by Mike Bwanka
How habits rule your life:
How many times have you started a new year’s resolution, fell off, and started it again hoping you’d be able to complete it, but just couldn’t stick with it?
According to a survey conducted by the statistic brain institute only 9.2 percent of people ever achieve their New Year’s resolutions and break free from their bad habits.
Why? Well, as mentioned at the top, habits really do rule our lives. The common issue with this is the lack of self-awareness humans have once our bad habits have taken over. Duke University conducted a study in 2006 which stated that 45% of your life is habit driven. Habits run your life! If you compare that to your everyday actions, about half the things you do in your life are happening automatically.
Tip #1 – START SMALL
A lot of the time, we believe we are beyond capable of accomplishing tasks that require time and effort to be successfully completed. We buy a book, read it for an hour, and most times make it to the end of the first chapter. We feel great about it. This leads us to believing that we can pick up a book and read it for an hour each day. Unfortunately, that method becomes extremely difficult as it requires a lot more time and effort than most people are capable/willing to provide.
What if instead of reading once an hour for one week, you chose to read five days a week, reading for 15 minutes each day. (That’s roughly 1 book a month). Here’s a good set up for your reading sessions:
- Find a quiet place
- Set an alarm to read for 15 minutes
- Get rid of all distractions
- Start reading!!!
Small actions performed on a daily basis create momentum that leads to massive change. Focus on one thing at a time and give it 100%
Tip #2 – CONSISTENCY IS KEY
Try to imagine some of the things you do well that seem to come easily to you. There’s a good chance that you are unaware of these things because of how good you’ve become at doing them. A great example that explains this is the now commonly-achieved simple task of ‘typing’. Think back to when you first learned how to type…you were probably frustrated, impatient, & TERRIBLE! That’s all part of the process of maintaining consistency and making improvements. Every day that we perform an action it becomes easier, with the goal of making it automatic so that we can insert it into our regular routine. When you do something long enough, it helps build credibility. You become someone others can rely and count on…but more importantly you are able to count on yourself for anything, anytime!
“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.” – Tony Robbins
Tip #3 – SELF-AWARENESS IS A MUST
The first step to changing a habit is being aware of it. You can become aware by paying attention to the things you do, the things you can change and setting yourself up for success. If you want to figure out where you’re headed, it’s easier to start with where you are right at this moment.
A quick exercise that can help is to analyse your current habits (by making a list your good & bad habits on a piece of paper). This will then help you to create values and principles for yourself that help you take stock of your current and future actions. By doing this on paper and writing it down, you have a better chance of following through with the work. There was a study done in the British Journal of Health Psychology that found that writing down your intention improved your ability to follow through by 91%. Writing things down is powerful!
The Power of Your Mind.
The brain is a muscle we seldom work on in order to keep fit. It requires the same amount of time and effort (if not more), than we normally use to get our physical bodies in shape. A big part of gaining awareness is sharpening your focus, which requires a variety of mindfulness activities such as meditation. Meditation is a key practice that helps make us conscious of our unconscious habits. It brings you back to the present moment, free from the worries of the past and the unknown that lies ahead. It is the ideal state for awareness to be gained. Ultimately it comes down to digging deeper to understand the person you are, or the person you are becoming…which can only be done by YOU.
Tip #4 – ENJOY THE PROCESS
All throughout our lives, we’re learning new things and dealing with different challenges all with the hopes of getting better and living a happy life. The truth of the matter is that this process ends for many of us by the time we’ve entered “the real world”. We get a job, learn the job, get good at the job and the learning ends there. This causes us to become stagnant with no sense of urgency required because we’re done learning and challenging ourselves.
It’s important to remember the times where we faced the most challenges because that’s where all the growth we’ve ever experienced comes from.
Find that feeling again and challenge yourself to learn something new that will help improve your life. Recognize that it’s a process and embrace it as you do the work required.
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Mike Bwanka is CEO and Cofounder of Toronto-based Continual Growth, a lifestyle company created with the main focus of generating experiences to help people create happiness through personal growth.
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