The Rubberbanding of Habits (and How to Enjoy It)

the rubberbanding of habits

It’s tough creating new habits. Even when you make progress and create a new habit, it seems after awhile you slip back into old ways of doing things. It’s nothing to worry about. It’s normal. Let’s look at the rubberbanding of habits (and how to enjoy it)

The Rollercoaster of Success

If you’re anything like me, you don’t experience life at a constant speed. No matter how much I try to be consistent with my habits (and I’m very consistent) there’s still an ebb and flow.

Sometimes I’m on fire, and it seems like I just can’t stop, putting off bedtime until I finish just one more thing. Other times I don’t want to do anything and find myself just doing the bare minimum.

That’s okay. That’s just the rubberbanding of habits. It’s normal. Here’s why.

Our Brains Hate Change

There’s no way to make it simpler: our brains hate change. No matter how much life sucks, we prefer “the devil that we know”. Given options between the choice that’s comfortable and completely understood and the choice that seems better but somewhat vague, we will choose what we know and stick with it.

So when it comes to building positive habits, we often hit it with a lot of gusto. We move forward with a ton of energy. We make tons of progress on week one and feel like superheroes. By week two, we’re doing a normal amount, and by week three we’re falling behind.

That’s okay! It’s normal. It’s just the rubberbanding of habits: our brain trying to bring us back to equilibrium. Here’s how to make it work for you and even enjoy it.

Working with the Rubberbanding of Habits

Rubberbanding isn’t bad. It’s good. It’s your brains way of trying to get you back to normal.

At the same time, you want to make the habit your new normal. So what do you do? Here are three simple steps for making the most of and enjoying the rubberbanding of habits.

  • Recognize It: When you notice you are doing way more than normal, or less than you did before, recognize that you are rubberbanding. It’s okay. Recognizing it helps know what to do next.
  • Define Your Baseline: Oftentimes we rubberband because we take on too much. Instead of setting a paragraph a day of writing you had so much energy you decided to do 3 pages a day. Then, the pressures of life made it challenging, and you started to resent it. When you recognize you’re rubberbanding, realize you might be overcommitting. Go back to your daily goal and see if you need to redefine what your baseline goal is.
  • Stay Consistent: In order to make your mind accept your new habit, you need to stick with it. It’s better to write a sentence a day than intermittently write a paragraph. Find any level of action and do it consistently.

When you recognize rubberbanding, define the right baseline with your habit, and stay consistent with it so you can continue building good habits. The trick is simply to push yourself just a little more than what you had previously locked in.

That’s the way to continue to build good habits when rubberbanding occurs. Doing it right and accepting the ebb and flow is the best way to enjoy it and make the most of it.

David Bishop

David is CEO of Cedowin Productions, dedicated to helping you live your best life through positive habits. He has inspired tens of thousands to improve habits and communication through books, articles, workshops, and apps.

He is the creator of AweVenture, helping families enjoy fantastic, active experiences and Zombie Goals, literally making building healthy habits a game. He’s authored several books including How to Create Amazing Presentations, 7 Steps to Better Relationships, and The Man in the Pit, which helps people who have loved ones struggling with depression.

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