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Stronger Than You Know By Dena Betti

Dena Betti

Why Starting Fresh This New Year May Be Harder than it Sounds

Stronger Than You Know By Dena Betti


For most of us the New Year brings hope for a brighter tomorrow.  Deep in our core we are all striving to improve our personal story.  We want to look great, feel great emotionally, and have enough money to experience all the things we dream of. It’s a pretty simple formula, right? And I’d be the first one to champion you to reach for the stars this new year, but the bitter fact of the matter is, for most of us, not much will change unless we learn to create new patterns and habits in our lives.  I’m guessing that last sentence may not sound that encouraging, but hear me out because there is a simple solution.

I read once that habits are both a blessing and a curse. I completely agree, and let me tell you why. Our daily habits make life predictable, which in turn gives us daily direction and, for the vast majority of us, keeps us alive another day. That’s a blessing. But the primitive “fight or flight” part of our brain loves predictability and absolutely disdains change, and that can be a curse. But why?  

The simple reason our brains find change so uncomfortable is because our brains do not have to work hard when daily routines are predictable.  Think back a million years ago when our survival depended on our ability to avoid being eaten for dinner by a saber-toothed tiger. Our brains had to work on over-drive. But we are not designed to sustain this degree of heightened response for long periods of time, thus, the reason our brains love habits and predictability. They allow our brain to relax.  And one last point, although the saber-toothed tiger is long gone from being an ongoing human threat, we still are driven by this primitive part of our brains that makes change and personal development very challenging. Predictability equals survival, but it does not necessarily equal quality of life. So, how do we create lasting change and improve the quality of our lives when the primitive part of our brain stubbornly does not want us to change?  

Well, the answer may be easier than we think. Knowing that this part of our brain loves predictability and hates change, the number one way to respect the role it plays in our survival is to work with it, not against it. That means slowing into the change you desire little by little by doing very small motivated task daily.  Let me put some context around this so it makes this lesson come to life.

Ten months ago, a client of mine who struggled terribly with procrastination and felt very stuck in her life took on a very simple challenge I helped her create. She was tasked with caring for one procrastinated item a day. They were very small tasks that took only minutes to complete. Before long, she painlessly found herself doing more and more towards her desired goal. Ten months later her life has transformed. By taking small, manageable daily steps towards her larger goal, she tricked the primitive part of her brain and is continuing to win it over. 

And what’s great is we can all do the same thing.  So remember, if the predictability of your life is not serving you, then there is a solution. Start taking small, consistent, daily-inspired actions and watch your life transform in 2019.

Dena Betti is a graduate from the University of San Francisco, executive director of #hersmile Nonprofit, and a certified life coach. Limited personal coaching slots are available, or sign-up for a Habits to Happiness workshop. Visit