The Power of Habits
What are habits? Are they good or bad? How do you make or break habits? Read on to find out!
How can you successfully reach your goals? How can you create monumental change in your life? The key is found in the Power of Habits.
A famous quote says, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Sounds good, but what does that really mean?
Let me unpack how the Power of Habits works in a real-life experience I recently had.
My office is in a co-working space in Lancaster, PA called The Candy Factory. It’s a great place to work because I am surrounded by small business owners who all share a passion for community and collaboration.
During the month of February, we had a community “hydration challenge.” The goal of this friendly competition was to get people to drink more water at work, which is good for their health.
The rules were simple. You would place a hash mark on a large whiteboard for every 8 ounces of water you drank while on campus. At the end of the month, the results would be tallied, and a winner would be crowned.
Who was the winner? Me!
And I didn’t just win; I absolutely crushed (or maybe I should say drowned) the competition. My monthly grand total was double that of the next closest member!
How did I do it? Through the Power of Habits.
Having a winning habit
So let me break down how this worked.
The first thing to understand about habits is that they are the things that you do without having to consciously think about them. They are your default actions.
I have a habit of either eating or drinking when I work on my computer. And in the past, I’ve had the habit of drinking too much coffee and not enough water. So in January, I made the decision to buy a half-gallon water bottle to keep at my desk.
My plan was that every morning when I came into The Candy Factory, my first action would be to take my empty jug to the kitchen, fill it with water, and grab a cup of coffee. Then I would be off to work on things like this blog post. I made a commitment to myself that I would not take lunch or have another cup of coffee until I finished the whole jug of water.
Once I got back from lunch, I would fill the bottle up again and commit to not leaving for the day until it was empty.
This means that I would drink 1 gallon of water at a minimum every day
So this habit was already in place before the competition started. I didn’t need to try to drink more water; I already was.
But why was this strategy successful? Because I leveraged three key components of the Power of Habits.
“When you can link a new habit to a habit or routine you already have, it becomes a lot easier to make the new habit stick.“
Three keys to unlock the Power of Habits
#1 Make Your New Habit Easy
The first step to leveraging the Power of Habits is to make the habit easy. Why did I buy that big-ass water bottle? Because it made it easier for me to not only drink more water but also to be able to measure my results.
If I were only drinking out of a small glass, I would need to get up from my desk and walk to the kitchen several times a day (not that there isn’t benefit in that), which would disturb my workflow and make it harder to keep track of how much I actually drank.
#2 Make Your Old Habit Harder
When it comes to replacing an unwanted habit with a new habit, you need to make the old habit harder. So in my case, because I wasn’t constantly walking past the coffee pot on my way to get my water, I wasn’t tempted to grab a second (or third, or fourth) cup of coffee. I made drinking water way easier than drinking coffee.
#3 Stack Your Habits
When you can link a new habit to a habit or routine you already have, it becomes a lot easier to make the new habit stick. In my situation, I stacked finishing my water with finishing my work. As I looked at the clock to see if it was time to either go to lunch or head home, I would also check my water consumption. I then chose to look at the water bottle as an hourglass. The question of “how long before I can head home for the day?” became “how much more water do I need to drink before I can head home for the day?”
What are habits?
Are habits good or bad?
The answer is yes.
Now, I know that may sound like I’m being a smartass, but bear with me.
Merriam-Webster defines a habit as “an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.” Psychologists tell us that habits are important because they save us time and mental resources. When something is a habit, you don’t need to think about what to do; you just do it. I personally like the definition that Dr. Joe Dispenza has about habits. Dr. Joe says a habit is when your body knows how to do something better than your mind.
The reality is that there are no definitively good or bad habits, much like there are no good or bad emotions.
Habits are habits.
But that doesn’t mean all habits or all emotional responses are useful or appropriate.
Brain Tracy was quoted as saying, “Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” Whether you want to lose weight, build a successful business, have deeper relationships, or just feel happier, your habits will directly affect the results you get. When you have the right habits in place, you will automatically make the types of decisions or take the types of actions that are in alignment with your objectives.
So if you are not getting the type of results that you want in your business or your life, I suggest you look at your habits. Are your habits making it easier to do the things you need to do? Or are they derailing you from the change and growth that you want?
And if you would like to learn more about how to make your habits work for you, register for my free Power of Habits webinar.
The Power of Habits
Monday, March 27
2 PM EST
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