What are habits?
Now before I go any further, first let’s understand why we actually create habits in the first place. Habits are really just a behaviour that we do on a consistent basis which has been turned into an automatic routine by our brains. Our brains do this so we can clear up our major thinking and decision making processes to focus on other things. It is an efficiency mechanism.
Neuroscientists have actually traced our habit making behaviours to the basal ganglia, whereas our ability to make decisions to the prefrontal cortex. Now these are just nice fancy words, but what I want you to understand out of this, is that once a habit is formed, it moves out of the area of our brain which makes decisions in the moment and into the part of our brain which is also responsible for long term memory and emotions, and for that particular behaviour pattern the decision making part of our brain effectively goes to sleep, this is why it becomes automatic and we do it without even thinking.
Think about the following situations which happen for most of you reading every single day; what you habitually do when:
- What is the first thing you do when you get to work?
- What do you habitually do throughout the day?
- What is the first thing you do when you come home?
- What do you do on your Saturday mornings? Your evenings?
- How do you habitually distract yourself?
- What do you habitually work on?
Have you ever gotten in the car and then gotten to work and not known how you got there? And you say shit! That was kind of dangerous or had the experience of after initially struggling to park a car to then be able to reverse parallel park, while drinking your coffee and chatting on the phone all at the same time? It just becomes automatic.
Now that is a lot of work related things, however apply it to relationships:
- How do you habitually greet your partner?
- What do you tend to habitually do together?
- How do you handle disagreements?
- How do you…? Fill in the blank with whatever you want in your mind.
What about your health?
Do you think healthy, energetic and vital people who look and feel freaking amazing have a certain set of things they do in various areas of their life done consistently which have gotten them to their level of success in their bodies, in their energy or whatever area you want to look at? Of course they do. They have eating habits, exercise habits, self-care habits, learning habits, and they know why they are working to create this result.
In fact, apply it to any and every part of your life.
When did I choose this?
Here is a challenging thought though – when did you decide that the things you do were going to be your habits and take up almost half of your day? When did you choose that habit and is that habit really serving you at the level you need it to?
I want you to start thinking about habits in a bit of a different way for your life. Think of your habits as the standards that you hold yourself too. When you think about them in this way, it brings them all back into your conscious mind and really makes you question them at a deep level.
If you want to create a different set of results in life, then you first have to raise the standards in which you show up in life, which ultimately means you have to re-design your habits to be in alignment with the higher standard you are committing to living. To change your life, change your habits. It’s simple right? Well maybe not as easy as that. The reality is for many of us we have been running these habits for many years and perhaps decades and we have worn in some deep neural pathways for them, so it is going to take effort to create new habits.
Last part of this blog will be posted next week!