“Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.” ―Stephen Covey
Our daily activities are made up of about 45% of habits, and success or failure is the result of developing strong habits over time. There is no such thing as sudden success; in addition to their exceptional athleticism and talent, professional athletes also achieve success through the innumerable repetitions they execute throughout practise. As a result of these repetitions, they develop habits that enable them to instantly perform at their best under extreme duress.
The good news is that you can improve your health, performance, and happiness by starting to cultivate excellent habits right away.
The Need for Habits:
Our ability to work well and survive depends on our habits. Your brain would quickly get overloaded if you always had to pause and consider what to do after waking up or using the loo. Associative learning is the process through which habits form, and it is through this process that they are activated by anything in our internal or external world that we link with the habit. For instance, as the clock strikes noon, many people get hungry for lunch.
Without developing habits, your brain would have to work too hard to modify your behaviour in the long run. For this reason, forcing oneself to alter your behaviour for a brief period of time is possible, but doing so permanently is harder. If your objective is to eat better, for instance, you may make a new, personalised meal plan each day or develop the habit of having yoghurt for breakfast, salads for lunch, and a protein and vegetable combo for supper. Which appears to be more durable?
Success vs Habit:
Have you heard the phrase “overnight success”? Instead of everything that came before it, the outside world views it as the most spectacular incident. But for someone who succeeds, the enormous leap was made possible by years of consistent work even when it seemed they were not making any progress.
Success is the result of daily habits that transform over the course of a lifetime, not just once.
We frequently aim for significant advancements, yet if you make 1% progress every day for a year, you will have advanced 37 times. On the other hand, if you get 1% worse every day for a year, you will almost reach zero.
That embodies the Power of Habit and constancy in action.
Goals vs. Identity vs. Habit:
Setting goals is great, but what keeps us motivated over the long term? The most powerful form of motivation is when a habit becomes a proud part of who you are. Habit is more about becoming something than having something. Both your identity and your habits are shaped by your habits. A two-way roadway exists.
You can form a habit out of motivation, but the only way you can maintain it is if it becomes a part of who you are. Define identity-based habits, act accordingly, and you will gradually take on those identities.
- How does identity develop? – Every day, you cast a vote for the kind of person you want to become by your actions, and as your evidence of identity grows, so do your votes. Therefore, by accumulating votes over time due to regular routines, you are able to develop the necessary identity and help yourself become the person you desire.
Why Goals Are Insufficient?
Despite the fact that we first set goals for success, they do not induce the behaviours we need to realise them. Here’s why having goals won’t be sufficient:
- Goals are transient. Goal-setting is useful, but what happens after? You could be tempted to revert to your previous behaviours as soon as you start to feel exhausted or like rewarding yourself.
- With goals, it’s all or nothing. If you don’t succeed in achieving a goal, you could lose heart and give up without realising the rewards of your labour.
- Goals demand far too much self-control. We are not machines; we get weary, have emotions, and lose focus. Most people’s failure to achieve their goals is primarily caused by a lack of self-discipline.
- Goals restrict you. When you set a goal, you don’t think about how you might be able to surpass it; instead, you just concentrate on getting there.
- Goals may be implausible. People frequently set their sights so high that even if they fall short, it would still be regarded a success, albeit this is not often the case. Even while achieving success, setting unrealistic expectations causes people to feel like failures.
Why Routines Lead to Success?
While setting objectives is important, focusing on developing good habits will help you achieve your goals far more quickly. The appropriate habits must be formed since they will help you take the small actions necessary to achieve your goals. The following justifies how habits increase success:
- Habits last a lifetime. The habits you form will follow you throughout your entire life. They’ll not only assist you in achieving your objectives but also increase your chances of maintaining success.
- Developing habits is simpler. Goals are long-term successes; habits are actions you may do today and succeed with tomorrow.
- Habits frequently surpass goals. Habits become ingrained in your way of life. Once internalised, they’ll be useful.
- Habits last a lifetime. Even if you don’t initially succeed in achieving your goals, developing healthy habits will still help you live a better life and position you for success in the future.
How is habit formation accomplished?
By moving a task from your conscious to subconscious mind, you can educate your mind to repeat actions unconsciously. This process is known as habit-forming. It lightens the mental burden and makes room for duties like free-thinking and creativity.
Key Considerations for Habit Formation:
- Make It Simple– Make it easy for yourself to repeat the action every day by keeping it as basic as you can.
For instance, if you want to make exercising a habit, start with, say, 5 push-ups each day. The important thing is to keep doing it every day.
- Establish Where and When for Habit– People are more likely to stick with new habits if they have a clear strategy for “When & “Where” they will practise them.
The simplest method is to complete the following sentence:
“At [TIME] and [LOCATION], I will engage in [HABIT NAME].”
By defining – you can also “stack” a new habit on top of an existing one.
“I’ll do [NEW HABIT] after [CURRENT HABIT].”
- Environment is Important in Habit Formation– The environment has an unnoticeable influence on how people behave. By changing your environment, you can produce the proper “CUES” needed for habit, which in turn facilitates habit formation. One area One Use Mantra: Set aside an area for each activity, such as work, study, exercise, and amusement. Divide your room into different activity areas if you don’t have much room, such as a chair for reading, a desk for writing, a table for eating, etc.
It provides a steady environment for habit formation and will aid you in defining the location and purpose of your habits.
Developing Good Habits That Lead to Greatness:
When you can complete tasks without even thinking about them, you stop focusing on improvements and small details. Consequently, performance gradually deteriorates over time.
Habits plus purposeful practise equal mastery
To perfect the habit, develop a system of reflection and review because it helps you recognise your shortcomings and evaluate potential directions for progress.
P.S- For more insights, and deep understanding you can read Atomic Habits by James Clear.