I Can’t Form New Habits

I Can’t Form New Habits

I have a confession to make: I’ve never stuck with anything. As a child, I tried countless hobbies, all given up within a few months. No matter what, I couldn’t find anything I liked long enough to stick with it for a long time. Fast forward to adulthood and I’m a jack of all trades; master of none.

The problem has grown beyond just hobbies and interests; I can’t form any new habits. I’ve tried everything – accountability, setting alarms, small rewards, and no matter what I can’t form any new habits. I’m the kind of person who has to always be improving; never standing still. I must always be moving forwards, making progress towards something bigger. It’s very easy for me to feel useless or unproductive. I want to be the best version of myself; but how can I do that if I’m always falling at the first hurdle?

I told myself I’d get up earlier; but every morning I turn off my alarm and go back to sleep.

I told myself I’d write a page in my notebook every single day. But after 2 days I’d forgotten all about it.

I told myself I’d exercise at least once a week, but a week is over in a moment. Before I knew it weeks had turned to months and I didn’t see the point in carrying on any more.

I’m an overly ambitious procrastinator, and it’s a terrible combination. I want to achieve great things – but I’ll do them tomorrow. And in 2019 there are more distractions and excuses than ever. Social media, endless TV shows, smartphones with millions of mind numbing free games. It’s like I’ve already planned to fail, so I don’t bother starting, or putting my all into it.

starting habits calendar new year

I’ve been sitting on a book idea for years, and no matter which way I approach it, I can’t get it written down. I’ve used National Novel Writing Month to encourage me, used whatever spare time and motivation I had, and tried to get into the habit of writing every day. But I still have hardly a chapter. As time goes on I get more and more upset about this because I realise I don’t have all the time in the world to accomplish all my goals, and I’m terrified at looking back on a life full of missed opportunities and regrets.

Time out seemed counter-productive, but I was so desperate at this point that I was willing to try anything to better myself. I’ve deleted all the social media apps on my phone. Having Twitter in my pocket at all times was a major distraction, and now I hardly use it. I make my goals smaller and less time based. So ‘exercise once a week’ is now ‘exercise more often’. This can take the pressure off and stop me crumbling under impending deadlines.

I’m also not going to have a set day for blog posting anymore, because again, the time pressures put me off it more than they motivate me. So from now on I’d like to post whenever I feel like it. Blogging is supposed to be fun, after all.

I may struggle with discipline, but I’m starting to make small steps in the right direction.

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4 Comments

  1. February 14, 2019 / 1:41 am

    I love your take on creating habits and agree that sometimes, the time frame we put on ourselves is stressful. I remember trying to wake up at 6am and develop a morning routine but i went about it the wrong way by diving right into it when I should’ve treaded slowly.

    Excercising is a big one for me too and I’ve only just started to accept the fact that even walks are suitable and I don’t have to force myself to go to the gym 5 times a week or something to increase my fitness.

  2. February 14, 2019 / 7:32 am

    This is such a great post! The whole premise of CBT is about forming new habits and we’re all supposed to l think it’s totally achievable. I agree with you – forming new habits isn’t possible for everyone. I’ve spent a lot of my life blaming myself for having mental health problems that aren’t fixable with habit forming. This is NOT my fault!

  3. February 14, 2019 / 1:31 pm

    I struggle with the same thing! I am an overly ambitious procrastinator as well! It can be hard, but I had to learn to set a lot smaller, realistic goals for myself that work towards the big picture or I won’t do anything!

  4. February 15, 2019 / 10:24 am

    I am honestly so grateful to you for writing this. This is a pattern I’ve noticed in myself in the last 6 months and it’s been troubling me a lot. I’ve struggled to express it and you’ve described it so perfectly here. For me, my perfectionism and impatience tends to be what trips me up. I become easily frustrated if I can’t do something perfectly, even when I’m just at the beginning stages of learning something.

    I’m glad you’ve found an approach that works for you. I’m happy to know you’re taking steps in the right direction and hope you continue to do so!

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