I have a question for our readers - How many of you have a bad habit?
Exactly! We all have them, but here's something important to remember: We can both curb old habits and create new, better habits using our brain.
I want you to think about your "bad" habits as these strong neural pathways that your brain has built up. They're those old familiar paths that you know how to do so well (and then you can be really hard on yourself when you do them). But they are habits because they are strong responses you have developed in your brain - it's so easy to keep doing them! And so are your established "good" habits. I know you have those too.
This new year, how about we all promise to be kinder to ourselves about our bad habits and see them for what they are: proof that we have grown strong neural pathways in the past to develop habits, and inspiration that we CAN DO SO AGAIN.
It's going to be normal this January and February for all of us to slip down those familiar paths while we try to achieve our new goals and resolutions. Don't give up. Those slips are not proof that you can't change. Think of it as proof that you've done this before (built a habit) - and sure, change is hard.
But guess what? You can do hard things. Life is about how you handle adversity - not about avoiding it.
If you're worried that you can't build new neural pathways, watch this video about how the brain grows, and give yourself the time (many weeks) that it takes to practice new choices until those new choices finally feel as easy as your current choices are.
And use Effective Effort - don't just wish for a magic change. We have to do the work.
If you want some inspiration for the new year and your new growth mindset, try out a book like Peak by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool. It is chalk full of inspirational stories and strategies for reaching ever greater heights of excellence. Have a great new year being patient in pursuit of your mission of growth!
About Emily Diehl
Emily Diehl is Director of Professional Learning for Mindset Works. She works with K-12 educators, school leaders, and parents in helping to develop agency and life-long learning. She has contributed many lessons and experience to Mindset Works’ programs. You can reach her on Twitter @EmilyADiehl