought.
But what I personally experienced is the expectation from myself that once I have made a decision to do something I will do this consistently. So after my house move last year I became a member of a local health club and decided that I was going to go twice a week to start with, to make it achievable. I frequently work evenings and I prefer evening workouts, so this sounded reasonable. Did I go twice a week straight away? A definite No. And it was hard, because when I didn’t go, I was very quickly beating myself up, no matter what the reason for not going was.
Fast forward 6 months, I still wasn’t attending classes as consistently as I had expected, but I started to go more often than not go. And then I started to notice that when I didn’t go, I actually really missed it. I wasn’t beating myself up as much, and I did feel pleased with myself when I did go.
After a year I can honestly say that unless there is something very important or out of ordinary happening, I do go to the gym twice a week. I believe I have done it so many times, it is ingrained as a habit in my brain. It is primarily the repetition that has done the trick. It is the very thing that happens when we do something many times. It might not be consistent to start with, but the more we repeat the activity, the more our brain records it as something that we want to do regularly. And the satisfaction and the feel-good factor is so remarkable that it propels you to keep going.
Have you experienced this with repetition? Have you found yourself doing something so many times that it becomes almost an automatic action, even though you might not have particularly enjoyed doing it when you first started the process? How could repetition help you create a consistent habit?
If you would like to have a chat about how therapy and life coaching could help you create a new healthy habit, get in touch. Call or text Anna on 07966151680, email firstname.lastname@example.org.