You arrive to work late, do bare minimum at your job and fail to participate in meetings. (They're useless anyway right?)
you grab fast food for lunch nearby, go home at the end of the day, nuke a pizza pocket and play video games for the rest of the night.
Then go on to repeat the above for the rest of the week, rest of the month, and perhaps rest of the year with little to no deviation.
What's wrong with this picture?
Well apart from the terrible eating habits and lack of work ethic, tons.
[And for the purpose of this illustration let's assume they not suffering from any disorder. ;) ]
What we have is someone who has succumbed to their habits.
Given the endless amount of decisions we have to make each day, it is no wonder why so many people develop horrible habits. The exhaustion our mind experiences the more we have to think something through, the less we want to do it, and the more we resort to the easiest course of action.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle
We either make our habits or they make us.
We can create some serious life changes through our habits, and we can equally help them destroy our lives.
Take inventory of your current habits; what you eat, what you do, what you say, and determine if they are helping you achieve the lifestyle you want or keeping you beyond its reach.
What do you spend most of your time doing when you're not sleeping? When you're at work are you doing more beyond just showing up? In your free time, what takes up the bulk of your time? Family, entertainment, study?
Are you frequently wondering where your day went? Or feeling that you accomplished nothing all day?
If it's not very clear to you what your habits are, and feel your time is escaping you - write your activities in a time journal to get a better grasp of where your time is going, and how frequently you perform the same activities. For many this is an eye opener, as identifying your unconscious habits, can help you identify which ones you have to work on more, and which you are wasting your time on entirely.
When reviewing your habits, it may help to ask yourself why you do them, what benefit you receive from them, and whether they even help to reinforce what you claim is important to you at all!
It is said that that it take 21 days to create a habit and 3 days to break it.
As someone who has experienced this first hand I can attest to the validity of this statement, i'm sure we all can. I mean, how many times have you broken your diet, your exercise routine, or study habits in your lifetime? And how many of the habits you introduced have stuck at all?
How do we get habits to stick? How do we go about changing a habit at all?
In Charles Duhigg's book, the Power of Habit, he explains that there is a basic framework which researchers have found for diagnosing and shaping habits within our own lives.
T H E F R A M E W O R K :
• Identify the routine - This is where the time journal becomes useful. What habit routines are you engaged in that you want to change or modify?
• Experiment with rewards - Instead of rewarding yourself with some ice cream after a jog prepare yourself a quick veggie snack.
• Isolate the cue - What triggers the habit? A bad day at work? Abnormal amounts of traffic? Seeing an advertisement billboard? A certain time of day? Being with certain people?
• Have a plan - Once you've identified the habit routine, the cue that triggers it and the reward that you seek, you'll be able to change your habit routine into a better one expecting the cue, and consciously change the outcome or the reward.
Following this framework will allow you to break habits
Often times what prevents us from completing a positive routine are passive barriers.
As Ramit Sethi describes in a guest article for Get Rich Slowly passive barriers are,
"subtle factors that prevent you from changing your behavior. Unlike “active” barriers, passive barriers describe the lack of something, making them more challenging to identify. But once you do, you can immediately take action to change your behavior."
- Your textbook left behind in your car... 10 Metres away.
- Walking for 5 minutes to the mailbox to drop off your $50 mail-in rebate
- Not sending in your electronic drug claim, because the form or process takes too long
However passive barriers can work in your favour once you have identified them. Some simple passive barriers that work for dieters for example are:
- Keeping the Ice cream wrapped in a plastic bag in the freezer
- Placing cookies on a top shelf out of reach
- Going on a walk with coworkers to and from a coffee shop, without your wallet
- Placing your gym bag next your bed or your bedroom door so you trip on it as you wake up or leave the room
- preparing lunch for yourself the day before work
Identifying what your passive barriers are is a very liberating process. Once you discover and acknowledge which ones are holding you back you can swap them out for ones that will benefit you. Positive passive barriers coupled with the aforementioned Habit-changing framework, will help you establish lasting change in your life if you give it a chance.
Focus on the habits or activities that matter to you most.
What do you want your habits to say about you?