We all have bad habits or even just attitudes or routines we would like to change because they are not healthy for us. While not all bad habits are truly harmful, it’s important to be able to discern what needs to change for us to advance in our personal and professional life. The internet is full of advice and tips from self-proclaimed gurus on how to shake off a bad habit, but that doesn’t mean their advice works for everyone.
Changing your habits is a huge step to take, but before embarking on this journey, you need to become aware of the most common pitfalls and misconceptions of effecting this kind of change. To help, nine members of Young Entrepreneur Council look at the most common habit change misconceptions and why they may impact your ability to successfully change.
1. Change Is Difficult
I’ve heard a lot of people say they can’t change their bad habits because change is difficult. I think that this is a poor mentality for someone to have, especially if they are missing out on lost potential due to bad habits. In reality, change is difficult, but it’s not that way forever. In fact, most people become dependent on their new, good habits in less than a month!
2. Going Cold Turkey Is the Only Way
A common misconception is that people have to make or break a habit all at once or not at all. As James Clear says in his bestselling book Atomic Habits, habits are “the compound interest of self-improvement.” Over time, small, incremental changes to your habits — both good and bad — will have a substantial impact on your life. Going cold turkey on a bad habit or all-in on a good one isn’t the only way to effect habit change.
3. Habits Can’t Change Overnight
People generally believe habits can’t change overnight. I think people get into a routine or rhythm with their life and they think that it’s just the way it is. However, I’ve often found that tearing off the Band-Aid all at once can sometimes return the best results. For example, if I’m going to eat better and exercise more, I can’t just wade into that or I’ll fall backward. You just need to dive in and go for it.
4. Technology Is the Perfect Fix
A common misconception I’ve seen is people thinking that technology is the perfect fix when trying to break a bad habit. While there’s lots of new apps, gadgets and tools available today, sometimes going old school may be the best to solve a workflow or communication problem. It’s easy to think that you need to download a solution, when going old school with a pen, paper and a whiteboard may be the best fit.
5. Motivation Is Enough to Keep You Going
A common misconception about forming habits is that motivation is enough to keep you going, but it isn’t. It takes much more than motivation to form a habit. If it’s already difficult for you to stick to something, then you need to find healthy ways to keep yourself motivated and continue pushing forward even when it’s the last thing you want to do.
6. Changing Habits Requires Daily Work
People think that changing habits or creating new habits means you have to dedicate hours each day without fail. But this isn’t how healthy habits are formed. Realistically, there will be days when you don’t feel motivated or simply don’t have time, and it’s important not to beat yourself up when this happens. Accept it as a challenge and continue moving forward.
7. Bad Habits Are Easier Than Good Habits
Many assume that bad habits are easier than good habits. That isn’t true. Both are easy — you just need to rewire your brain to be on track with the right habits! Bad habits only seem easier because you likely have trained yourself in the bad habit longer than the good habit. So, to change your habit, it simply takes time and discipline, and then that habit will become easier!
8. All “Bad” Habits Need to Be Changed
One of the most important qualities a person can have is to be self-aware. What could be considered bad habits for the masses could be beneficial for certain people. Take sleeping late, for example. This is commonly frowned upon, but some people thrive at night. They should embrace this habit rather than try and force change for the sake of common advice.
9. Giving Up a Habit Requires Starting a New One
A common mistake in this regard is wanting to give up one habit and start another quickly. Changing habits represents a transformation from something we have been doing constantly, either at work or personally, and abandoning it to start another habit immediately can generate a kind of shock and even rejection to this new routine. It is important to take things progressively until we reach adaptation.- Kevin Leyes, Leyes Media & Team Leyes, by Leyes Enterprises
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.