Expertise: Creatures Of Habit

Press Play Button Below, Synchronize Reading & Listening "Habits Podcast" *An Audio Blog*

Know-how gets you in—and out—of ruts.

Humans are creatures who follow a set of habits and routines. We create behaviours and habits that will last a lifetime, just as it takes us 20 years or more to form our adult personalities. Unfortunately, some of those habits and actions aren’t always healthy or beneficial to our well-being.

We keep doing things that don’t get us the results we seek for four main reasons:

  •  The Fallacy of “Sunk Cost.” Keeping your focus on what you’ve already put in, such as time, money, and effort may keep you stuck.
  •  The film Pipe Dreams. Thoughts of fleeing to Tahiti or winning the jackpot may make you feel better, however are unlikely to result in meaningful change.
  •  Thinking with your heart. Longer hours at a more difficult job may result in a promotion, but it may not.In the meantime, you may become exhausted.
  • Intermittent Reinforcement is a type of reinforcement that occurs regularly. Rather than becoming stuck at a dead-end, objectively assess if things are improving overall.

Here are five techniques to get you moving again if you’re stuck in one of these four mindsets:

  1. Accept and Embrace Regret

While regret may prevent you from taking action, research suggests that counterfactual thinking can encourage you to take action. There are two types of counterfactual reasoning, one of which has a good outcome. Let’s say you’re unemployed because you didn’t get the job you desired.

Downward counterfactual reasoning could be used —“Well, things could have been worse. Try upward counterfactual thinking, which involves picturing a better alternative that allows you to see how you might have done or reacted to find a solution. You realise as you reflect on the interview that you could have been more candid. As a result, you alter your interview behaviour in the future and receive a job offer.

  1. Recognize your comfort zone

To get out of your rut, figure out what’s keeping you there. You could be stuck in your comfort zone, in a setting that reminds you of your youth. Those who grew up in loving and supporting households are much less likely to get into a negative pattern. Those who grew up in emotionally abusive circumstances, on the other hand, may develop a comfort zone that feels comfortable but is nevertheless damaging. When you’re attempting to get past a bad situation, ask yourself this question: Does any part of this situation sound familiar? Understanding the source of your responses is the first step toward getting oneself moving.

  1. Set Goals That Are Achievable

We can become overwhelmed by the amount of change required to break out from a rut, which keeps us stuck. Set achievable interim targets to solve this problem. Be aware that we tend to overestimate our talents or incorrectly ascribe failure to events outside our control. Be brutally honest with yourself about how your skills match up with the goal you’ve set. Pull back and learn mental contrasting if your aim seemed unattainable.

  1. Make use of mental contrast

Mental contrasting keeps you inspired by the desired future while keeping you grounded in the measures required to overcome obstacles. To do so, consider your ideal future while also considering the short-term obstacles that stand in your way. Simply picturing the future (indulging) or worrying about potential difficulties (dwelling) will not motivate you to take action and may even keep you stranded.

  1. Apply critical thinking skills 

We are all susceptible to cognitive distortions, one of which is a mix of magical thinking and cause-and-effect misattribution. That is something that others do as well. You credit something positive to the prayer you said, the candle you lit, or the lucky outfit you wore. Stop inferring cause and effect like Skinner’s superstitious pigeon to get out of your rut. It will only prolong your stay on the hamster wheel.

Accept the circumstances instead. So you’ve gotten yourself into a rut. Also, figure out what’s causing it. Examining why you’re trapped in a rut can help you begin to pull yourself out. Take a deeper look at your goals and make minor changes if you’re caught in a rut. Remember to take care of yourself and give your brain a break. Be more impulsive, and above all, have a realistic approach to things.