Breaking old habits and building new ones is difficult because we pit our will power against our subconscious mind. That’s like trying to hit a bulls eye by throwing darts faster and harder while the target is in another room.
Habits live in the subconscious, which helps us brew coffee in the morning while still half asleep. When we’re walking along dreaming of making the New York Times Bestseller List, it’s the subconscious that turns our eyes both directions before we step off the curb. This mechanism makes habits hard to break.
One simple technique can help. When trying to break old habits and make better ones, the key is identifying the triggers that prompt the subconscious into action. For instance, what is getting in the way of your writing time? The dirty dishes in the sink? Fear of failure? A need for excitement? Discover what triggers your bad habit and you’re on the way to changing it.
Form an if-then statement linking the trigger to your old habit with your new goal. Something like, when I see the dirty dishes, I will go straight to the computer and write. Or, when I feel the need for excitement, I will turn that energy into drafting juicy conflicts for my characters. Each time you follow the trigger to your new goal, it strengthens a new neuro-pathway in your subconscious mind.
It take time for the old path to give way to the new, so don’t be hard on yourself when you fall into your old unconscious habits. Accept that the old habit is strong and do not resist it. Research shows, what you resist, persists. Fighting the old habit with will power, actually strengthens it.
Don’t fight nature. Work with your subconscious mind. In 2013, I am working on identifying what triggers my self-critic into revving up. What about you? Do you dare take a peek under the waters of your subconscious?
Thanks to lavanyashukla.com for the image today.