BUILD GOOD HABITS, SUPPRESS BAD ONES
Habits are powerful things. If you have any ambition to improve yourself and your life, then habits are going to be a primary tool for you. You’ve got to focus yourself on creating and maintaining healthy habits while striving to get rid of negative habits that are affecting your life. Once you do they will start to cut their own groove and take on a life of their own and becoming productive for you. Which will let you focus on other things.
WHAT ARE HABITS?
Habits are patterns of behavior that we perform often, to the point that they become routines that can run unconsciously in our brains. Habits develop over time, helping us do things that we encounter often with greater ease.
This complex set of movements…amount to one routine action that we perform unconsciously
The key to habits is that they become unconscious and can run in the background of our minds. They don’t have to continue taking up valuable attention and willpower, which we can then focus on to other things.
HOW DO HABITS DEVELOP AND WORK?
Habits develop over time and with repetition. The more that any behavior gets repeated, the more it will start to become an unconscious habit to you. Think about walking. When was the last time you really had to actually pay attention to how you were walking in order for it to happen? It’s been a while right?
Walking has become so ingrained in us even just as a young child that we can do it without paying any attention at all. In fact sometimes when I pay attention to walking it trips me up!
Have you ever been walking up some stairs not thinking about it and then all of a sudden start to pay attention and become unsure of the next step you are about to take? Once a habit develops well, the best course of action is to just let it do its thing.
But of course, you didn’t start that way. At some point, you had to put in a significant amount of mental energy into just being able to stand on two legs and not fall over, let alone walk around with grace and ease. This is the power of habit, once they are set up well, they make our lives easier.
IMPROVE YOUR HABITS
Habits can also be very damaging too though since they run unconsciously. If you haven’t fully developed a habit or if you have developed a bad habit, you can have junk software running in your mind. Habits that serve to hinder you in life, or habits that just don’t work, malfunctioning habits. Upgrade your mindset by focusing on improving your habits.
The device you are reading this on probably has an anti-virus software, a disk cleaner, optimization software, etc. Why not for your own head?
Make sure to update your software. Keep building the good habits and suppressing the useless and unhelpful ones. Organize, optimize, clean and upgrade your mind often. Mindset and habits are the foundation of success.
A SIMPLE PROGRAM TO CHANGE A HABIT
I used to always put sugar in my coffee. I wouldn’t dream of having it any other way.
Then one day I watched a documentary about sugar called Fed Up. I learned about how too much sugar can be bad for your health (not that I didn’t really know that already, but it drove the point home to me in a way that I hadn’t felt before). I felt that I needed to make a change. I resolved to reduce my sugar intake. I planned to start by first taking the sugar out of my coffee.
I am a fairly heavy coffee drinker, usually consuming 2-3 cups a day, if not more. Somedays I can drink 5-6 cups of coffee. I also don’t respect the “no coffee after 6:00pm” rule either, I’ll drink a cup of coffee at midnight an hour before going to bed. I drink a fair amount of the stuff is what I’m getting at, so I figured that taking the sugar out of my coffee would be a good start and reduce a good amount of my sugar intake.
At first, I was a bit hesitant. I didn’t like the idea of changing my habit because I enjoyed my coffee so much the way it was already.
“What if I don’t like coffee without sugar?” I thought.
I didn’t want to force myself to drink coffee that I wouldn’t enjoy. So I decided to just give it a trial run. I decided to try it for three weeks and really commit to it, even if I didn’t like it. But after those three weeks, if I didn’t want to continue, THEN I could change my mind.
So I did. I drank my 2-3 cups of coffee a day without sugar. Fortunately, I didn’t mind having my coffee without sugar those few weeks.
“It wasn’t bad.” I thought to myself. “But it would be better if it had some sugar in it.”
After the three weeks were up, I had my first cup of proper coffee, sugar an all. To my surprise, I found it to be utterly repulsive! After only three weeks I had totally changed my taste for coffee.
I’ve never gone back. This was 4 years ago.
I highly recommend doing short trial runs when you are trying to work with your habits. It can seem daunting at the best of times when trying to change your habits, especially older ones that have really been ingrained deeply. But a trial run is a much easier challenge. It’s something that you can swallow easily, sink your teeth into, and not feel overwhelmed with, or lose your motivation.
In the start of developing a new habit, it takes a lot of mental effort and willpower to focus on the habit and consciously choose to do it. It can seem almost unnatural. But you quickly adjust, and a short trial period can be all that it takes to set a new habit in motion.
Worst case scenario, you’ve tried something for a little bit and then it doesn’t work out or you don’t want to continue with it. No harm, no foul. You’re right back where you started a few weeks back.
MAKE A PLAN FOR YOUR HABITS
Start writing out a plan for your habits in order to start using the power of habits to your advantage.
Write down two lists:
- Good habits you want to build
- Bad habits that you want to suppress
Set a goal to work on one of the habits from each list every month for the whole month. If you want to take it a bit slower, choose one habit and only work on that one for a month or two. Maybe you are a real go-getter and you want to work on 4, 6 or 8 habits per month. Whatever you decide to do, write down the plan.
- The habit you are working on.
- How long you will work on it.
- What the desired outcome is after the allotted amount of time.
- Track your progress as you go along.
- Review how you did at the end.
If you make a plan and stick to it, you’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish.
Habits are a powerful tool for self-development. They can help make your life easier and more successful or they can get in the way of accomplishing your goals. It’s important to take stock of the habits that you have. Start building good habits and suppressing bad ones. Change your mindset to one where you cultivate your habits towards a greater goal. Make a plan of action for changing your habits and stick to it. Over time you can start to see major progress as good habits start working in concert with each other.
Try new habits for trial periods to see what works and what doesn’t for you. And as always, keep up the learning! Always challenge yourself to go to the next level.