Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That StickStart 30 days trial now
Perhaps you tried to save money by following a budget. Or you attempted to learn a new language through an online class. Maybe your goal was to get out more and meet new people. At the start, your intentions were strong, passionate, resolute. Over time, you couldn’t maintain that commitment. And the outcome you wanted just hasn’t happened.
This is a common enough human experience: we want to make a change, and we form strong intentions. Supposedly that’s all it takes. Just think about how univocal common wisdom is on this subject, from “She just didn’t want it enough” to “Are you giving it your best shot?” This facile reasoning begins in early childhood (“Reach for the stars!”) and doesn’t let up until the very end, that stage of life when many of us will (unfortunately) have to “fight” against diseases such as cancer. The ethos is that your willpower is everything. Self-change therefore becomes a kind of test of our personhood—or at least our conscious part. Nike’s famous slogan may have begun with some irony, but the resolute quality of the message—and our receptiveness—has instead made it into the secular commandment that it is today: Just Do It. The corollary is this: if we aren’t (just doing it, that is), then we must be just choosing not to.