The Upside of Concentrating on Your Habits
“Depending on what they are, our habits will either make us or break us. We become what we repeatedly do.” ―Sean Covey
Sean Covey is the Author of the highly acclaimed ‘7 Habits if Highly Effective People’, although I’m yet to read it, I’ve heard incredibly good things. I think the point Sean makes is an incredibly good one. We are, essentially, what we do day in day out. Is there anything more pure and simple than that.
If you write everyday, you are a writer. Be the very definition. If you teach everyday, you are a teacher. If you film and produce every day, you are a film maker. With a little bit of time, practice and discipline, we can, in theory become whatever we wish. Except for a basket baller, I’m barely 5ft.
Habits are so curious because once they are embedded, to which there is quite a lot of debate of how long that takes, they become part of our daily routine. It does though, take quite a lot of patience to assess things on a daily-basis. Often we can get sidetracked into looking at where we want to be in a year, five years. We see glimpses of big houses and shiny cars and we forget that to get there, we need to cultivate solid, sustainable habits.
Focusing on our habits can, simply, change our lives. If we give it enough time and patience. Ahh, patience.
The Upside to Concentrating on Your Habits:
Concentrate on Habits That You Want Ten Years From Now
It really is quite difficult to think about who we want to be in ten years. Not what we physically want to have. Cars and big house for most people. Rather who we want to be. Do you want to be someone that tells stories that people listen to? Do you want to be someone that creates everyday? Do you want to be someone that looks after their body and mind?
Once you figure out who you want to be in ten years time you can deconstruct what it takes to get there. You can then make decisions on your habits that align with your future self. Once you’ve mastered the habits i.e. you do it without thinking, it becomes a foregone conclusion that you are that person you wanted to become.
By cultivating habits that your future self would be proud of, you are creating your future self. You are, quite simply, practicing who you want to be, thus being that person.
One upside of concentrating on your habits is how feasible it is. Day by day you improve.
Concentrating on your habits is wonderfully simple. They are tangible, editable, simple. It’s the quickest way, in my opinion, to get to wherever you want to go. It’s really quite manageable to drink an extra 200ml of water in a day. It’s quite manageable to work for 10 minutes on your ‘side hustle’ 5 days a week.
Tony Robbins said: “if you haven’t got 10 minutes for yourself each day, then what are we doing.”
Everyone has got 10 minutes. The beauty of habits is they compound. Each and every time you get more efficient, try different things, create in different ways and become better. You just need to you get your bum in the seat and commit to 10 minutes.
Think of it as a game
We take life too seriously sometimes and we don’t need to. Okay, sometimes we need too. However, with habit formation there is an opportunity to have some fun with it. You will have to battle with your inner demons. You will have to convince yourself to go out for a jog when you really don’t want to. You will have to talk yourself round to write, even though no one is reading because you made an agreement with yourself. What are you going to do when 8pm rolls around and you haven’t cycled today, are you going to be the person that gets on the bike or the one that gets on the sofa? By the way, none of those people are less of a person.
If you think of building habits as a game it feels a lot less detrimental to your life and becomes a bit of fun. All of a sudden you switch from:
“If I don’t do these 100 pushups I will never achieve anything in my life and I’ll be stuck where I am forever.”
“If I do these 100 pushups I’ll reward myself with playing catch with the dog.”
Less serious, more fun and probably more likely to happen.
It’s a Great Way to Learn About Yourself
An additional upside of concentrating on your habits is increased self-awareness.
Learning to build habits is one way to really understand yourself. To get familiar with how you act, the things that drive you. Learn how to get yourself motivated. Weirdly, you also build a reliance and trust with yourself. If you manage to complete the said habit a handful of times, perhaps ten, you will feel a sort of bond with it. It becomes meaningful. It becomes painful to not do it.
That’s exactly what happened to me with writing. Somewhere between late January and February of this year, I’d said to myself I was going to write 200 articles by the end of the year. Like all great love stories, I have no idea where it came from. Nonetheless, it’s something I said to myself. This wasn’t anything especially new, I say to myself all the time I’m going to do something and then find myself in a Netflix trance two hours later. However, this time I’d managed to write ten or so articles. So doing an eleventh didn’t feel that much of a hassle and it would have also been a shame to waste ten good (really, really bad) articles.
Just like that I created a reputation between me and myself to deliver on what I said I would.
It Makes Sustainable
Another upside of concentrating on your habits is sustainability.
In reality, you are probably not going to become a millionaire by working solid for the next month. I mean, you might but what will probably happen is that by the end of the month you will feel some serious burn out. You’ll be so sick of whatever you were doing, you’ll never want to do it again. By focusing on small improvements over a long period of time, you will see sustainable improvements. Improvements that you will be able to build on. I think that’s perhaps the most important thing, continual, sustainable growth.
In a way, habit formation is a little bit like building a house. Get the basics right or the foundations right first. I wouldn’t advise trying to start 7 new habits in a day, the likelihood is you’ll stick with approximately zero by the end of week two. It’s the equivalent of throwing in concentrate, brick, cement into the half dug out foundations and then trying to start the brickwork. You’ll get five bricks in and it’ll fall down. Start small, really small. Drink 200ml more water a day. Walk for an extra 5 minutes. Practice journalling for 6 minutes.
The world we’ve grown up in, it can feel horrendeously painful to start that small. Frustratingly so. All you want to do is see the results right now.
“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” ― Aristotle
As Aristotle said, it is bitter. Bitter to see tiny improvements that feel like they are barely moving the dial. However, we need to move away for wishing for better right now and trusting in the process. By drinking a little more water, exercising a little more frequently and eating a tiny bit healthier, over a long time, with incremental improvements, we’ll see the results.
A good way to think about it is over the long term. After all, if you had everything sorted right now, what would you spend your time thinking about?
If you liked this have a gander at my other articles 🙂