Changing habits is one of the hardest things most of us will do. Especially for those habits that are linked to addictive social situations or substances. One of the two biggest habits that most people find impossible to change are food and alcohol. These two categories are triggered by so many things that it takes years to reverse the dependance on their negative influence.
One of the biggest hurdles I see people confront, is the urge to radically change deep ingrained habitual patterns over night. In fact a lot of advertising surrounding food in particular, purposely promotes a quick fix to weight loss or healthier lifestyles. And what happens? People who engage with these schemes see a very fast improvement, coupled with an equally fast decline that sends them worser off than they were originally.
I think a big reason to this phenomenon lies in deprivation. When you feel deprived of something, say your trying to stop drinking alcohol when you are usually a daily drinker, eventually your mind and body are going to rebel against such a drastic change of habit. Although you may be able to get through a couple weeks without drinking a drop, if you give in to your deprived mind, you are likely to drink heavier than before. This sets you back a few steps. Even though your initial intentions were honorary, such a quick fix approach in most cases is harmful to your overall efforts in changing your habit.
To successfully mould and create new habits and routines, you must be able to find your comfort zone of discomfort. What does that mean? Well you need to discover how many changes you can make without feeling deprived. So if we look back at food, you may be able to go without your daily dose of potato chips, but going without your coke, sausage roll, lunch time take-away and afternoon chocolate may very well leave you deprived. The trick is to find this stretch zone that challenges what you are used to, but is achievable without deprivation. This allows your mind to adjust to the small change, before adding more to the pot.
Sure this strategy will take a lot longer, but it is fool proof if persisted with. I have managed to get my diet down to almost 100% clean foods, not to mention the alcohol addiction I kicked, over the last 3 years by consistently staying in my comfortable stretch zone. This is the same way that I have crafted my early rising and gym habits. All of the overall disciplinary habits I now enjoy have been a process of living in the stretch zone and *being ok if I fail a few (or a thousand) times.*
Accepting that things do not change overnight is the first step. Once you are not attached to how long something will take to change in your life, you are set up for success. This strategy can be adapted to any habit you want to remove, or create. Just be aware that deprivation, leads to an eventual relapse, which leads to an exaggeration of the initial behaviour your trying to change.
So I urge you, do your best to avoid the quick fix and eventual deprivation of changing habits. Besides, it sucks feeling deprived. You shouldn’t feel bad when trying to do something positive for your life. If the path is not enjoyable, why would you do it?