You Are Your Habits

Mark Black

 

 

A habit is something that we do almost subconsciously because it is so much a part of who we are. You’re looking for significant behaviors rather than activities.

Behaviorists and others who study success and human behavior will tell you the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t comes down to what they repeatedly do; their habits. If you have habits that are conducive to success you will succeed, if your habits are self-destructive, well. So as you read this, think about what your most pervasive habits are, but before you begin, make sure you remember what a habit really is. A habit is something that we do almost subconsciously because it is so much a part of who we are. You’re looking for significant behaviors rather than activities. For example, while brushing and flossing your teeth is something you do every day, it isn’t the kind of habit you’re looking at here.

Take five to ten minutes right now and list your five most positive habits. Now that you’ve listed what you think are your five most positive and productive habits, it’s time to look at the other side of the coin. Take another few minutes to think about your five most negative or self-destructive habits and write them down. Now, take a look at your two lists. I started this article by saying that you are your habits. So what do your habits say about you? Are you ruled more by the habits in the first list or the second?

Are you a smoker? Do you drink too often? Are you dependable? Are you polite and understanding? These are the kinds of questions you should ask yourself as you go through this article. Some of your habits you’ve no doubt developed intentionally (you don’t go the gym five days a week by accident.) However, by taking inventory of your habits, you may discover some unwanted habits have crept into your life unintentionally. Many of us want to change our lives in some way. Maybe you want better relationships, to be more successful in your career, to feel more fulfilled, or to have more energy.

Whatever your goals are, the secret to achieving them is to realize that in order to make a change in your life you have to change the things you do each day. If you are what you repeatedly do, then to change who you are, you have to change what you repeatedly do. As Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.” Think for a few minutes about what you really want to achieve in your life. What is that big goal or dream that you really want to achieve? Now take a look at your bad habits. Which of these daily actions is hindering you from achieving what you want?

Similarly, look at your good habits. What could you be doing in addition to what you already are, that would bring you closer to your objective? By doing something as simple as eliminating one bad habit and replacing it with a good one, you can change your course dramatically. Let’s look at an example: Pretend for a moment that one of your goals is to lose some unwanted pounds. Let’s say that when you do an evaluation of your habits, you discover that you: seldom eat breakfast, often snack late at night, skip the gym more often than you go, and eat fast food three or four times a week. What does that tell you?

With this simple inventory you can quickly see why you haven’t succeeded thus far, and more importantly, you know what you have to do to change that. Everything you do brings you either closer or farther away from goals. Your challenge this week is to examine your habits and discover which ones are leading you toward your goals and which are preventing you from achieving what you want. Then replace the bad habits with more productive ones.

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