People who become set in their ways as they get older usually display these 9 behaviors (without realizing it)

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People often say that with age comes wisdom, but sometimes, it’s more like rigidity. The older we get, the more we can unknowingly become set in our ways.

It’s a sneaky process, hardly noticeable. You find yourself gravitating towards familiar patterns and routines, and before you know it, you’re stuck in a loop of your own making.

These behaviors often manifest subtly, without us even realizing it. And trust me, spotting them is the first step in breaking free from this loop.

Let’s dive in and explore the nine behaviors typically displayed by people who become set in their ways as they get older. You might be surprised at what you find.

1) Resistance to change

It’s a universal truth – change can be intimidating. As we age, this intimidation often amplifies.

The comfort of familiar patterns and routine becomes a safe haven. From sticking to the same brand of toothpaste for decades to resisting the latest technology, the examples are endless.

This resistance to change isn’t always bad. It provides a sense of control, a feeling of stability in an ever-changing world.

However, it can also limit experiences and hinder personal growth. And most importantly, it often happens without us even realizing it.

If you notice yourself or someone else showing signs of resisting change – whether it’s in adopting new technology or trying a new cuisine – it might be an indication of becoming set in one’s ways. 

2) Sticking to the same social circle

We all have our comfort zones, especially when it comes to socializing. For me, I’ve noticed this in my own life.

A few years back, I found myself meeting up with the same group of friends every other weekend. It was comfortable, familiar, and easy. There was no stress about making a good impression or the fear of being misunderstood. But then I realized, my social circle hadn’t expanded in years.

This happens to many of us as we get older. We stick to the same group of friends or colleagues, rarely venturing out to meet new people or make new connections.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is limiting. New people bring new perspectives, ideas, and experiences into our lives. Staying within the same social circle can limit this influx of fresh perspectives and inadvertently cause us to become set in our ways.

If you’re like me and you’ve been hanging out with the same group for years, maybe it’s time to reach out and meet someone new. You never know what you might learn or discover.

3) Declining curiosity

Remember the incessant ‘why’ questions we pestered our parents with as kids? It turns out, our innate curiosity often dwindles as we age.

Research suggests that as we grow older, our curiosity tends to diminish. This means we’re less likely to seek out new experiences or learn new skills. Instead, we tend to rely on the wealth of knowledge and experiences we’ve already amassed.

This behavior can make us set in our ways, as we become less open to new information that may challenge our existing beliefs or understanding.

If you find yourself less interested in discovering new things or questioning the world around you, it’s worth taking a step back and reigniting that childhood curiosity. After all, learning is a lifelong journey.

4) Decreasing adaptability

Adaptability is a trait often admired in youth, but it’s not exclusive to the young ones. As we age, our ability to adapt to new situations or changes may decrease – but it does not have to.

We often find comfort in predictability as we get older. Daily routines, familiar places, known faces – these all provide a sense of security. The downside? It may limit our willingness to adapt when situations change.

This decreased adaptability can make us set in our ways and resistant to change. Whether it’s a shift in workplace policies or a sudden change in personal circumstances, rigidity can make the transition more challenging.

The good news is that adaptability, like any skill, can be nurtured. So if you find yourself resisting change, take a deep breath, and remember: change is the only constant.

5) Preferring past over present

Ever caught yourself saying, “Back in my day…” a bit too often? It’s not uncommon for us to romanticize the past as we get older.

We tend to look back at previous decades with nostalgia, appreciating the simplicity, the values, or even the music and fashion of those times. While nostalgia can be a source of comfort and happiness, it can also make us critical of the present.

This focus on the past can make us less appreciative of current trends, technologies, or societal changes – essentially making us set in our ways.

If you find yourself frequently reminiscing about the good old days and comparing them unfavorably with the present, it may be time to take a step back and find value in what today has to offer.

6) Avoiding risks

Risk-taking is a part of life. From small decisions like trying a new cuisine, to bigger ones like changing careers – life is all about taking chances.

But as we age, our appetite for risk often dwindles. We’ve probably been burnt a few times, learnt some tough lessons and now, the fear of potential negative outcomes can overshadow the excitement of new possibilities.

This avoidance of risk can make us more set in our ways. We might stick to what we know, avoid new experiences, or shy away from opportunities that come with an element of uncertainty.

Remember, though, risk-taking is often where growth happens. So if you find yourself always playing it safe, maybe it’s time for a little courage.

Embrace the uncertainty, take that leap of faith – who knows where it might lead you?

7) Holding onto old grudges

Once, a close friend and I got into a disagreement. It was trivial, something about who was supposed to do what in a group project. But things escalated and we stopped speaking to each other. Years passed, we graduated, moved cities, but that grudge remained.

Holding onto past grudges is something many of us do as we age. We remember the wrongs done to us, the hurtful words, the broken promises. And often, we hold on to these negative feelings, letting them fester and affect our present relationships.

This behavior not only hinders us from moving forward but also makes us set in our ways. We become less open to reconciliation or seeing things from a different perspective.

If you’ve been holding onto a grudge for years, maybe it’s time to let go. Not for them, but for you. For your peace and growth.

After all, forgiveness is more about healing ourselves than it is about the other person.

8) Developing a routine

A routine can be comforting. It gives us a sense of control, stability, and predictability in our lives. We know exactly what to expect and when to expect it.

As we age, this love for routine often grows stronger. We find solace in the familiar – the same morning coffee, the nightly news, the Sunday drives.

While routines are not inherently bad, an over-reliance on them can make us set in our ways. It can make us resistant to spontaneous plans, new experiences, or even slight disruptions in our schedule.

If you find yourself overly dependent on your routine, it might be time to shake things up a bit. Try something new, break the monotony – it could lead to exciting discoveries and growth.

9) Avoiding self-reflection

Self-reflection is the key to growth. It allows us to understand our actions, our choices, and our behaviors. It helps us identify areas of improvement and appreciate our strengths.

However, as we grow older, we might overlook the importance of self-reflection. We may think we’ve learnt all there is to learn, experienced all there is to experience. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Avoiding self-reflection can make us set in our ways. We continue with our patterns, oblivious to their impact on our lives and those around us.

If you’ve been avoiding that mirror of self-reflection, it’s time to take a good look. Understand yourself, question your habits, and most importantly – grow from it.

Final thoughts: A matter of perspective

The nuances of human behavior are complex and often intertwined with our experiences, beliefs, and ultimately, our perception of the world.

As we age, these perceptions can become more rigid, leading us to be set in our ways. But it’s essential to remember that age doesn’t have to equate to inflexibility.

What might seem like being stuck in a loop could simply be a manifestation of comfort and stability. However, it’s when this comfort leads to stagnation that we must reconsider our patterns and behaviors.

Life is a constant journey of learning and growth. And irrespective of our age, there’s always room for new experiences, perspectives, and understanding.

So if you find yourself displaying any of these behaviors, take a pause. Reflect on why you do what you do. Challenge your habits, question your beliefs, and most importantly – embrace the beauty of change and growth.

Because at the end of the day, life is not just about growing older; it’s about growing wiser. And wisdom comes from embracing change, learning from experiences, and constantly evolving.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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