Have you considered how important a role the power of habits play in your life? I have. I'm 72 years old, and I've seen so many people who are aware of their bad habits, but, to their dismay feel powerless to change them. You know what I am talking about.
Then there are the people on the other side of the equation. People who have done it, changed their habits. And as a result, have lost weight, quit smoking, or started an exercise routine. And, in the process, their life got better.
Obviously, there are people on both sides of the debate. Which side are you on?
Habits can make such a huge impact on how your life turns out.
It takes a lot of effort to change or create a habit. However, it is possible and, in most cases, required.
The majority of people, today, want to remain inside their comfort zone. That means their habits continue which is not a good strategy if things aren't well.
Let's look at how your habits might help or hurt your possibilities for success. Consider what Jim Rohn says about success to get a sense of what I am talking about:
That is so true. You attract success by the person you become over time. And habits play a major role in that growth and development. So if there is one thing you want to perfect, it is your ability to change old habits while at the same time creating new ones.
As I've said, one of the main differences between a successful person and an unsuccessful person lies in their habits. After all, they both have 24 hours in the day. So, how is it that one is successful and the other isn't? It's in how they use their time which is largely controlled by their habits. This is why things are changing for them.
What are habits anyway? They are routines that occur on cue. They start automatically in the presence of a trigger. And in most cases, we aren't even aware of it.
Some routines provide good results, while others can produce negative results. That happening illustrates the power of habits in your personal or professional life.
Habits are unavoidable and automatic. They are like programs in a computer. Let's say you push an icon on your phone causing an app to open, start, and run. Every time you press the icon, the same actions occur over and over again.. In humans, the process is called developing habits.
This process works because a programmer created a program designed to function in a predicable manner. To harness the power of habits, you have to be like that programmer. You must take control of programming your subconscious.
As soon as your subconscious is triggered, it begins to play the programmed routine(s). We don't have to learn anew actions over and over again. They become automatic. And, a large part of our day is controlled by these habits.
What shaped your current habits? It all began when you were a child. Your habits were developed first by your parents. Then, others like instructors or coaches helped you to create other habits.
As you got older, you created your own routines (and you still do). And in every situation, as soon as a cue is detected, low and behold, you react. Most of your habits were formed years ago. This is another illustration of the power of habits.
Successful people have developed more positive and productive habits over time, making their lives easier. Other people, on the other hand, have unproductive, and in some cases even destructive routines controlling their lives making everything so much more difficult.
It is important to note that we all have both productive and unproductive habits existing within us. The question is which habits rule your life?
Well, you might be wondering, if they are in our subconscious, how are we suppose to fix the bad routines and develop some positive new routines on purpose? How do we take control of the power of habits running much of our lives?
So how does a person change or create a habit? The first thing you need to know is that there are three parts to the process.
Let's say you are overweight and want to get fit. And to get to where you are, you had developed a bad routine of stopping on your way into work to get doughnuts and coffee. Doughnuts and coffee over time will mean extra weight. And that extra weight is causing your blood pressure to go and your health is becoming threatened.
Usually, with a habit, you don't even know that you're even doing it. It happens automatically. That is part of the power of habits. But when things are going bad enough, you look for things to do so you can get to a better place. That is why you are now very cognizant of the doughnuts. You've been eating them every morning...for years.
To change a habit, some people say to keep the cue, change the routine, and keep the reward. That won't work in this case because the reward is the feeling you get from the doughnuts. So we need a better way.
Now that you know what you want to do, eliminate the doughnuts, a better procedure would be to change your route to work so you don't drive by the shop and therefore aren't tempted to pull in and buy the doughnuts.
So - enter a new cue. The new route. You will now change course before you get to the doughnut shop. The earlier street is the new cue. The new routine is the new route to work. And the reward is a vision of a new you with all the benefits you will accrue over time.
We need to talk more about the reward. In this case you need to practice seeing yourself at a friends house or a party with people congratulating you on your weight loss. You could include a visit to your doctor who is surprised by your new trim self. You can see yourself with normal blood pressure.
And, if you're smart you will think about the extra years you have with normal blood pressure which means more vacations, more time with your friends and family, etc. You want to feel as much pleasure for your new habit as possible.
I'm not saying creating the new habit will be easy. It's not, but here's the key, and it is important: It is worth it. Yes, you will be going outside your comforts zone which means you will feel uncomfortable. But, the more often you take the new route, the easier it will get. As you do it, new pathways will be imprinted on the brain. And the more often you do it, the more ingrained the pathways will be and the easier it will become. It is amazing how it works. But, the important point here is, it works. That is the power of creating a new habit.
It is also important to allow yourself to make mistakes where you find yourself going back to the old habit. That will happen. We are human. The old habit doesn't want to let go. Which, of course, illustrates the power of habits in controlling our lives.
And, I think it is important that you NOT beat yourself up when you make that mistake. Be a friend to yourself. So instead, just focus more and more on the new habit. As you continue this process, you will find yourself getting better and more proficient doing the new habit. The old habit will start to fade. Then, with the new habit predominate, you will feel less discomfort. What a relief it is when that moment occurs.
If you want the habit to establish itself faster, here's a key: Use the tool Visualization. You will find it in the Motivational Toolbox. And it is a tool you can use even when you are at home relaxing. All you do is imagine yourself taking action, using the new habit, getting the reward, and felling good about yourself. The mind can't tell a difference between an actual experience and a very detailed visualization.
You might want to read my article on Visualization. The process is so powerful. It will help you to progress far faster into becoming the kind of person you want to be, the kind of person you can be proud of. It is important to remember that the more detailed the vision, the more likely success will be. Vivid details matter.
You want to do everything you can to put the power of habits to work for you and not against you. To that end, while you are creating the habit, celebrate each success. Why? Because the more pleasure you get from the process, the more likely the habit will take hold. Powerful habits produce powerful results.
So much of everyone's life is guided by the habits they have created themselves or the habits they have allowed others to create for them. Habits consume so much time in a person's life. And, because they are in our comfort zone, they are very difficult to recognize and or change.
In essence, if you want to take control of your life, you have to make the power of habits work for you and not against you. That process is an invaluable. And while it won't be easy, it will be worthwhile. Coming up with habits that make you into the kind of person that attracts success will pay huge dividends for you.
It is important to keep in mind, also, that not controlling the power of habits, has the opposite effect. Your life will become out of control, and over time will spiral down to a place you don't want to go to. Not a pleasant place to find yourself.
You owe it to yourself to make the changes your life requires. And, if you get good at it, you will inspire others to do the same. So, set up cues (triggers), come up with ingenious routines, reward yourself for you successes, and celebrate your wins. Your self-esteem will grow and your life will have a much better complexion and feel to it. And the confidence you have in yourself will rise to a level that life will be more enjoyable. Once again, that shows the power of habits.
What if there was a magic wand that made the power of habits still more powerful? By a magnitude. There is.
To make the point, here is a simple question. This is a question you should ask yourself whenever you are going to add a new habit. That question is, "Why do you want this new habit." The first word says it all -- why. And usually, the answer is pretty obvious. But that answer, alone, won't get you the magic wand. To explain how that happens, I will use an example.
Let's consider, Frank. Frank is a good man, a man who works hard, and loves his family. The problem is, through no cause of Frank, the company he worked for went out of business a few years ago. The economy was in a downturn and Frank was out of work for about seven months. And, as you can imagine, Frank ended up in quite a bit of new debt. To live, he had to use his credit cards much more than he had ever wanted to.
So, Frank found a job and is now making ends meet, but he still has that nagging debt. After talking it over with his wife, they decided together, that Frank would turn his skills into a part-time business. Frank was a designer for a magazine company. And he was good at what he did. He had seen people create websites and courses where people could learn about the science and art of design. He thought he could help make that happen. Extra income could be used to pay off the debt.
To accomplish his goal, he would have to work many hours after the time he spent working for his employer. At first, he was motivated. He saw a way out of his crisis and he was going to take it. New habits had to be formed. He spent many hours working to create his business. And, in the long run, it worked out. Frank paid off his debt.
How did Frank keep going when it seemed, at times, he didn't have the energy and will power to do it? There were times where the habits he had created to work those extra hours were falling apart. But, Frank had the magic wand. He knew his "Why." And it wasn't just the money. You'd think so, wouldn't you? Nope, that is not the case.
Whenever Frank found himself moving in the wrong direction, a direction where his habits were falling away, he would think of the extra money used to pay off the debt. But it didn't stop there. He had asked himself the "Why" question a second time. "Why do I want to pay off the debt?" The answer - he knew if he didn't, the stress of the debt over time would likely shorten his life. And it didn't stop there. If that happened, he thought, he wouldn't have the wonderful experiences he could have with his family. And they would suffer.
So when Frank saw a habit wasn't working, he would think of the consequences. He wouldn't make the extra money which meant he wouldn't pay off his debt, which meant the stress of that debt over a long time would harm his health, which meant he wouldn't lead the kind of life he wanted to live with his family, and they would suffer.
So the moral of the story is when you are setting up a new habit, ask yourself why you are doing it. And...don't stop there. When you get that first answer, ask yourself why you want that first answer. And so on, until you get to the real, truly motivating reason you are going to work so hard. For Frank, it came down to his family. For all of us, it will usually come down to the life we see for ourselves in the future. That is the power of "Why." That is a technique you can use to build your power of habits.
There is no limit to how many habits you create. You just need to make the decision to do it. Find your real, bottom line, why and go for it.
Go to the top of this page on The Power Of Habits.
Go to the Article Index.
Go to Get Inspired! Stay Motivated.