This blog post I want to focus on habit formation. We all have habits in one way or another. Habits can be very bad or they can be the best thing that ever happened to you. The good news is that once you realize that most of your day consists of habits, it’s the first step in harnessing the power of habit formation.
I didn’t figure out how to properly develop habits until I read Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit. In the book Duhigg outlines the steps to habit formation. I’d really like you to read the book, so I’m not going to discuss much more than the three step process that Duhigg outlines and a few examples of how habit formation helps create success for the reader.
Duhigg states that habit formation is essentially a three step process that consists of a trigger, action, and reward. For example, when you wake up in the morning that may be a trigger to brush your teeth (trigger and action) and the reward is your teeth feel minty fresh after that. Duhigg actually uses tooth paste’s tingly feeling as an example of the reward that caused more Americans to brush their teeth.
The reason that habit formation is so important is that not only does it help you accomplish what you want to accomplish in life, but it also does this without forcing you to think. Think about how exhausting your first day at work or school is, and think about why it’s so exhausting. It’s exhausting because you’re having to think deeply about every action you are taking. After habits are formed, you’re brain can easily make decisions without you consciously even knowing it. Ever wondered how you get to work some days when you don’t remember even one turn you took? It’s a bit frightening that our brains get so good at repetition we don’t even know it’s happening but it is also a useful tool because it allows our brains to focus on the big decisions that require our mental capacity.
If that isn’t enough to motivate you to develop good habits, think about all the negatives habits that you may have. They may not all come to you as you read this but as you go through your day, pause and ask yourself if you made a conscious decision to do what you’re doing or if you did so habitually. If you wouldn’t have chose to do the activity consciously, chances are you did it out of habit…a bad habit. Things like turning on Netflix after the kids go to bed or grabbing an afternoon soda at work could both be negative habits that you can reform into good ones.
Here’s how I consciously changed my habits.
- I went through entire days and noted any habits that I no longer wanted.
- I decided on what habits I wanted to replace those habits with.
- I considered Duhigg’s habit formation cycle, as well as Habit Stacking to make the most efficient routine I could imagine.
- I wrote all of that with a daily routine that I print out every single day. I like having it in a Word document so I can easily access it, but I also like having a physical sheet of paper to remind me to stay on the routine.
- I analyze the routine everyday. What things caused me to go off track? What things can I reorganize to do better? What things can I cut out from my routine to save me time? Once I have done that I simply modify my Word document and try to start forming the new routine
I know some of you are thinking this is needlessly rigid, but you can schedule times for flexibility, however if you’re whole schedule if flexible, chances are you will not get what YOU wanted to get done completed.
Another way to make sure that you get done what you want to is to use waking up as a trigger to complete an important habit stack. For example, I put my workout clothes in the bathroom, so immediately upon waking up I go change into my work out clothes, walk down the steps, eat my breakfast and workout supplements, and wait 45 minutes to work out. In those 45 minutes, I post on this blog, do homework, or work on work prior to work (I know that’s a lot of work, lol). Either way, this has been an amazing habit stack for me because it allows me to feel so accomplished before anyone else is awake. Also, the beginning of your days, often the first 2-3 hours are often your most creative because your brain hasn’t tried to solve the world’s problems for hours and hours before that, so utilizing your first few hours for creative tasks can be very critical to your success.
In conclusion, the most important part of habit formation is understanding that you do have habits and you can and should focus on making them the greatest habits that you can have. They will turn from habits that weigh you down to habits that guarantee your success.
Schedule your habits and be great today! Thanks for reading,