Hey beautiful people,
Eric here, on day 34 of the habit forming experiment! I have been running each day, every day, for 34 days straight. Success! However, I’m also a liar…I have missed a few days. I have missed one Sunday, one Saturday and I missed a day last week. On days I did not run I went to the gym instead except for those three days. It’s hard work to form a habit and I feel that I’m at the point which I will refer to as the “wall”.
The wall is a point during habit forming that after many days of determination you want to call it quits. It’s not a grandiose moment when you throw up your hands and declare that this stupid thing is futile, more a slow lapse of motivation. Your reaction to the wall determines whether or not the habit you are working on will be overridden by the previously ingrained habit. It is hard work to overcome this and for good reason.
Imagine for a moment if it was easy to replace habits. Imagine that after two weeks of running, or writing, or public speaking, that these actions would become habits and you would perform them into perpetuity with ease. If this was the case, which I’m so glad it is not, almost everyone with slight motivation would be a top performer. As I mentioned in previous posts, success and the ability to achieve life goals come down to obtaining certain habits, period. By it being so difficult to form habits, it creates a clear void between the achievers and non achievers. This creates opportunities for you.
The hardest part about forming a habit is the time it takes and your commitment to that time. Studies have shown a habit can form in as little as a month and as long as four months. It is person and habit specific. I have not felt my running habit take full control yet so I’m pushing through. That being said, the following is why all of this is worth your time and commitment.
How do you define success? I would say it is achieving your goals whether family, health or career oriented. How do you achieve your goals? I’d first assume that you have to write them down, then come up with a game plan to complete them. For example, I want to look better in a swimsuit, or, I want to be the best parent. To be more specific I’d want to lose 20 pounds and keep it off and spend 30 more quality minutes every day with my kids. This is where habits come in.
The problem is you already have a string of habits that are ingrained in your everyday that are taking up the time slots needed to make those goals happen. When you decide, ok fat lazy butt, lets wake up early everyday and run until I lose 20 pounds. Also when I get home each day I’ll spend 30 minutes right away with my kids. Bing, bang, boom sexy awesome parent complete. You know its not that easy….but why?? It’s because there is always a “snooze roll over twice and back to bed” habit lurking behind the get up early and run action your attempting. It’s literally ingrained in your brain and unfortunately your brain can not decipher which are good or bad habits. Your brain is constantly looking for patterns and once a long enough pattern emerges, it replaces the previous pattern with the new one. So if you force yourself to run for two months straight every morning your brain says “ok, from now on I have to wake her up at 5am, get the heart ready for running, and make sure to produce endorphins upon waking since were going to exercise”. No longer is it going to tell you to automatically hit the snooze and roll over.
The purpose of this discussion is to point out that the important goals you have can most effectively be achieved through the forming of habits. Of the many personal development books I have noticed a common theme that states that achievement comes in bite-sized pieces. Lifelong goals take small daily actions. These small actions, when performed daily for long periods of time, create extraordinary results. Personal development writers have referred to this effect as “compounded interest” whereas the value gained far exceeds the sum of your inputs. Start building or replacing habits people!
So my habit experiment continues. I’m going to continue to run/gym daily as it is now a habit (i think), and will now tack on building another habit. My goal is to attack a new habit, one at a time, spending at least a month devoted to each. My habit for the next thirty days will be writing (I received credit today for this post :)). I will need to at least write for 10 minutes a day, everyday. Sounds easy and that is the idea; make your habits achievable and you can always increase the time or intensity later. I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiments. Thank you all for reading!