What is a habit?
An automatic reaction to a specific situation.
A settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.
The tendency for something done very frequently to become automatic.
Our habits are the thoughts and actions we consistently take when faced with certain situations and stimulus.
Our habits are either good or bad, effective or ineffective, a help or hindrance. The actions you take without question or judgement are the ones that will either serve or refrain you from your goal and purpose. It is these habits that we have to question. ‘Why did you do it this way?’ ‘Is this really the best way to do it?’ Constantly question your own habits to develop and learn more effective actions and thoughts. How frustrating it is to hear ‘that is how I have always done it’. Those who declare such notions are no longer thinking, or directing their actions. They are just doing. You can just ‘do’ you have to more proactive you have to think too.
Those who ‘just do’ will rarely change or improve, not by any means of personal growth or development. It takes the identification of the good habits and the identification of the bad. It takes the elimination of bad habits and creation of the good. It takes the analysis of the good to improve and refine. It takes all of the above to truly become effective, to change and improve. Leading to you achieving your goal.
Let’s take a look at those who are successful in there personal development and specifically their fitness improvement. What good habits do they possess;
Routine that allows and schedules for rest, productivity, exercise, recreation and food.
Sleep 8 hours a day
Plan food ahead of time (meal prep)
Thoughtful food consumption
Don’t binge eat/drink
Drink water frequently (carry a bottle with you everywhere)
Follow and execute a training programme
Notice that all of these habits will serve their long term goals no matter what they are but also note the key characteristics these habits will develop. Consistent, Long term focus, controlled and self aware. These types of habits create these types of characteristics, the combination of the two are what leads to success.
So if those are the habits and characteristics of those who are successful in their fitness improvements those who are unsuccessful will have the opposite;
Poor sleep quality and pattern
Not enough/no water consumption
Spontaneous consumption without consideration
Sporadic, unplanned or non existent training.
These habits will not serve the long term goal. They often lead to characteristics such as laziness, inconsistency, lead by short term gratification and lack self control and discipline. These are the habits and characteristics that combine together and lead to poor results if any at all and often regression.
So to truly change character and align yourself with success and effectiveness you have to eliminate your bad habits and create their polar opposites. You have to create habits. How do you create a habit?
To create and sustain a habit three principles have to be in place to create a strong and lasting habit.
You have know ‘what you have to do’ and ‘why you have to do it’. Let’s use the example of a poor habit from earlier. I currently have no routine, I know I need a routine (what) and I know that I need a routine to provide me with structure that will lead me to becoming more consistent and organised (why).
You have to be able to ‘do’ the habit you set out to do. Following the example. I can write, I can buy a diary and a pen, I know how to write a schedule. I could buy a journal or diary that already compartmentalised everything for me, I just have to fill it in. I know ‘how to’.
You have to ‘want to’ change the habit, you have to be willing to put the hard work and effort in because you desire to achieve your goal. Continuing the example, you have to desire your fitness improvements and change in habit to become more organised and structured. A lot of this desire will come down to proactivity, you may not have the skill to change, you may not know how to yet, but being willing to learn how, taking the initiative and being proactive to find ways to learn.
You have to want to change (DESIRE), you have to be PROACTIVE and question your current habits. Questioning you habits will lead you to attaining KNOWLEDGE of what to change and why. Combine this with an understanding of ‘how to’ or a DESIRE to learn ‘how to’ and you have SKILL. Throughout this process and keeping it all together is your DESIRE to change and create a habit.
What you can go and do;
Identify and question your habits (PROACTIVITY)
Identify the bad habits and what they need to change to, what habits you need to create in their place (KNOWLEDGE)
If you know how to implement these changes then do so, and if you don’t. Learn. (SKILL)
Remember why you want to change and think with a long term mindset. (DESIRE)
This isn’t easy. Habits are habits for a reason. They have become ingrained in your daily lifestyle and behaviours and will take time and consistent effort to change. If you fall off or fail on the odd occasion, jump straight back on the horse and go again. It tests your strength of character but that is all part of the fun. Enjoy the process, take it head on never stop trying to improve. Your in this game until the day you die so you might as well give it your best shot.