Nope, creating habits doesn’t get harder as you get older… everything gets harder.
I heard on The Brian Buffini Show a story of a golfer who won whatever golfers win (golf is totally NOT my thing) after 50.
This golfer said he realized he just needed to put more effort than previously into his practices when he got older. He still could be an excellent golfer; he just needed to try harder.
But it only goes as far as your physical limitations. You try to exercise more and your body is more prone to injury. You are trying to develop a new habit, but your memory cheats you and you forget about starting the habit in the first place.
On the other hand, from all the research I’ve done, plenty real-life observations, and my own vast experience, it’s actually easier to develop new habits as you get older — exactly like with all other skills.
In simple terms, human beings are biologically wired for practice. Whatever we consistently do, it gets reinforced in our brains at the physiological level. Including habits. At the beginning, repetition creates the neural paths in your brain, and later on those paths are covered with myelin — a substance that reinforces and quickens neural impulses.
So, if you are a bright 25 year old, full of vitality and straight out of The Fishing University, you still are outclassed — by an order of magnitude — by a seasoned 70 year old, who spent his whole adult life on the fishing boats. You didn’t practice. He did; a lot.
The same goes with habits. If you get the basics of the science, if you practiced a lot, creating new habits gets easier for you, even when you get older. Actually, a bright 25 year old who never tried to consciously develop a habit will have a much harder job than you.
Practice makes perfect.
The only reason for the habit creation to be harder with experience is saturation. Every human has only so much time and energy. It’s harder to cram the 51st habit into your schedule than the 11th.
I know what I’m saying — I have dozens of daily habits, and I know everything about the habit theory. But every time I’m trying to be overly ambitious — either by starting too many habits at once or too big habits — my well-established habits suffer.
I broke habit streaks counted in thousands of days, when introducing a new habit (or a few). Practically each daily habit with hundreds of repetitions is at least semi-automatic. Yet, the finite human nature can take only as much at the time.
Everything gets harder as you get older. That’s biology.
Everything gets easier with practice. That’s biology too.
So, with good habits, like with planting a tree, the best time to create one was 20 years ago. The next best time is now. Start practice ASAP, so it gets easier.
For the first steps, I recommend the free Tiny Habits course. Or my own Infallible Framework for Habit Development.
Originally published at Quora.com.