Here I am at my local shopping centre, and guess what? I made a radical decision which is real habits 101. I’m having a Mocka instead of my normal flat white coffee. Millie did a double take as she took my order. Until I thought about it, I didn’t think how much of a habit. Firstly, my almost daily sojourn to the coffee shop is, and secondly, how ridged I am when I order my mug of flat white coffee.
And this got me thinking about our habits (again) and habits 101.
I’ve always been amazed with how powerful our habits are. Also how hard it can be to break ourselves out of addictive poisonous habits. We can change a habit. Researchers say it takes 21 days for a habit to be imprinted into our brain. Then we think we have it and then wake up one morning to find that we’ve reverted. Our mind is a powerful thing and to use that power to change a habit takes vigilance.
4 AM Habit
A few weeks ago I spent a couple of days in the Sunshine Coast in SE Queensland. I went there to stay with a friend and hang out with my coach and some coaching friends. We stayed in a really nice apartment right on the coast, so swimming, eating, reading and generally being lazy were the orders of the day. This meant that I found it very easy to sleep in each day, something I don’t normally do. The sleeping in became so easy, it was as if it was more ‘normal’ habit or order. But clearly it’s not normal daily order for me, I’ve been getting up really early for about three years. So when I got back home I had to be very vigilant and strict with myself to get back into my 4:00 am habit.
Habits Make Habits
I made a startling discovery some months ago after the trip to the Sunshine Coast. I pushed myself back into my 4 am habitual mode and I expanded on it. Habits 101 really started to bite for me. My 4 am habit is not just getting out of bed, it’s a lot more. There’s meditation, exercise, goals, rules—a whole trophy of things I do. Next, I walk, have a coffee and chat with people in my community, then home and breakfast. By this time I’ve been up and about for hours and I’m ready for work.
What happened is, over the years, my original 4 am habit expanded into lots of minor tasks. These tasks I do every day and they in themselves have become habits. The really interesting thing is by adhering to this routine my motivation and creativity has gone through the roof because I’ve put task or habitual times aside each day for creative things.
Comparisons to Habits 101
A few days ago I drove past a friends’s place and picked him up for a lunch appointment. As we drove off, I asked if he had a chance to download a small application that would allow him to open video files on his Apple computer. He swore about it a few times mentioning how it was all too hard. Then complained about how he hated computers and blah blah blah. I just shrugged and let this go, if he wanted to use the application or not it was his deal.
An hour later, on the way home, this same friend told me about how he bought a compressed air push bike puncture kit for his girl friend. She apparently complained that she didn’t know how to use it. Her problem was that she’d unlikely use it because it was all too hard. My friend complained about how hopeless his girlfriend was. Just because she didn’t even try to learn how to use the kit. Interesting parable comparison, don’t you think?
Conclusion to Habits 101
These are all habits we live by and they manifest themselves in many ways. I have some common habits. I drink a mug of flat white coffee, get up at 4:00 am, hold my tooth brush in my left hand, and I suck air through my teeth. My friend has many habits too. He’s unashamedly addicted to alcohol, swears, and doesn’t shave for three days. He also tells double standard stories, like the one above.
This is not about judgement. It’s to illustrate that we all have habits and that, firstly, they manifest themselves in many ways, and secondly, we can change them if we are aware of them. And more importantly, if we really want to spend the time to change them. The choice is ours.
Call to Action
Monitor yourself, watch what you do and say. What do you do that you would like to change? Nothing? Cool. Maybe something big, like losing weight, like quitting smoking or reducing alcohol consumption? You’re going to have to work hard on those because they are difficult. What I’m talking about are the simple one. You see if we monitor and change the simple habits, you keep tabs on what your changing, later the biggies become easy.
Oh, and by the way, a double standard habit like my friend’s computer problem and his girl friend’s gift? They’re tough, they take time and work and you’ll need to consistently check in with yourself about what you’re telling yourself and others.
So there you have it.
Also Wikipedia here.