Even the biggest dreams are realized through small consistent steps done over time, not big leaps all at once. Our habits help to automate those steps that will get us to our dreams.
What Are Habits?
We all have habits engrained in our lifestyle, whether we like them or not. Which means we are going to either have a life filled with good habits or bad habits. The secret is to replace old bad habits with new good habits whenever possible. This not only helps us stay on our desired path but doubles your ability to get where you want faster.
Three Parts Of A Habit
A habit can be defined as ‘a regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up’ and broken down into three parts:
1. A Cue: Something that triggers our action.
2. An Action: That is engaged with the habit.
3. A Reward: What we get for performing the action.
Let’s dive into each part in order to help us understand how habits work.
First The CUE
What are some cues for your current habits? They could be time bound, such as waking up and grabbing a coffee, or getting home and sitting in front of the tv. They could be activity bound, such as getting in the car and turning on the radio. Start thinking about all the different cues in your life already triggering habits.
Next the ACTION
At first, as you create new habits, it won't be natural and you will have to force yourself to do it. In the beginning, set yourself up for success the day before as much as possible. For example, if you are trying to build a habit of working out, have your clothes and equipment ready to go. Or if you are wanting to write a book, have your desk cleaned off and set up for writing the next day. Fortunately, the way habits work, the more you do them, the easy they get.
Finally the REWARD
All of your habits already have rewards, even if it is vegging in front of the TV, which gives you the reward of comfort and entertainment. The key is to increase the rewards of your new habits to be greater than those of your old habits to continually motivate you. Most of the time, it is a simple as defining and remembering why you wanted to create the new habit in the first place. You can use a habit tracker if that done check mark provides you extra motivation each time. Or maybe you are a visual person - you could keep a picture of that vacation you want to take each time you make out your budget to help motivate you to stay on track.
For Your Life
Let's dig into an example to illustrate these three parts of a habit. Let's say I have a habit of grabbing a donut on the way to work every day. My cue is driving by the shop and my positive reward is a few minutes of tasty pleasure. But after a month of this habit, I have some undesired results, such as discomfort with tight pants, not liking what I see in the mirror, and more difficulty playing with my kids.
The problem is that these motivators aren't at the right time to override the desire of that tasty donut that is cued as I drive by the shop. So, I must set things up to work in my favor. I could write all the reasons I want to stay trim and have them in the car with me to read as I pass the donut shop. Or I could replace my bad habit with a new good habit of eating a healthy breakfast at home before leaving for work. It is all about aligning the cues and rewards around the habits you want to give you the life you want.
And For Your Dreams
Habits should be the recurring steps you take toward your dreams. Find the one thing that will get you the closest to your dreams if done constantly over time. Start with that ONE habit and set your cue, action, and reward. No matter what your dreams are, make sure your habits are the foundation of your plan to achieve them, as everything big is built on habits. Writers write consistently. Runners run consistently. Painters paint consistently. Ask yourself "What does the person who accomplishes this dream do consistently?" Now set up your new habit. Remember if you can replace a bad habit in the process.
Save Yourself Time
Habits are also great time-savers. One of the biggest questions we get when it comes to reaching dreams is “how to find the time?”. Creating better habits in one of those ways. It takes the planning and energy out of the steps needed to reach a goal. Moreover, habits create great efficiencies in your life giving you more energy to focus on your next step.
As you are setting up habits remember "It's not a sprint, but a marathon." Trying to add or change many habits at once, is like trying to sprint a marathon, where you will gas out quickly. So, start with one desired habit, until it is established and then add the next one and so on. Studies show that it takes between 33 and 66 days for a new habit to form, so rely on discipline, planning and doing everything you can in the beginning to set yourself up for success, knowing that it will just get easier and easier as time goes by.
What habit are you going to set up first?
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