Why is it so difficult to change habits?


With only a few days left until the New Year, we all make big lists of behaviors we want to change. So why do these lists always end in disappointment? James Prochazka of the University of Rhode Island has been studying this issue for more than three decades… Prochazka found that people who successfully change their lives for the better go through five stages: foresight, reflection, preparation, action, and maintenance.

  • pre-thinking phaseWe can call it a state of unconsciousness. There is no intention for any change. The person is either unaware of the problem, or has just begun to notice it.
  • thinkingNow the person realizes that he has a habit that he wants to change, but has not yet taken any action. For example, for a healthy diet: more fruits and vegetables, less processed food, knows that he needs to exercise regularly, but is not yet ready to act.
  • preparatory stagecan be seen as a stage of collecting information about the subject and planning. The preparatory stage is the most important stage. According to research, 50% of people who try to change behavior and skip this step go back to their old habits within 21 days.

I think getting support from a habit change expert is the most important step to start the process. Because knowing yourself so you don’t go back, watching the behavior that pulls you back as you take action, working on those steps, being aware of how you’re preventing yourself, is essential to building sustainable habits.

  • Action The preparation phase implements the plans developed and the information collected during the preparation phase.
  • support, This is the stage in which people work to prevent relapse and consolidate the gains made in action. Studies mention that for addictive behaviors, this stage lasts up to six months after the first act.

I can say that the most basic topic that I work with with my clients is the category of thought. Keeping a food diary at this stage allows them to see how they use food as a strategy in their lives, what foods they tend to eat. We call it self-esteem. Seeing the pros and cons, the person has now passed the stage of acceptance, where the pros outweigh, and he is aware of the need for sacrifices for the sake of this process. And he is ready to act and continue it. James Prochaska says that behavior change should be approached as if you were preparing for a major operation.

Now you can grab a pen and paper and start answering the following questions about the habit you want to change:

“How do I usually get in the way of taking action to achieve my goals?”
“When, how and in what form do I lose my energy?”
What thoughts are holding me back from moving forward?
“What will be the consequences of changing behavior for me?”

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