“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
– Will Durant
Is today just like yesterday?
For most of us our days are very, very similar. What has happened is that we often have the same thoughts every day and numerous times per day. These thoughts, create certain patterns in our brains which dig deeper and deeper. Our thoughts impact our actions and we act based on our thoughts. So if we have similar thoughts every day and we act based on those, our days will be very, very similar.
We start to create a pattern of how we do things and the more frequent we have done those things, the less we have to think about it. They have become so ingrained in our brain and our subconscious mind that our body knows what to do without any instructions from us. This is when things are happening on autopilot or routine. I bet your have driven to work and upon arriving, you sometimes wonder how you actually got there as the last thing you can remember is being in the hallway at home. You have done it so many times, it just seems to happen.
The same thing probably goes for your routine of getting up in the morning and before going to work. Our bodies are run by homeostasis, meaning they want to do as little as possible but still achieve the same result. Doing the same thing we have always done requires less effort and brainpower, hence habits are easily created.
Think about your last couple of weeks and tell me if they have not been very similar, especially when you are in your familiar locations (not traveling). So think about a normal week at home and at work. I bet the majority of the things you do are the same things you have done before and you tend to do them in the same way.
If we always do what we have always done, we will always get what we have always gotten!
For things to change in your life, you have to change and actively choosing what habits to create is a great way of making this happen the way you want!
The three parts in every habit
There are a few key elements of a habit and this is how it works according to Charles Duhigg:
- Cue: Something happens which triggers you to do something. It can be a commercial, an emotion or a thought and it basically tells your brain to go into automatic mode and take the steps always taken when your are triggered in this particular way.
- Reaction: This is the response to the trigger and can be anything like: biting your nails, getting a drink or something sweet or checking your mobile. These actions can be emotional, physical or mental.
- Reward: This is the feeling your get upon reacting and hence it can be any feeling; angry, satisfied, happy, proud etc. Depending on how strong the emotion is, the deeper this habit will ingrain into your subconscious mind.
If we think about our own habits, I am sure we can find these cues, reactions and what the desired reward is. Sometimes they will be more obvious than other times. However completely stop doing a habit can be hard unless we have the right reason (we risk dying if we continue but even that is sometimes not strong enough). The easiest thing to do is to start replacing your bad habits with an amazing one, more on that in this post how to break a bad habit and create an amazing one.
Awareness is key
The absolute most important thing is to start paying attention to all the habits we have and how they impact our lives and the way we live. If we always tell ourselves that we never have any money and that we are so unlucky all the time, guess what, we will most likely never have any money nor any luck!
Even if we managed to get money, we would not know how to take care of them and they would most likely be gone before we even knew it and we would tell ourselves the same thing again “we never have any money” and when we do, they just disappear. If this is how we have trained our brain to think, we will act in accordance and our actions will keep on strengthening this belief just because we made it happen!
Again, nothing will change until we start taking back control and this means changing the way we think and act.
Steps to take:
- Write down everything you do on a daily basis which is habitual (same procedure every day).
- Both the good ones and the bad ones!
- Ask a close family member to be brutally honest and complement the list.
- Think about the ones you really should eliminate as they are stopping you from living the life you truly want.
Create powerful habits!
Once you are done with the above steps, apply the 80/20 rule to your habits, both the good ones and the bad ones. This means if you decide to get rid of 20% of your bad habits, you will take out 80% of the bad outcome! Identify those you really don’t like and make sure you start doing something about them.
Personally I would recommend you to start taking control over your day by implementing outstanding morning routines as they will set you up for the day. Instead of waking up stressed and irritated and finding yourself in a reactive mode, choose how you want your day to start, every day! I love this part as I still make habits out of my mornings, the only difference is that I have decided what habits I want to create to make sure that they serve me in the best possible way! You can check out my morning routines in this post for inspiration: How to accomplish twice as much per day by having outstanding morning routines!
The second routine I would love for you to create is one of exercise/movement even if it just means a couple of minutes every day during your morning routine. It doesn’t have to be a sweaty pulse triggering exercise, some peaceful yoga and meditation is also a great and healthy way of waking up your body. Movement in any form is so beneficial in many ways and by creating a simple habit of including this into your morning routine, you make sure it happens every day!
All successful people have created great habits and they are always working on eliminating the bad ones. They know that they are what they repeatedly do and that their results will be reflected by that. On top of that, we have a limited amount of decision capacity every day so if we use too much of it on the wrong tasks, we are just wasting brain capacity.
Spend a few minutes and think about some of the habits you would like to create and that you know will enhance the quality of your life. Maybe it is creating an evening routine so that everything goes smoothly the following morning. Maybe always do the dishes before going to bed and prepare the breakfast and clothes for the kids. Why not listen to your role model on your phone whilst doing this. I am guessing you have done it so many times, you don’t really have to use any brainpower so why not learn something from a source of inspiration at the same time?
I’m not saying you shouldn’t have any habits, I just want you to think about what habits will be most beneficial to you and your family and implement those. The more habits you create, the less energy and stress you will have to spend on these activities. Remember that you are a role model to your family. As you probably know, kids tend to copy their parents so if you are not in control and feel stressed or anxious all the time, there is a great likelihood that your kids will feel the same.
So start by sitting down with your partner and discuss what habits you should focus on creating, both individually and as partners. Then include your kids too. By explaining that if they want to achieve a certain result in their lives or with their friends, in school or in sports, adjusting their habits will make a massive difference. If they want to become better at a certain sport, include that as part of their daily schedule and make sure to measure their progress so that they can see and feel it. When it gets real, we will gain so much more momentum.
Your life on your terms is down to the habits you choose to create.
Actions to take:
- Know what you want – Vision & Goals
- Habits of highly successful people – just copy them!
- How to break a bad habit and create an amazing one!
- Taking Action and Making it all Happen!
- How to always have enough money
- How to change your money mindset!