Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Half Habits? I don't buy it.

Here is an interesting article about learning new habits and breaking old habits. The idea discussed in the article of "half-habits" makes sense- but doesn't seem like it would work in the real world. To learn a new behavior you need to be 100% committed. Tell me what you think. Here is the full article.

Here is the part I disagree with:

"Half Habits

The most common approach to forming a new habit is to attempt to
create it with a single leap from your old way to the new way, without any
transition period. You smoke and you want to quit smoking. You drink coffee and
you want to cut it out of your diet. You don’t exercise and want to join the gym
to exercise on a daily basis. To achieve your goals, you rely on commitment and
But as you have experienced time and time again, your willpower
will dwindle a few weeks down the road (if you survive that long) and drag your
commitment down with it, leaving you with your old ways… if not worse!

That’s because to go from one way to a totally new way is unnatural. It comes as a
shock to your mind, body and soul and they will fight fiercely to return to a
way that is familiar to them.
What’s the solution, I hear you ask?
Well, that’s a good question, and I’m glad you asked it :)
A solution I would recommend would be to go for half habits.

What does that mean?
Rather than trying to commit FULLY to a new habit, you simply take a step in its
direction. For example, instead of immediately joining a gym in order to
become healthy, if your body has almost forgotten what “physical activity”
means, incorporate a mini-exercise routine at home. That way, you don’t feel
guilty that you’re not going to the gym every day, and you’re not taking
something on that will be met with resistance. It’s a small adjustment that you
won’t have difficulty keeping up. An advantage to half habits is that you
accept that you need to go through a transition period from old habit to new
habit. You accept this as something natural and not a failing on your

In my life I am either excercising or NOT excercising. It doesn't make sense to start half-excercising. It seems like more of an excuse.

I like this part though, it makes a lot of sense.

"Timeless Habits

One of the major obstacles we face in trying to adopt new habits into
our lives is simply that we don’t have the time to do so!
If you want to start exercising, you need to fit exercise sessions into your schedule. But that
involves some planning, and you might already have too many commitments that
stop you from squeezing in exercise into your busy week.

But that doesn’t mean you cannot develop new and positive habits!
Not having the time is no reason to remain stagnant. There are many small adjustments and changes we can do here and there that require no extra time whatsoever!
Do you need any extra time to replace coffee with green tea, or soft drinks with water?
Do you need any extra time to sprinkle your day with a few more smiles?
There are SO many ways we can move forward in life without needing to make any hefty
time commitments, and these changes will help us realize how easy it is to form
new habits and will also lead us to enjoy the many benefits these habits can
bring to our lives!


Half Habits: For all the habits you intend on adopting, instead of focusing on the
destination (forming the new habit fully), think of the next step you can take
in the direction of these habits and make a slight adjustment to adopting these

Timeless Habits: Come up with ways you can make simple changes to
what you eat, how you behave, etc. that can bring about positive results in your
life, without needing to free up any time on your schedule to form these new

What do you think? Can we learn new habits without even trying. It sounds like an oversimplification to me.

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