Don’t Break Old Ones, Build NEW..

The Little Book of Talent by Daniel Coyle

“When it comes to dealing with bad habits, many of us try to attack the problem head-on by trying to break the habit.  This tactic, of course, doesn't work, and we're left with the old truth-habits are tough to break.  The blame lies with our brains.  While they are really good at building circuits, they are awful at unbuilding them.  Try as you might to break it, the habit is still up there, wired into your brain, waiting patiently for a chance to be used.

The solution is to ignore the bad habit and put your energy toward building a new habit that will override the old one.  A good example of this technique is found in the work of the Shyness Clinic, a program based in Los Altos, California, that helps chronically shy people improve their social skills.  The clinic's therapists don't delve into a client's personal history; they don't try to “fix” anything.  Instead, they focus on building new skills through what they call a social fitness model: a series of simple, intense, gradually escalating workouts that develop new social muscles.  One of the first workouts for a Shyness Clinic client is to walk up to a stranger and ask for the time.”

“To build new habits, start slowly.  Expect to feel stupid and clumsy and frustrated at first- after all, the new wires haven't been built yet, and your brain still wants to follow the old pattern.  Build the new habit by gradually increasing the difficulty, little by little.  It takes time, but it's the only way new habits grow.”


What is a habit that you would like to replace with a new one? Will you begin today?

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Quotes from: Daniel Coyle, The Little Book of Talent (New York: Bantam Books, 2012), pages 102-103 .

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