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3 Habit Myths That Stop You To Succeed

Written by: Eva Gruber, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Myths help us engage with a topic due to fascinating stories being told. But if it comes to your own wellbeing, cherished relationships at work and home, and needed peak-performance e.g. in a crisis, you wish to unpack habit myths that mislead you, am I right?

1. Go Big, Or Go Home

"I need to go running every morning for 30 minutes to lose 3 kilos ASAP", a new client kicked off a coaching session. He tends to aim for quick wins and turns restless on the way ‒ very common mental habits of our times. As he was already 7 days into his morning runs, I asked him how it went. "My whole body is in pain, and getting up in the morning doesn't come easy. Once I step into my running shoes, I hear this inner voice saying, "This is going to be hard on you today.". Once I am 5 minutes into my run, this harsh voice tells me: "You are not fast enough"."

As we explored how this makes him feel, he shared about his constant fear of failing, failing to find a way to make him feel well in his body. On top of that, he feels stressed about his new morning routine, as it's causing a negative ripple effect on his time management for the rest of the day ("It makes me feel behind on everything already."). A splash of shame due to "Not being sporty enough as everyone else, and sportiness is related to success, right?" and guilt due to the belief that "I shall rather manage my inbox in the mornings." tops his fear of failure.

The myth and common mentality of "Go Big, Or Go Home" has clearly hit my client. He believes in the lie that only by hyper-achieving in something can we earn our success and be recognized and praised by others. "I will feel well in my body and be more successful when I lose 3 kilos" is the lie my client told himself. What happens, though, is that once he might have lost weight, another lie steps in. Doing so, my client would chase the steepest (symbolic) mountain summit, but once he reaches the very top, he doesn’t bathe in his joy to have made it. No, he is unable to cherish how well his body feels. Being on this mountaintop, he would discover another, even higher one on the horizon and run for it restlessly.

Based on research, hyper-achieving behavior is the second biggest hurdle to creating a lasting habit. By setting the bar to success too high, we fail to keep up with the needed physical strength, the positivity to make it every day, the joy to follow through with it, the time to dedicate to it and sometimes even the money to afford it.

Having a hyper-achiever in you might feel great, as it helped you succeed many times. Your parents or an idol of yours might act this way too. But this behavior and habits come at very high costs.

Hence, get curious about where "Go Big Or Go Home" leads you in the end. Is it about time to change the route, but still be achieving in the end? How about achieving with more ease, joy, and lasting, good habits?

2. It Takes 21 Days To Build A Habit

"How long does it take to integrate a new habit into my life?", I too often get asked. As I did my studies at Stanford University, I learned that all these numbers as "it takes 21 or up to 90 days to form a habit" are not necessarily true.

If we look at this myth, we might find an angle to it, thinking "Us human beings need a timeline, a horizon to get to in order to achieve what we aim for.". This horizon might keep us engaged, as our rational mind believes in facts and figures and argues they are the remedy you need. But this horizon too often even pushes you over healthy boundaries on the way.

Yes, there are studies that show how many days are ideal, but the studies I engaged in showed a more logical and even sympathetic approach that truly works:

It is not about the number of days you get up that early in the morning to go for your morning run that make you succeed. It is about how big ‒ or better how small ‒ you make your new habit to lastingly succeed.

Having said that, let go of the 21-days or 90-days myth. Instead, make your new habit truly small in order to not only run a sprint, but a full marathon in the end. Let it grow only if it needs at all, and if growth comes with ease.

3. It's All About Rewarding Myself

People regularly share with me how much they enjoyed a nice dinner or a chocolate cake in their favorite cafe on the weekend, after following through with their new habit during the week. But very recently, a client honestly admitted: "I was surprised how ashamed I felt the very second after I ate that cake."

As I asked him why he felt ashamed, he took his time to answer. "Well, at this very moment, I did nothing to deserve it.", the hyper-achiever in him stated, being frustrated. "On top, eating a cake doesn't help me much to move forward in my behavior change, rather hinder me, does it?"

As we explored his emotional rollercoaster further, my client realized that there is no clear connection between the habit he successfully and gladly put into action during the week and the cake he tried to enjoy on the consequent weekend.

Doing so, we unpacked another myth about habit formation: The myth of rewarding oneself after a habit is done. But rewarding regarding our society's common understanding rather equals "to spoil me with something I don't often do or don't dare to do at all." But once you get this cake, pizza, glass of champagne, or any kind of uncommon pleasure, your mind chatter starts. You might start judging the circumstances like "This cake is not good for me.", or get restless by judging yourself, "I should know better than that.".

Having said that, rewarding yourself on weekends doesn't help your brain to act upon a new habit during the week. Why? A reward ideally sparks a positive emotion in you, like joy or gratefulness. But as the reward (hence emotion) is not happening directly after you do the habit, your brain simply cannot connect the dots. Even if you feel joyful or grateful after this juicy chocolate cake, it is a single, disconnected experience and does not strengthen your habit muscles at all.

Of course, there are more habit myths to unpack ‒ such as "I only need to be motivated.". Hence, what are the myths you believe in? Email me at

PS Don't miss out on my TEDx Talk about "The Power Of Bad Habits" here.

Follow me on LinkedIn and Instagram. Learn more about my support for Good Habits and Mental Fitness on my webpage.


Eva Gruber, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Eva Gruber is a Habit Coach, Mental Fitness Trainer (mental health and positive mind), Speaker, and International Best-Seller Author. She supports entrepreneurs, managers, and teams who “have too many hats on and by that too much on their plate” to improve their well-being, relationships, and peak performance. How? Through unmasking their mental self-sabotage (negative, hindering thoughts) and establishing easy, good habits.

As only 1 out of 5 people use their (mental) potential and 6+ hours of your day are based on oftentimes unconscious habits, this is a game-changer. By training 3 brain muscles and good habits, you establish your mental fitness (positive intelligence) and supportive behavior. Doing so, you feel happier and better in your body. You live healthier relationships with your team, clients, and family. You improve peak performance due to a clear head, focus, and (self-)empathy, especially when, e.g., feeling stressed, angry, or insecure.

Eva Gruber founded 3 ventures and supported hundreds of challenged people. She is trained by and collaborates with leading researchers and experts, like Professor BJ Fogg PhD (Stanford University) or neuroscientist Shirzad Chamine (Positive Intelligence). She has been featured as a speaker at events like TEDx and podcasts, as an author, and an executive contributor for entrepreneurship magazines like Brainz or SHEconomy. She lives in Vienna/Austria, with her French fiance, her yoga mat, and an adventurer’s mind.



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