Internalizing Change

Note to my future self…

Today I caught myself thinking about how easy doing something seems once you internalize that behavior. This is a hard internal phenomenon to articulate but I will try my best.

In my experience, there are certain that seem really difficult until they’re not. For example, for me going to the gym seemed every day seemed like a preposterous idea until one day I woke up, went to the gym and the next day I did the same thing and haven’t stopped since then. To me this is very exciting because it feels like I suddenly unlocked a superpower. I leveled up in the game of life.

At the same time it feels puzzling because I am not sure what is driving this behavior. This is why this post is more or less an effort to unpack what’s going on. Although I am writing about this today, I’ve been thinking about it for a while and here are the patterns that come up time and time again:

  1. Realization of the difficulty: I have to be aware of the change that I want to internalize before I uhm internalize it. This might sound obvious but it really isn’t. I tend to know that I want to go the gym more but it’s harder to figure out what are the exact friction points and roadblocks (mental or otherwise) that are preventing me from succeeding.
  2. Desire to Change: I have to have a strong desire to change my behavior in order for me internalize it. Many times I’ve set goals about changing my behavior but I’ve just not cared enough about to actually do something about it. This probably makes it hard for my brain to cooperate and dedicate resources to something that I actually don’t want to do.
  3. Sequential Order: I’ve only been able to internalize one change at a time. I don’t know if this sounds weird but it’s true. I have a couple of theories about why this is the case but I suspect that it has something to do with my personal rate of optimal personal growth and the fact that internalizing any given change soaks up a lot of cognitive capabilities that might make “multi-tasking” impossible.

I am sure that there are more factors that come in to play but I am not fully aware of them. I think that thinking out loud about this is valuable because it means that I can be more intentional about the behavior that I want to internalize. It can also help explain why I haven’t been successful when I’ve tried to internalize more than one behavior at a time or why I can’t accomplish a goal that I set every year.

In any case, I will keep experimenting with this idea of internalizing certain behaviors and will report back with any updates.

Now back to work…