If you are thinking in the near future to change or create new positive habits, this section will be imperative to read.
Retraining yourself into a new habit requires a lot of energy.
The brain at rest takes up about 20 percent of your caloric input i.e. what energy you put into you via food intake. Every time you decide or switch from one task to another in your brain, your calories (glucose level) drops – this is not a problem if you are doing a few things. But if you are continually making decisions, running back and forth between tasks, distractions and projects, you are inevitably draining and burning yourself out.
Many people try to take on too many or too complex habits on too fast and too soon.
Whenever you take on a habit: part of that habit involves resisting falling into old patterns or habits. e.g. if you are trying to lose weight and your new habit is to eat right, then that automatically implies that you need to resist falling into the temptation of eating unhealthy foods.
This resistance is reflected in your brain’s capacity to resist distractions, impulses and addictions that may not be healthy for you. The brain does have the capacity to resist, however like all brain functions, this requires energy: finite sources of energy in your body i.e. it takes energy to resist that unhealthy snack that you crave. If you get the craving every few minutes, you can imagine the drain in your energy; what happens is as the brain detects an energy lowering, it ‘thinks’ that you are in survival or danger mode and in order to conserve further energy, it shuts down your critical conscious parts of your brain that are used for resisting these temptations.
So if you take on too many new practices or habits simultaneously, your brain has to resist even more so, all the old habits, distractions, temptations and dastardly habits that have led you astray in the past.
This is a lot of work and I call it ‘working against your biology’.
So taking on too many new habits and practices at the same time is increasing your chances of failure. A more sane approach may be to pace yourself by starting with one or maybe max two new habits first. Make sure that you get these to be ‘automatic’: your brain if trained well, will put these habits more or less into an automatic category requiring far less energy to operate. At that point, you will have more energy to take on a new habit.
These cycles may take up to 3 to 4 to 6 months for each new set of habits. But this way of creating and enforcing habits works much better than the old way of cramming yourself with new habits and failing.
Add to that the fact that when you fail, you have to deal with reduced motivation and confidence in your new habit forming abilities, and the argument is sealed – it will be better to pace yourself and do a few habits right .. then to fail and keep failing at creating new habits that increase and improve the quality of your life.