Habits & Discipline:
At the core of our decision making process are our habits, and discipline (or lack thereof).
Our Habits are deeply ingrained automated responses to triggers. Some are so deep and automated, we don’t even think about them at all. Take driving. When we first learn to drive, every step of the process to even move the vehicle, takes all our concentration. You have to think through everything. After a few years, all you worry about focusing on is the traffic around you. The rest is now habit.
However, this works for bad habits too. The part of the brain that stores habits, does not distinguish between good or bad habits. It is merely programmed by repetitive behavior over time.
What’s more, according to the “Power of Habits”, there is another component. Craving.
Craving is derived in older habits that anticipate a reward for completing the habit. It’s what makes habits we want to break so difficult. Or new habits we want to build seem impossible. Most of us start out with the best intentions and motivation. However, in a few short days or weeks, we fall back into our old habits. Good or bad. Habits are another piece of the puzzle to getting the correct mindset. For more on mindset, see my post on Mindset.
Creating New Habits
Creating new habits takes time. Habits are made by creating loops. The loop consists of a trigger, routine, and reward. Through repetitive routines, we eventually develop an automation that requires less and less cognitive thinking as time marches on. Your brain will eventually associate an event, smell, sound, or sight that will trigger the automatic response. When the clock strikes a certain time you get up, take a shower, eat breakfast, etc. almost without thinking about it.
We have so many habits, we hardly even notice them. It is our brains way of being efficient. There is also a reward that helps drive the habit. You take a shower because you love the feel of being clean, or the hot water. In addition, you put on clothes so you don’t feel naked. You eat so you can feel satisfied, and not hungry.
All three of these parts when repeated every day for a period of time (some say 21 days, but for others it could take longer) these routines will slowly become new habits. Even if they end up being bad ones. Though, just doing this is rarely enough to make a new habit stick.
How many times have we worked out for months. Get to our ideal weight, and within two years are right back where we started? It’s because you can never destroy an old habit. You can only substitute in a new one. If you break any of the habit loops, your older habits will find there way back. How do you get through that? Discipline.
Creating discipline is similar in building muscle. We have to practice and build it up over time. Discipline is really the glue that binds routines, and eventually turns them into habits. The more of a habit a routine becomes, the less discipline is required to perform said routine. So, how do you build discipline? Well, based off of “The Power of Habit” it is easier if you build it by expanding a routine on a subject you really are interested in. Then add in something else that may not be as interesting. Then follow up with something else that interests you.
The idea is that your brain will eventually associate the non interesting subject with the interesting, as you create the craving that you need the uninteresting subject to get the reward of something more interesting. Then before you know it, you will be looking for stuff you really need, but find boring, so you can reach the goal of getting that hit of fun later on.
Making huge changes that require a vast amount of self discipline would be impossible for those who have very little. So, you have to break it down into smaller, easier to manage chunks, and develop both a new habit, and self discipline all in one swoop. As time goes on, you will continually develop, and get better as each skill begins to take less and less discipline to manage. Which frees you up to do more.
By repeating this process over and over, it is possible for someone to be a completely transformed individual in just a few short years. By understanding how to unravel the mysteries on how to create discipline, you can eventually go from a lazy couch potato who is overweight and broke, to a fit as a fiddle person with a drive and sense for business.
Passion and Belief:
The last set of ingredients to successfully creating new habits is passion & belief. These are the engine that drives everything. By having the right belief system and passions, you can solidify your habits into being something automatic. These help you achieve success sooner, and gets you through the routines when they are the hardest to keep up with. They are your reserves when discipline begins to break down.
What if you aren’t very passionate about anything? You have no real drive or motivation? Well, you may think that, but if you found this article, chances are, there is an ember deep within you that desires something different. A better life or just a purpose.
In any case, there is passion within all of us. Repressed ambition that has been pushed back by our society of cubicle manufactured drones. Where in school you are taught to be a cog in the machine of industry. Never how to fuel your ambition…unless that ambition is for better grades, a college degree, and a high paying job. After all, that still fits in the industrialized society in which we live.
The trick to breaking out of all of that is fanning that ember until it grows into an inferno. To do that, you need to start making habits that focus on that little ember glowing deep in the recesses of your soul. Those will be the easiest to manifest. You can actually make a habit of making habits. It is what builds your momentum. Keep checking your goals to make sure each habit you are making or breaking is continually pushing you in the direction of achieving them. For more on goal setting see my post on Goal Setting.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business