Habits are the things that you do every single day.
They are the themes you experience in your relationships, the thoughts you repeat to yourself, the unseen actions you take and the beliefs you repeat. Habits are those things that you repeat, day in and day out. They are the compound interest of self-improvement. According to researchers Neal, Wood and Quinn at Duke University, habits account for about 40% of our behaviours on any given day. Your life today is essentially the sum of your habits!
If Habits and Goals had to get in a boxing match, Habits would knock out Goals in the first round. It’s not because Habits are better than Goals; Goals are great for pre-match hype and getting the crowd going. The problem is that Goals don’t actually do anything, they don’t make you bob and weave.
Habits, on the other hand, are all action. There's nothing fancy about them they get the job done. They’re what get you in the gym, make you eat the right food, encourage you to reflect after training, help you to believe that you can become a champion. They are everything you need, every single day, to become a champion.
Habits are the automation of our machine minds, the longer you repeat a habit for the stronger it becomes. Habits are so effective because they make acting out behaviours that lead to the achievement of your aspirations and outcomes effortless. By learning how to programme in the right habits you can learn to make that which was once effortful, effortless. Habits, like a mechanical process, follow predictable patterns - they have loops.
CUE: Through being aware of cues in your life that prompt you to act a certain way, you can manipulate them as you please. An example of a cue in action could be getting out of bed every morning. Every time you get out of bed in the morning, you are cued to follow up with a specific response.
RESPONSE: By seeing how you automatically respond to these cues, you can decide the actions you wish to take. An example of a response to the cue of getting out of bed every morning could be to fetch and drink a glass of water. Every time you get out of bed, you automatically walk to the kitchen and get a glass of water to drink. You could respond by journaling, going to the gym or meditating, it’s up to you and your goals and aspirations.
REWARD: Encoding these responses into your brain, creating a desire for them to occur again, is then as simple as joyously celebrating and rewarding yourself for living in accordance with your aspirations. An example of a reward attached to drinking a glass of water could be to thank yourself for starting your day off being so healthy. Tasting the clean, life-giving water makes your brain on the lookout for the cue attached to the reward.
The full loop of getting out of bed (Cue), drinking a glass of water (Response) and thanking yourself for starting your day the right way (Reward) is then strengthened every time the habit loop is successfully completed.
So, if you are thinking about your goals for the new year, whatever these might be...consider thinking about how you might turn your goal into a tiny habit. Something small that you can do every day that will compound over time and become automatic and automatically lead you to achieve your long term vision. In the next article, I will share a bit on why defining your personal vision is in fact the first step.