Why Are Good Habits So Hard to Maintain?

The 30/60 blog challenge is over, and I made a commitment to blog twice a week. It’s now Friday, and I am scrambling to get a blog post published today. What’s up with that?

I succeeded. I achieved my goal. And so I tell myself I deserve a break. But that break takes me out of the positive habit I had been building. My motivation is low. I want to watch movies or play games instead of writing.

No Junk FoodI notice this with other positive habits in my life, too. As soon as my stress levels increase for whatever reason, out go the good habits and the bad ones leak out all over the place. I stop journaling, meditating, and exercising. I start eating junk food and seeking escape in games and movies.

I know what keeps me healthy in body, mind and spirit. And most of the time I find joy in doing those things. Then some kind of speed bump happens and it completely derails me. I have to begin the uphill climb of re-establishing my positive habit

They say it takes 21 days to change a habit. And that you can’t just stop a bad habit, you have to replace it with something else. I’ve been exercising three times a week for more than a year, eating a healthy, raw lunch for about a year and a half, and meditating daily for over two years. Definitely more than the 21 days, though admittedly with some speed bumps along the way.

So why is it so easy to fall back into old patterns? I don’t have any answers. I wish I did. Perhaps I can take a little solace in knowing that I am recognizing and catching myself in old patterns more quickly than I used to. I’d really like to understand why they are not gone, though.

I don’t think it’s because I’m lazy. Even when I’m slacking I tend to accomplish more than I give myself credit for. I’d just like to stop falling “off the wagon” when it comes to the things I know are healthy for me.

If you have any insight, or can point me towards any resources that address this, I’d love to hear from you. Even if you just want to let me know I’m not alone, I’d appreciate your comments below.



3 Responses

  1. Hi Mary,
    Well, I have something to opine here.
    Habits are typically what people practice. Did you know that from a kinestheologic point of view, it takes 17-18 times of doing something right for it to become ingrained as the primary default? (e.g., shooting an arrow on the bullseye 17 times in a row. If there is one miss before the 17, then you start over… before the new behavior becomes ingrained in the body.)

    Habits are similar to this – even though they are not always body-based coordinations, they are often what is practiced most – rather than the “good” or new behavior. A story… years ago, I was in college to study music. I would walk down the halls and hear all the studious types practicing over and over – making mistakes over and over. And then one day I realized…..they were practicing THEIR MISTAKES! This was a huge awakening for me. That day I started practicing smarter; I taught myself how to practice clean notes, instead of practicing the mistakes. My skills began to soar the rest while I practiced the LEAST amount of time of any of the others. (BTW, yes – I’m happy to trademark this technique if anyone knows who I could sell it to!)

    Besides habits being most people’s favorite practice, I’ve also experienced and seen in others a second phenomenon that can lead to one “falling off” an intended commitment. That is that we may not be in complete alignment with the WHY we have chosen a particular goal. What I mean is that over time, our values will win out over a mindset or determination. We can be determined in the short haul, but if we are unclear, or our reason for choosing the commitment to begin with is not strongly connected enough to our values certainty, then we can veer. Our inner conflict brings to mind all the other things in life we are so deserving of, and then those energies start to convince us, rationalize, tell us there’s something else more important, etc. And sometimes that’s true! So it’s all good. When we veer off course, there is a message waiting for us……a greater truth! Blessings and light, Tessa.

  2. P.S. I hope this helps you find some insight in your process. And thank you as always, for keeping it real!!
    Tessa Alburn recently posted..Working Through Judgment

  3. Thanks, Tessa! Those are some great insights. 🙂