“All our life, so far it has definite form, is but a mass of habits,” wrote William James in 1892.
Each day we wake up, we follow a series of seemingly unnoticeable habits. Take my habits for instance:
Turn off the alarm clock (or hit snooze several times). Jump in the shower, brush teeth, put on make-up, get dressed, do hair, pack purse.
Head downstairs and make a juice, pull lunch bag out of the fridge, hug and kiss the family goodbye and get into the car.
Drive to work (the same way each day), get to work and check email, attend meeting after meeting
Drive home, change clothes, play with kids, eat dinner, put kids to bed, take off make-up, fall asleep
Wake up and do it all over again.
And when we get to the end of the week, how many of you ask yourself “How could it be Friday already?” We are on auto-pilot, living life as a series of habits.
Consider that drive to work in the morning when you realize you pulled into the parking lot and didn’t remember the actual drive.
Consider watching TV, holding a full bag of potato chips and realizing after 30 minutes that the bag is now…empty.
Consider going to the break room at work and always purchasing a soda, when you know that water is so much healthier.
Consider your routine, any routine. Do you brush your teeth before or after you eat in the morning?
While these series of habits can come across looking like decisions or choices we make, they are indeed habits. And habits, if we want to, are not always easy to change.
Do you have the desire to change a habit? Would you rather drink more water than soda? Would you rather pick up an apple rather than a bag of potato chips? Do you want to exercise more during the week or on weekends? I read a book recently ago called “The Power of Habit, Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg. This book is an amazing account of how we can make the decision to create or change a habit by deconstructing how our habits work. (Here is a short video too, but the book is well worth the read!)
The premise of deconstructing your habit is relatively simple, but the process will take some time. Remember, all good things come to those who wait. So here is the plan: 1.) Identify the routine 2.) Experiment with rewards 3.) Isolate the cue and 4.) Have a plan.
Did it work for me, you bet it did! My goal was to complete the Heritage Hunt ½ Marathon last year, which I am proud to say I did. The routine I needed to change was getting my sleepy self out of bed early enough in the morning to get my run in before work. I also created a spreadsheet with how many miles and on what days I needed to run. My reward was running with my girlfriend 2 times per week at 5:30 in the morning. We got to run and catch up at the same time! My cue was that at 5:00 each morning my alarm clock was going to go off and there were certain “things” that needed to happen before my run; besides, I couldn’t leave my girlfriend out there in the dark to run by herself! My plan: I will wake up two times per week at 5:00 am, so I am ready to start a run and good conversation with my girlfriend.Is this plan perfect, probably not, but it was the plan that worked for me to achieve my goal. Now for the fun part; give it a whirl yourself! Pick the one thing you want to do different to live a more “HAPPY RADIANT LIFE” and create that new habit!