We humans are creatures of habit. We have evolved over thousands of years to like routine, to like predictability and to become ingrained in a certain series of events.
Most of us therefore have a routine that we pretty much follow every single day. Maybe you start your day by waking up, making breakfast, having a shower, getting dressed and then watching the news for 10 minutes with a cup of coffee before running out the door.
This is no coincidence. This comes down to the entire way we are hardwired. The way our brains work and the way our biology operates. Repeating the same actions or thoughts over and over again essentially means that we are repeatedly using the same neuronal pathways and causing the same connections to light up and fire.
If you repeat one action followed by another often enough, they will become so ingrained as to become automatic and beyond our conscious control. We call this a ‘habit loop’ which consists of 3 phases; The trigger, the behaviour and the reward.
In short, the more we repeat the same behaviour over and over, the harder it is for us to change that behaviour.
If the behaviour in question involves smoking, then this is bad news. But if the behaviour involves going to the gym, then it’s great news. I have done some form of exercise since I was 7 years old. That’s when I took up gymnastics and trained 3 times a week. (I’m 45 this year). That means that I’ve been doing something consistently for 38 years. As you might expect, I now find it almost impossible to not do any form of exercise. I love working out in one way or another, it’s a part of who I am.
In other words, harnessing the power of habit can be a powerful tool in helping you to get whatever you want from life:
Often you will read that the best way to create a new habit is to repeat that action for thirty days. If you can do that, then eventually you will have ingrained the behaviour deeply enough that you will be able to keep it up.
This makes it a little easier setting your goals around creating a new habit. If you know that you want to exercise first thing in the morning for thirty days only, then that can be easier to get your head around than thinking you have to do it forever.
A good tip for creating a new habit is to attach it to your old habits and your surroundings. So, if you want to create a habit of flossing your teeth, then the obvious option is to attach this to a habit you already stick to such as brushing your teeth!
Likewise, if you want to get into the habit of ironing your shirts, pick a specific point in the day for it to come after – such as making your morning tea.
This works because it connects the new behaviour to old ones inside your brain. You have a network of neurons that fire whenever you make your morning tea. Now, when that network of neurons fire, they should also cause the new network – the ironing shirts network to light up. The two are now connected.
This also works on a practical level: you need to find a convenient time for your new habit to take place and you need to find a convenient time and place in which to do it. You need to know that said time and place is always going to be convenient.
I wanted to take up meditation a while back for example as a regular part of my routine. I struggled at first because there always seemed to be more important things to be doing and I could never find the right time. So, what I did was to attach my meditation session to my morning routine. I started setting my alarm for half hour earlier (I used to need a few snoozes) and after a while I was able to get up and fit my meditation in before I did anything else. It’s now ingrained and part of my day.
One action is a habit but if you string these together, then you have a routine.
Looking at the practical aspect of stringing habits together and knowing where you will be and what time it will be when you do that thing is incredibly important for accomplishing goals. If you can build a routine for yourself that contains multiple good habits, then you’ll find that you massively enhance your likelihood of success in all areas.
Creating a routine is a powerful way to accomplish your goals.
You can learn more about creating more powerful habits in our Personal Transformation Mastery self-study course.
If you need any help creating better, healthier habits to move you towards success you can email me or take a look at the services we offer here. Using the FLOAT system we take our clients from Chaos to Calm in both life and business and help you to create the success you deserve.