By: Jennifer McArver (Reichek)
Repetition… so much of what we do each and every day is a pattern of repetition. Research says that after 90 days of completing a task, or performing an activity, it becomes habit. Much of what we do day in and day out, is often times a reflection of a subconscious “auto-pilot mode” that becomes a part of who we are. Maybe you’ve developed the habit of smoking, maybe its nail biting, who knows… maybe you’re the pen-clicker person at work. Whatever the habit is, if we step back and think about it, we realize that so many of our habits have been picked up by accident. For example, I don’t believe anyone wakes up in the morning and desires to be the “pen-clicker guy”. Thus, being aware of the repetitive behaviors we use each day is critical to our success.
Identifying Good verses Bad Habits
The first step in feeding good habits is to recognize/identify the good habits we have, as well as the bad ones. Good habits typically will reinforce productivity and help get you closer to your goals. For example, being physically fit is a requirement to be able to compete in bodybuilding. Thus, I change into my gym clothes at work even though I come home before I go to the gym. Why do I do this? Changing at work sets my mind & my focus on the fact that I am going to the gym; its one less thing I have to worry about doing (aka getting distracted from) when I get home. This gets me closer to my goal and therefore, is a good habit that I will continue to perform. Another example of a really good habit to perform is stirring up your passions and faith each morning. Every day is either an opportunity for us to thrive or to survive. The fun part about understanding this is that we are the ones in charge of our creative process through our habits. Good habits help us to thrive. Every morning I turn on my worship music and “jam out” on my drive to work. This jam sessions relieves the stress of traffic, it fills my soul with energy and gratitude, and it helps start each day with a positive mindset. On the contrary, bad habits distract us or deter us from our goals; they keep us in mediocrity and in the “survival mentality”. A nasty habit that many of us have picked up is always being plugged into the phone – while driving, at the gym, at home, at work, etc. I’m guilty of it too though, but most of the time, social media sucks away productive time from our goals. Random social media time does not get me closer to my goals, in fact, sometimes social media down right distracts me from them and thus, is a bad habit. The key to recognizing bad habits is to view them as opportunities to refine yourself. Identify every bad habit and replace it with a new behavior (aka a good habit).
This all sounds fine and dandy in an ideal world right? Okay cool, I’ll find bad habits, replace them with good ones and boom, I’ll be on my way. I wish it were that easy. Feeding good habits takes time, patience, dedication and self-discipline. Life happens, it’s very easy to skip one day of your new “good habit” behavior and next thing we know, we are right back in the same place we started. Why do you think the health industry thrives so much? People continue to have to start back at day 1 over and over. Here’s the key, give yourself a little grace. We are human, this is where our faith comes into play and why (I feel) it is so important. When we fail, fall, or don’t live up to our own expectations, the key is to get back up where you fell off, dust yourself off and set your sights of the goal again. Focus on where we want to end up rather than a stumble along the path. That’s the patience and self-discipline I mentioned earlier.
How to replace bad habits
We’ve identified the difference between good and bad habits, now it’s time to kick those bad ones to the curb. Mind power is everything when it comes to the replacement of behaviors; honing your mind takes serious self-discipline and repetition. The best tool I can give to anyone looking to reinforce good habits is to constantly dwell on what it is that you want to change or become. We ultimately become what we think about. Have you ever noticed that when you “wake up on the wrong side of the bed” that the whole day seems to go down the drain? The explanation for this is because that is what you are focusing on, thinking about, and therefore, attracting. We have to focus so intently on what we want that everything else becomes secondary and optional. Take me for example; two years ago, if anyone would have asked me if I would be willing to wake up early for a work out, I would have laughed in their face and told them how much I valued my sleep. Truth be told, I still value my sleep, but now I value my goals even more! This is the key: find your passion (whatever that may be), find what sparks your fire. You will be amazed at what you are willing to give up, and even demand from yourself, in order to change to become the best for your goals.
Now that we understand that our thoughts truly determine what we become, which ultimately determines our behaviors and the habits that we form, we understand how important it is to feed these good habits if we want to fulfill our passions and destinies. Life happens, sometimes we don’t hit every mark right on the bulls-eye. That is okay! The point of the matter is, that it’s okay to not hit the mark dead center every time, but no matter what, the bulls-eye is still what we aim for. Our focus, thoughts, behaviors and habits should all align with the bulls-eye.