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.
Why Worry About Habits?
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.
1. “Habits are important. Up to 90 percent of our everyday behavior is based on habit. Nearly all of what we do each day, every day, is simply habit.” – Jack D. Hodge
This quote from Jack D. Hodge, author of The Power of Habit, speaks to just how foundational habits are to our every day actions.
2. “Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” – Brian Tracy
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.
3. “Depending on what they are, our habits will either make us or break us. We become what we repeatedly do.” – Sean Covey
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.
Preventing Bad Habits
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.
4. “It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.” – Benjamin Franklin
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.
5. “The best way to stop a bad habit is to never begin it.” – J.C. Penney
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.
Breaking Bad Habits
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?
6. “You leave old habits behind by starting out with the thought, ‘I release the need for this in my life’.” – Wayne Dyer
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.
7. “The secret to permanently breaking any bad habit is to love something greater than the habit.” – Bryant McGill
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.
Developing Good Habits
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?
8. “Good habits are worth being fanatical about.” – John Irving
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.
9. “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” – Colin Powell
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.
10. “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to your success is found in your daily routine.” – John C. Maxwell
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.
Successful People and Their Habits
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:
11. “Successful people weren’t born that way. They become successful by establishing the habit of doing things unsuccessful people don’t like to do.” – William Makepeace Thackeray
12. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
13. “Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” – Warren Buffett
14. “Watch your actions, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become your character.” – Vince Lombardi
15. “I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence.” – Charles Dickens
16. “The successful person makes a habit of doing what the failing person doesn’t like to do.” – Thomas Edison
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.