Each of us has a virtual workforce that is capable of amazing things!
This workforce is more reliable than any collection of human beings.
It is as consistent as machines; without the expense and maintenance.
It is easy to train, and once set – is extremely resistant to change.
It comes at very low investment and works effectively with minimal supervision.
I am talking about the more than 10,000 habits that each of us own. Treat them as your private workforce and the possibilities are endless. Ignore them however, and they will gladly be your demise. With a little understanding and appreciation of them, we can make dramatic shifts in our lives, careers, and businesses.
Here are a few things to keep in mind about your habits.
It is estimated that 96% of our decisions and actions are executed by our habits. Without them, some suggest humans would not have conscious brain-power to do much of anything! It seems that habits take care of the repetitive stuff so that we can focus on the things that are new and changing… until they too become habit.
Habits don’t care if their task is positive, negative, short-term, long-term, frequently used or not; when they are called upon, they deliver – even after decades of being dormant.
You cannot simply ‘quit’ a habit. They must be replaced or re-trained. All it takes is a firm approach, the repetition of specific action, and a reward/positive encouragement.
How to control your habits
One way to look at habits is like a sort of software for your brain. They run behind the scenes and unnoticed, yet impact everything. It is good to update them once in a while and see what is still important.
The first step to changing or updating habits is to simply be aware of them. Do you take a certain route to work most days – even down to the same lane on the expressway? Do you allow alerts from mobile phone to distract from other tasks? What about aspects of your morning or evening routine?
Once you are aware of them, simply decide whether you like/need them or not. Only you can decide this and it is never a black/white thing. Because they are so deeply engrained in our psyche, they often come with some sneaky protections.
Rather than use words like ‘quitting’ or ‘changing’; approaching with a positive language helps tremendously. Drinking 4 cups of coffee each day can easily be updated to “enjoying 3 cups while organizing my call-list.” It helps to relate updates to core strengths, bonus opportunities, and enjoyable tasks.
Stay focused on upgrades for a couple of months. Schedule daily reminders, check lists, and ;/score keeping so that you can monitor progress. As new habits are trained, they needs lots of reinforcement. Otherwise the old habit acts like gravity and pulls everything back towards it. I sometimes schedule random 5-min appointments months ahead in my calendar to pop up and ask me how I am doing with the new habit.
Feel free to custom-design your own habits. Do you want to arrive at meetings early and be fully prepared? How about confidently asking for referrals and introductions? Sending out monthly newsletter or value-based communication? What about building a habit of thanking people for their contributions; doing tiny favors for others; giving referrals and introductions; or even the habit of setting and achieving goals.
Anything is possible through your habits!
After knowing just this much, it is easy to understand why Aristotle said “Excellence is not an act… it is a HABIT.”