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3 Simple Reasons Why Your New Habits Just Won’t Stick

When it comes to change, we’re our own worst enemy.

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BY Andy Molinsky - 09 Jan 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

It's a time-honored tradition at the end of year to make lists of our New Year's resolutions - of all the ways we're planning on bettering ourselves in the upcoming year. But despite our best intentions, many of us struggle to actually follow through on our promises. And it got me thinking: We regularly make lists of our ambitions and intentions. But how about a corresponding list of our avoidance mechanisms? The things that hold us back from achieving personal and professional growth?

With that in mind, here is my list of the top 3 avoidance strategies I regularly see in my work. I'll be curious to see my list compares to yours.

1. Substitution.

With substitution, you take that lofty, but anxiety-provoking goal, and replace it with something less stressful - but also less effective. For example: You know going to more networking events will help your career, but you're terrified of putting yourself out there. So, instead, you do a bit on LinkedIn and call it a day. That's certainly less stressful, but will it really enable you to achieve your professional goals?

2. Procrastination.

In Latin, the word procrastination means "on behalf of tomorrow" - in other words, you put off until tomorrow what ideally should be done today. For example, if your new year's resolution is to be more proactive with your boss in asking for assignments, you spend countless hours scripting your "perfect" message - waiting until you have it just right. And in the meantime, another colleague swoops in and takes the assignment, or your boss just decides to go in another direction.

3. Justification.

With justification, you rationalize away the relevance and importance of your resolutions in the first place. You know you need to go to networking events to get leads for your business, but it stresses you out to talk with people you don't know... So you tell yourself it's not that that important you go to that networking event (even though it really is) - and that you can easily find contacts in other ways (even if that's unlikely, or if the networking event really is your best bet). At the core of justification is self-protection. And by protecting yourself from fear, you also stunt your personal growth.

So there you have it: My top 3 avoidance strategies. Any of these seem familiar to you? And most importantly, how are you going to work on combating them in this new year?