How Your Habits Are Taking Charge of You (Instead Of You Taking Charge of Them)
HOW HABITS WORK
The truth is that most of us who are inconsistent or quit our journey are not lazy, do not give in too easily, and do try our best! Motivation and willpower are great tools to tackle short-term goals. However, long-term lifestyle changes require a different approach. Motivation naturally drops after we get started with the quest, and just living life depletes willpower.
Because this is how our brain is wired.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s divide the mind in the executive (or conscious) and habitual (or unconscious) parts. The conscious part is responsible for your rational thoughts and speech, while the unconscious part takes care of your emotions and reactions, as well as everything you do when you are on auto-pilot: driving, eating, brushing your teeth, and so on.
Guess which part of your brain controls your habits? You're right; the unconscious one.
Translation? Well, you cannot, for example, decide that from now on you will be going to the gym six times a week for an hour and a half each time. To be accurate, you can actually make this decision, but even if you do, it won’t matter—at least not after the first week.
Because you make these decisions with rational thought, using the conscious part of your brain. However, the conscious part of your brain has no control over habits. You’ve just decided to alter your habits, but the unconscious part of your brain is the habits lord and the boss! What you have control of is maybe the following week, but the following year? No. This is under the boss’ authority.
Did the unconscious part of your brain agree with your well-thought-out resolution to become a gym junkie? Not really.