Humans are creatures of habit; meaning that we tend to do the same things in the same way at the same time.  We develop routines that allow us to repeat patterns of behaviors without wasting time and energy deliberating about what to do.  These routines then evolve into habits and those habits become automatic allowing us access to quick responses to our daily life choices.  Without these habits we would have too many possibilities for the most basic tasks.  Imagine pondering whether to eat first then shower or vice versa.  Our brains could come up with a thousand reasons for one way or the other without any resolution after many hours have gone by.   Habits allow us to navigate the mundane repetitive aspect of our lives on autopilot conserving brain power for the more complex and challenging ones.  The issue is, how do we condition our minds to handle tasks that we find difficult when habitually we are wired to view them negatively?

Habit Formation

Everything we do, feel or think is reflected in the circuits of neurons in our brains that communicate with one another though chemicals.  Once these circuits are formed, when one fires the others do as well strengthening the whole circuit.  Habitual behaviors are impacted by this because the interconnected neurons maintain our habits while our habits strengthen those circuits resulting in said habits becoming second nature.  What this means is, the more you do the something, the more likely you are to do it in the future without even thinking about it. The down side to this is, our habit-driven brains don’t distinguish between good and bad behaviors.  Rather it stores repeated behaviors, thoughts and feelings that are easily recalled when something is familiar and even if these habits aren’t particularly good, useful or helpful they are comforting.  So how do habits influence our behavior regarding tasks we find challenging?


When faced with a difficult task have you ever wondered what makes it difficult?   Is it that it is mentally or physically challenging or is it because our brains tend to look at things that require eff

ort negatively?  Research shows we are naturally wired to avoid things that make us feel uncomfortable especially when we are tired or stressed.  Our brains try to conserve mental energy by directing our focus to the most readily available, recallable information to help us make decisions quickly such as habits.  So let’s explore the reasons why we may find FAULT with or deem certain tasks as difficult.  

Focus – studies show that people focus when they have clear goals or expectations and have the capacity or resources to complete the task at hand.  When we view a task as difficult we become distracted easily and lose focus.

Apathy – people have a tendency to lose interest in tasks or activities that they don’t find engaging or meaningful.  These tasks become difficult when they can’t muster up the energy to care enough about completing them.    

Unhealthy Rut – once we develop and maintain a habit of avoiding anything that makes us uncomfortable we can fall into a rut of running from it.  Unfortunately this doesn’t resolve the issue but rather makes it worse.  You risk developing an even more unhealthy habit that teaches your brain to automatically evade anything that seems too hard rather than working through it. 

Lack of Time – this is probably the greatest excuse, for anything we find difficult or don’t want, to do of all time.  Being too busy to work on our goals or difficult tasks indicates a lack of focus not time. 

Things you dislike – as people we don’t know how to do things that we dislike, we automatically see them as challenges because it is outside of our comfort zone and avoid them at all costs.

How to accomplish Difficult Tasks

First things first, you need to understand what makes you see certain activities, situations or tasks as challenges.  This would be an ideal time to evaluate your routines and environments attempting to gain insight into the habits and behaviors that make you approach such tasks negatively.

Secondly take on difficult tasks when you are in a good mood.  Studies show that anything we attempt to accomplish when were not in the good frame of mind automatically becomes more difficult.  Before diving in try doing something meaningful like journaling, practicing mindfulness or listening to that song that makes you feel invincible, get those endorphins flowing.

Lastly incentivize yourself.  When faced with a choice our brains often want to default to the easiest option but we have the power to reimagine tasks making them more enjoyable and rewarding.  It is important to remind yourself how good you will feel once it is complete and once complete reward yourself for job well done.  

Here at the Dismas Home of New Hampshire we understand that some tasks are just naturally more difficult than others, that’s just life; but we firmly believe that every situation is only temporary and anything can accomplished with a little hard work and dedication. 

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