The Blog.

Hooks and Habits – when motivation alone is not enough

18 Jan 2011 | Personal Productivity

Have you ever gotten really fired up about something, motivated to make a change, to start something new, stop an old habit or just to do life differently?

Perhaps you’ve been inspired at an event, like I was at Carrie Wilkerson‘s Momentum Mastermind group this weekend. Perhaps entering into a new year or a sudden situation has caused you to reevalute.

Then somehow despite the initial motivation, have you ever found day to day life to settle back in and then nothing much changes?

While I was away this weekend I called home to catch up with my husband and kids, and one thing he told me about where he hung his coat had me in fits of laughter.

Let me explain, my husband is… um let’s say much more ‘spatially aware’ than me, and one thing about the chaos that comes with having kids (at least our kids) and being married to me, is that the house does get cluttered easily.

One of his big bugbears has been the hallway. Walking through the front door into a pile of coats, bags and shoes, or sitting down to dinner and finding his chair weighed down with coats, has frustrated him to distraction. Until last weekend when he finally he got round to putting up some coat hooks. Trust me, this was cause for major celebration!

But get this: despite finally solving the problem that’s caused him months years of frustration, he’s still finding himself hanging his coat up on the chair!

By contrast, the kids have taken instantly to using their new coat hooks. In fact, Catherine, who’s nearly two, races in, pulls at her coat then babbles at me to hurry up and take her coat off so that she can hang it up. I guess children are surrounded by so much change, in their growth and understanding of the world around them, that they adapt much easier and quicker than us.

For the rest of us, sometimes our habits are so strong, motivation alone is not enough to change them. And they are strong because they were once formed to make our lives easier – so we don’t have to consciously decide where to put our coats every day. But as times and circumstances change, we often carry round those habits with us long after they’ve served their purpose, perhaps weighing us down a bit like our kitchen chair with the pile of coats on.

So when circumstances change over time, we need to address habits that are no longer useful, break the pattern and intentionally set new ones.

Hmm… makes me wonder what else I do on a daily basis simply for habit’s sake?

Image credit: Flicker/Vintage Lulu


  1. Peggy

    I have the same hallway problem… Shoes coats umbrellas no matter how hard I try it lasts a couple of days and we are back to old habits… Good point there not easy to break a habit and agree that motivation sometimes is not enough 🙂

  2. Grace Marshall

    Thanks for your comment Peggy – I knew we weren’t the only ones 🙂

  3. shellintons

    We have a similar issue. Got coat hooks for girl, they use them. We still use chairs and the banister rail :/ Just the rest of the house to look at now 🙂 I won’t mention my habit of using the ‘guest’ sofa to sort my washing. * looks elsewhere for something to distract me from it* XD

Image if author Grace Marshall

About Grace

I coach, train, write and speak on productivity. I help people adopt new ways of working and thinking about their work to replace stress, overwhelm and frustration with success, sanity and satisfaction.

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