The harsh truth
You’re going to die.
I’m going to die. We’re all going to die.
Few things in life are as certain as that. We all have things we want to do before we leave this world. How many of us actually put in the work to check those items off our lists? (Do you even have your list written out?)
Not many of us, I’d guess. I know I could do better. It was only the other week that I ticked off “Take dancing lesson”.
The New York diversion
It took an impending trip to New York (another item ticked off the bucket list) to attend an international networking conference (and another tick) and also spend a week there (yep, you guessed it, another tick). I could go on but the point to take away is that our dreams will only become reality through action.
Don’t let your dreams stay dreams. That was a lesson I learned relatively recently.
The opportunity for the New York trip came to me rather innocuously, and it was only through action that it turned into a concrete trip that I’ll be taking in less than a month from now.
Back to the point
“What does this have to do with habits?” you may ask. Good question.
Habits are the foundations of our lives. Think about your life right now. What does a typical day look like for you? Have a think, and jot down what comes to mind.
Now think about another day. Unless the two were weekday and weekend, I expect they’ll be very similar.
That’s the power of habit. It allows us to get through life in an environment that bombards us with far more information than our ancestors ever had to endure.
Without our habits, overwhelm would reign. With them, so much of our lives just unfold automatically.
Most of the time, that’s just fine. Beneficial even.
What happens when it’s not?
Habits are neither good nor bad
That’s when we find ourselves downing ice cream after dinner each night, after first turning to it during a stressful week or a bad breakup.
The ice cream served its purpose yet, long after the stress or hurt had disappeared from our lives, we find ourselves snacking away.
It’s become a habit. One that piles on the pounds and ultimately ends up with us feeling bad about ourselves.
Why do some people end up with ice cream habits in front of Netflix, while others end up with a morning workout that sets up their days perfectly and keeps them in shape?
One person made a decision to work out in the morning, and pretty soon they’ve grown accustomed to the good feeling they get, and their increasing fitness.
Those of us that opted for some ice cream and Netflix after a bad day became accustomed to the rewards from that (because, let’s be honest here, ice cream tastes great, and our little primate brains light up like a Christmas tree from all the pleasure) and pretty soon, it’s a habit. We’ll feel a nagging sensation if we don’t have our ice cream.
Habits don’t like change…
That’s it then? Those who chose the workout are sorted for life, while those who chose the ice cream are screwed?
Our brains would be more than happy for that to be the case. They’ve invested a hell of a lot of time and effort into become a very stable part of the fabric of our minds.
… but they can be changed
It’s certainly easier to let our habits play out, day after day, but that isn’t how it has to be. I’ll be continuing this series, digging into habits and how they’ve helped and hindered me. You may recognise aspects of yourself in what I share. I’ll also reveal how I was able to reshape my habits.
I certainly didn’t start off with a raft of good habits, but I have a raft of them now. I can show you how to do the same thing.
Over to you
Leave a comment, and let me know what bothers you about your habits. What would you like to change?