Habits. They are hard to break, and hard to make. A habit is an extremely powerful force in our lives because when something is a habit, we no longer think about it – we just do it.
Our days are made up of dozens of little habits. From the time we wake up, what we eat and drink, and how we interact with others are all habits that we develop over time. Each of these little habits affects our lives more than we realize.
This quote from Jack D. Hodge, author of The Power of Habit, speaks to just how foundational habits are to our every day actions.
Brian Tracy, a motivational speaker and expert on time management, often points out that successful people usually aren’t more talented or intelligent than everyone else. They simply have developed good daily habits.
Our habits greatly affect our lives, whether for the good or bad. Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, based his books and speeches on this principle. His son, Sean, continues to promote this philosophy in his own writing and public speaking.
Let’s start with those habits we didn’t develop on purpose.
These are the behaviors that we default to, just because they’re comfortable and we’ve always done them. Bad habits can be so entrenched that breaking them can be as painful as pulling teeth. If you see a bad habit forming, nip it in the bud now and save yourself some pain later.
Benjamin Franklin needs no introduction. As a driven and inspired young man, he went from being the youngest of the 15 children of an obscure soap and candlemaker to an inventor, author, and Founding Father of the United States.
Franklin knew a thing or two about discipline and good habits. He also formed a few bad habits that affected his heath and reputation. We would be wise to listen to Franklin’s advice – he knew what he was talking about.
J.C. Penney was a man who turned a small dry goods store into 175 department stores by the time he retired. Penney was known for his self-discipline, and his was one of the few retail businesses that survived the depression.
Unfortunately, we’ve all found ourselves in the grips of a bad habit. It could be something simple that requires just a little daily effort, or even something big enough to require a lifestyle overhaul.
How do we free ourselves from the chains of a bad habit?
Wayne Dyer was a foster child who overcame his difficult beginning to become a best-selling author and motivational speaker. He has been called the “father of motivation” by those who enjoy his books.
This quote shows his belief that we keep our bad habits because—deep down—we feel that we need that substance/relationship/activity. Dyer says that we must realize that we really don’t need it before we can break the habit.
Breaking a bad habit may leave a void. According to this quote from Bryant McGill, you will be more successful in breaking a habit if you fill it with something that you love.
McGill, an author and motivational speaker, fills his time with activism and diplomacy. McGill has even been nominated for a Nobel peace prize.
The great thing about habits is that once you develop them, your habit is your default action. Experts say that it takes an average of 20 to 90 days for an action to become a habit. How can you motivate yourself to make that choice over and over until it becomes your go-to behavior?
You may feel that you don’t want to go overboard while changing your habits. Breaking that relationship, avoiding those friends, or waking up at 4am to go to the gym seems over the top.
But, according to bestselling novelist John Irving, if the good habit you are trying to form is essential to a healthy, happy, life, it’s worth being a little fanatical. Say no. Say goodbye. Dive right in.
To create good habits in your life, start small. Conquer flossing before bed. Or bring your lunch everyday instead of buying it. Exercise your “excellence muscle” with little things, to build up your stamina for tackling the bigger stuff.
You develop good habits by doing them daily. You also must do them one day at a time. Change a behavior that you do every day. Tell yourself, “One more day,” then tell yourself the same thing tomorrow.
Pastor and leadership expert John C. Maxwell uses this principle when counseling churches and leadership conferences.
The most successful people are a product of their habits. Every talented musician, athlete, entrepreneur, author and activist achieved their success through developing daily habits that led to achievement. Here are some quotes from those successful people:
How important are habits? Our habits are the materials we use to build our lives. It’s easy to fall into bad habits when we fail to plan our day and then default to what’s comfortable. Use the power of habit for good by starting small and working up to larger goals.
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LAWYER & ONLINE ENTREPRENEUR
After graduating from law school and passing the bar, I struggled to find work, pay my bills, and make ends meet. That's when I decided to take control of my future and start working for myself. Now, several years and a handful of companies later, I'm sharing how I launched a successful business, and how you can do it too.