The two-edged sword of our tendency to keep on keeping-on
We are creatures of habit. I am sure everyone is aware of this. Habits are hard to get started (think: beginning an exercise program) and also hard to break (think: driving the same way to work every day, even when you were meant to stop off somewhere on the way).
But it’s not just ingrained habits that are hard to start and stop. Pretty much everything that we do can gather momentum. Take writing this blog, for instance. I have been procrastinating for three hours this morning on getting this started, but now it is going, my fingers are literally flying over the keyboard with a mind of their own. I am not even thinking about doing anything else (well, I am now, because I just thought about not thinking about anything else and it triggered the thought…..stupid).
If you have read my recent newsletter on similar subjects, you will remember that we are wired to conserve energy and be as lazy as possible. Our brains like us to engage in the things that are easiest to do.
What’s the hardest thing to do?
And what is one of the hardest, most energy-consuming things we can do? Change. That’s right – change is hard work for us at a cellular level. Firstly, we need to analyse what we want to do and start to prioritise action, then we need to apply the brakes to the thing we are currently doing, and after all of that, we have to get organised and started on the thing that we think we should be doing instead. This burns a heck of a lot of our cognitive ‘fuel’. So our brain would prefer that we didn’t do it.
This is why it is hardest for us to change behaviours (or stick to new ones) when we are most ‘run-down’. If you are completely exhausted and are on a diet, then don’t walk past the cupcake shop!
Momentum: a blessing and a curse
You can see the two ways that this works and the pros and cons of this behavioural tendency. It’s hard to get going on the thing that you need to do. But, once you get going, you know it’s going to be hard to stop. The momentum is a blessing.
Put in the effort. Make the conscious choice. Start doing the things that make you most productive and successful.