The Power of Habit
By Mikkel Gisle Johnsen
Humans are creatures of habit. Habit is the true ruler of our lives, and it can make us or break us! The concept of rhythm pervades everything from our bodies, the earth and the universe at large. We can either repeat the same cycle of bad habits day after day or we can perpetuate something new. When it comes to making positive changes in our lives, cultivating health, building a successful business or eliminating unwanted behavior, there’s no way around it – we have to address our habits.
Let’s jump right in and talk about why and how to do this, and why this knowledge will enable you to do whatever you want. Read on…
Everyone’s Different Have you ever thought about the fact that all over the world, people live completely different lives depending on where they live? Different cultures and environments cause people to develop very different lifestyles. This means that there’s not just one way to do things for us humans, but many. How you eat, what you eat, when you sleep, how you socialize – it all depends on what you’re used to, your social, physical and cultural conditioning.
Once a certain way of doing something has become normal to you, it takes a surprising amount of effort to change – but it is possible. In fact, it’s been said that it only takes two to four weeks to build a new habit. The challenge though, is to actually do it.
A powerful way to shake things up and get into completely new patterns is actually travel! When you come back home from a nice ultralight backpacking trip, you are have a fresh mind and are ready to create new habits for sure!
The Business of Building Habits Once you recognize that there is a need for change, the next step is to take action on it. Realize that you’ve already gone half the distance by recognizing what needs to be done and deciding to do something about it. The second half is putting it into action.
Whenever someone is trying to change their diet, start an exercise regimen or build a new business, they’re typically very focused on the how, when in reality the first step should only be focused on creating a habit. The habit lays the groundwork for everything else. It’s the framework of the whole thing. Let me explain.
The most important thing when building a business, is that you actually work. If you don’t put energy into it, it’s not going to yield any results either. The same goes for fitness and exercise. If you want the gains, you have to put in the work – on a consistent basis. It doesn’t matter how much you know about the biomechanics of a squat if you don’t do it on a regular basis!
In other words, the first step in something new should always be to establish the habit of doing it. You can work out the “how’s and what if’s” later once you’re consistent about what you’re doing.
Be Specific About the New Habit Rather than deciding to “generally eat more fruit” for example, commit to making breakfast a fruit meal every day. Before you know it, it’s become an effortless habit.
By the way, there’s a lot of good fruity breakfast recipes in (affiliate link) The 80/10/10 Diet by Dr. Doug Graham!
Rather than saying “I’m going to exercise more”, commit to one hour of activity every day first – and then work out the details of what you’ll do and how. In the beginning it could be as simple as a slow walk. Eventually that walk might turn into a run, or an interval session or a trip to the gym. The point is to first get used to setting aside that block of time every day and building that habit.
Rather than just wanting to “make money doing something I love”, get into the habit of spending a certain amount of time every day doing something you love. Eventually you’ll figure out a way to make money from it as well, but if you never actually do it, it will always just be an idea.
Essentially, constructing habits is a really more about time– and energy management than anything else. It’s all about saying “at lunch I eat fruit” or “in the morning I go for a walk” or “from 10 am to 2 pm I work”. Get that framework going first, and the rest takes care of itself.
Sacrifice is Necessary and It’s Going to Be Hard Building healthful and happiness-promoting habits means eliminating unhealthy ones at the same time. Eliminating a habit is no different from creating a new one, it’s just a matter of persisting and insisting for a few weeks until it becomes the new normal.
These few weeks though, they can be really hard. Your bad habit is ingrained in your very being and when you suddenly stop it, it can be very difficult. The same is true for making new ones. When you first start exercising several times a week, your body will resist it. It goes against the rhythm you’ve perpetuated for the last few months, years or even your whole life.
It might suck. It might even suck a lot. But stick with it! This is the important point I want to make with this article. The first few weeks of doing something new, whether that be ending a bad habit or creating a good one, are tough! It’s like starting a new drumming pattern in the middle of another song with another tempo! Stick with it though, and soon enough it takes over. The old pattern dies one and the new one continues. Within a month or so – you’re cruising along effortlessly. Once you’re “over that hump”, the grass is greener on the other side!
Check out our article “Four Attributes of Successful People”