In 2014, Charles Duhigg published an amazing, research-based book about The Power of Habit. The essence of its message was that whether we do it intentionally or unintentionally, we are always creating habits. Our choices have power.
This revelation is full of potential. Sitting back and assessing how many of our choices are conscious and how many are unconscious can be earthshaking. Assess your unplanned choices and where they have taken you, knowing you are destined to repeat those choices and double-down on the results. Is that the result you want to reinforce? Is that the type of person you want to be and the type of life you want to live? Which habits are making you consistently unhappy, unproductive, less than? Find them, and replace them with something you see would be an improvement.
Once we know we are creating habits whether we want to or not, this can set us on a path to redefine ourselves. If we see, for example, we have created a pattern of consistently putting off difficult tasks, but don’t want that to be what defines us, we can flip our script and create a new habit. It is VERY difficult at first, but policing our choices closely and holding our feet to the fire as we intentionally make choices can setup a new way of being that becomes the new normal.
Lets say you want to become the one who powers through the difficult tasks and doesn’t put them off. For the next month, every time you see something difficult arise in your life, tackle it first. If it is too big to do all in one day, setup a plan to do it realistically in multiple pieces and soon. Then, follow that plan to the T. Do this every time something frightens you or feels big.
At first, creating a new habit will be hard. You will be swimming against the stream of old habits you didn’t want but created unintentionally. Your mind will fight you, but you can replace those old thought patterns with new ones. As you push yourself to follow the new thought patterns you actually want (e.g. “Let’s bang this out!” or “Let’s get this behind us!”), you will find them becoming easier and easier. Label the things you don’t want to repeat and when you see that old mindset pop up, say to yourself, “Nope! Not this time!”, replace them with your new thought pattern and actions, and make the choice you want in your life.
Take time to reassess
Eventually the intentional habits and thought patterns will replace your old, unintentional ones. However, be sure you consistently give yourself a moment to sit and asses. Often we are spending so much time doing, we don’t take the time to assess what we have done, and how it is making us feel. If you identify old habits that have started creeping in again that you don’t want, or new ones, this gives you the magic opportunity to replace them with something better.
Every day is a new day to create the habits and way of being that you want and admire. Create yourself every day and know that every moment is a new opportunity to be the person you most want to be.