We sometimes struggle in our search to find the causes of our bad habits and our inability to overcome them. Why can’t I wake up early in the morning? Why can’t I control my temper? How can I stop wasting so much time on email?
We search for major causes that could be responsible for our problems, yet overlook the minor causes that are, nevertheless, contributing to our bad habits.
When you’re on a leaky boat, you might search for a massive hole that’s bringing the boat down, even though you can see some small holes in the boat. You ignore them because you think that there must be something larger that’s causing the boat to sink.
However, it’s possible that the only cause for the boat sinking is the collection of small holes that you can already see!
Your obsession with a “hidden hole” that you have yet to discover distracts you from what you can already do with the problems (small holes) you know about. Even if there is a large hole that’s sinking your boat, addressing the small holes would mean that you are making progress in overcoming your problem.
Suppose you are struggling to wake up early. You might attribute this to lack of motivation, not having a strong sense of purpose or another “high level” reason. But the real cause could just be that you over eat during dinner (and, therefore, you feel sluggish in the morning), or drink caffeine late at night or you aren’t getting enough sleep, or a combination of these factors. These are visible factors that could be contributing to your bad habit and which you can easily do something about.
Rather than trying to motivate yourself to wake up early, make a few changes to your diet and your schedule, and you could easily overcome your bad habit with an ounce of willpower.
Don’t overlook the small changes you can make while searching for major causes of your bad habits. Small holes can have the same damaging affect as a big hole.