I was going to start off this article by captivating your attention with the amazing power of creating habits. Then I remembered that the biggest source of motivation to create habits was to just start doing them. Starting small, building, and keeping the momentum rolling will give you more motivation than anything I could say here. The process feeds the fire.
Today’s post is the first in a series on forming powerful habits using the easiest way I know. I want to help you build a foundation to effectively create new habits on your own. You do not need a 300 page book before you effectively establish a life-changing habit. It comes from within you.
Let’s Get Started
Humans are creatures of habit. That sounds cliché but it is 100% the truth. We look for patterns in order to understand the world around us, and we also act through patterns. These behavioural patterns are called habits. We usually develop habits without any conscious awareness of them, which results in both positive and negative habits. These habits are created when we consistently react to the same situations with the same responses. Overtime, these consistent responses program us to respond the same way in the future.
Why are we programmed to create habits? They are a huge advantage to us because they free our mental capacity to focus on higher-order problems. If we had to think about proper grammar every time we tried to communicate something, then it would take hours to read or write anything. If you have ever learned a second language, you can appreciate how much easier it is to express ideas in your native language. Speaking your native language is a subconscious habit. It just happens.
We sometimes learn habits that feel right in the moment, but have negative long term effects. This is seen with people who drink alcohol to relieve stress, or gamble because of the thrill. Eventually, these also become habits and are hard to break.
Habits are difficult to break because following them makes us feel good, and not following them makes us feel bad. There is resistance when we try to go against our habits. It just doesn’t feel right. However, humans have an amazing ability; we can consciously decide to overcome this resistance and establish a routine that brings us closer to our goals on auto-pilot.
Successful people consciously decide to build positive habits, taking over initial control until their new actions happen unconsciously. When someone starts going to the gym, it isn’t easy, but after going for a month straight, it becomes easier to go to the gym than it is to stay at home. Any new adventure is a challenge at first, but eventually our innate human abilities take over and we just do it.
Are you ready to create habits and free up your mind for more important things? Do you want to stop procrastinating? Do you want to start working out consistently 5 times per week? Whatever habit you want to initiate, it’s time to identify it – and I am going to do this with you.
I want you to create a habit list. Separate your habit list into three columns. In the first column, write any negative habits you want to get rid of. In the second column, write out the positive habits you’ve already established that fuel your success. The third column is the fun part. Here, I want you to brainstorm a minimum of five habits that you are going to change with the help of this article series.
Reflect on column 3 and start to feel what your life would be like if these were already your habits. Don’t think about whether or not you’ll be successful (because you will be). I just want you to imagine your life with these habits firmly established. What would it feel like?
Here is my list of 5:
- Spend 1 hour each morning, Monday to Friday, improving my writing
- Only socialize on facebook for 5 minutes per day, after I’ve already completed my night-time routine
- Run a 600m race every day around my block. (I want to compete in in-door track and field next year)
- Quit television, except for playoff sports of my favourite teams. (I’m still leaving room for the most important television I watch)
- Spend two hours each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, writing a new blog post for impossiblewin.com.
I have heard from many people that the easiest way to create habits is to do it every single day. I agree, however it doesn’t make or break a habit if you choose specific days to do it. Sometimes, scheduling constraints will only allow you to start a new habit once per week – and that’s perfectly fine.
In the next article on habits, we are going prepare ourselves to succeed by making one of your habits easy to stick with long term. This part will reduce any friction while you’re implementing the new habit and streamline your success when you’re ready to implement it. I’m ready to create a new habit, are you?