No one ever said change was easy. In fact, changing your habits–either by developing good habits or breaking bad ones–can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. It’s hard to change behavior because it’s such a deep part of who we are that we don’t even think about it, even while we’re doing it.
I’m sorry to say it, but if you try to change your habits, you’re probably going to fail a few times.
I know, I know. That doesn’t sound very reassuring coming from a company focused on building good habits! But this isn’t to psych you out. In fact, I’m arguing that these failures are a valuable component of making long-term changes to your behavior!
But first, let’s take a look at why it’s so hard to build good habits.
Why You Fail to Build Good Habits
You’re Trying Too Hard
If you’re like most people, when you want to make a change, you want to change everything. New diet, new exercise routine, new meditation practice, the list goes on and on. But that’s craziness! You’re only human, after all, and you wouldn’t expect anyone you know or care about to turn into a completely different person overnight. So why put that kind of pressure on yourself?
You’re Focused on the Wrong Thing
Let’s say you’re trying to quit smoking. If you are, you’re probably focused on one thing only: Life as a contented and craving-free non-smoker. It’s not uncommon for us to get so caught up in the results we’re trying to achieve that we forget to worry about the processes we have to put in place to get there. Habit change is about the journey, not the destination. When your focus is on perfecting your habit-changing system, the results will naturally fall into place on their own.
You Lack the Proper Support
Sometimes things are just hard! Changing a fundamental behavior of yours is no small task for anybody and struggling is inevitable. That’s why it’s so important to have a proper support system in place for when times get tough. Your support system can take on many forms. Maybe you have a friend from whom you can receive emotional support. You might also use an app like Fabulous to give you advice and hold you accountable. And, of course, you have to support yourself, which you can do by adapting your environment to suit your new needs or just by practicing a little self-compassion when you need it.
Why You Should Keep Trying
So, you might feel a little discouraged at this point, which is understandable! No one likes to hear that they’re going to fail no matter what. But failure isn’t absolute. In fact, failure is a vital and educational part of the change process. You’d never learn how to get back on your feet if you never stumble or fall. Here is why you should keep trying, even if you’re going to fail.
You’re Building Resilience
I bet if you looked at the bottoms of your feet right now, you’d find that they’re pretty rough and calloused. That’s because you’re constantly putting your feet through their paces, working them hard, and they’ve built up extra protective layers to prevent soreness and injury. Well, failure is one of many ways to build psychological callouses. You might feel self-conscious or ashamed the first few times you mess up, but eventually, you’ll come to accept failure as part of the learning process. When you’re more resilient, you bounce back more quickly and are more willing to try new things, which increases your chances of finding something that works for you.
You’ll Learn from Your Failures
Not only does failing make you stronger, it makes you wiser. Each failure is a lesson in what not to do. Instead of beating yourself up over it, which will make you feel bad and less likely to want to try again, use failure as an opportunity for self-reflection. Why did you fail? Was there something you could have done? Could you do that thing the next time this situation arises? Thomas Edison said it best: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
One Day, You Won’t Fail
Whether you know it or not, each time you try to build a good habit, your brain and body are working hard behind the scenes. You may not always feel like you’re making progress on your journey. In fact, sometimes, you may even feel like you’re going backwards. But each time you go to the gym or use one of the Fabulous guided meditations, you’re building up experience points, just like you might in a roleplaying game. And also like a video game, those points add up. One of these days, you’ll find yourself excited to go to the gym. You might realize you’re craving a piece of fruit instead of a muffin in the morning. But sooner or later, with enough time and effort, you will build those good habits you want. You just have to keep moving forward.
Keep Moving Forward
You may still find yourself discouraged upon hearing that failure is part of the habit change territory. If you are, it might help you feel better to know that everybody fails at something sooner or later. You are not defined by your failures. Making mistakes or backsliding are not signs of your inadequacy. No matter how much you mess up, you’re still worthy of love and respect.
Behavior change is not a linear path. Enjoy the journey, even the less glamorous parts of it. Know that people value effort and respect people who can pick themselves back up after a setback. And know that we at Fabulous are always here to cheer you on