"We are the sum of the habits we have". "The activities you repeatedly engage in ultimately shape who you are". You may have heard these statements before, don't you?
When we start to understand that "the ability to be creative" is not a divine gift brought to Earth by the majesty of Horus himself (or any other God of your preference), but it is just a matter of processes and training, we start to understand the Power of Habit. By definition, a process requires a bunch of steps that organized will lead us from one point to another. Be creative is just the same.
Who we are
When we decide to buy a certain thing, go to certain places, or have certain people around, we are choosing the life we want to live. It shapes our personality and our experiences in life. The habits we decide to have will determine what do we feel, and which will be our life events. There is no right or wrong. We can choose (and there is where all the magic happens). However, it is not everyone who consciously choose the wanted path. It can happen because of external pressure, or maybe because he/she is afraid of what can happen. It doesn't matter. The fact is that we have a choice, and we should be empowered by it, stand up for what we want and believe and take our place in society with joy. Enjoying the path.
Who people think we are
The habits we choose also will determine what people think about us. The way you dress can show to people on the street that work in an executive job, and be seen as a "gym-goer" can maybe give you more matches on Tinder. The habits we choose not only shape ourselves to ourselves, but to the world around us, as well. And the world will respond accordingly
Why in hell we have habits
Every time we need to choose something in life we pass through a cognitive process of making decisions. This process can be automatic or not. In general, instinctive feelings -- or intuitions -- are pre-programmed in our genetic code. That makes it easier, and safer, for us to choose not to put our hand in the fire, or choose to be in our comfort (and safe) zone than have a new adventure around. Our instincts try to make us alive (survivor), connected (social) and keeping the specimen safe (procreation).
All the decisions you need to make that are not directed related to our instincts pass through another process. Where our brains calculate the probability of something goes wrong, or not. And also which are the benefits and the costs involved. These decisions taking more time and energy. However, in modern life, most of our daily choices are not instinctive. Which would lead us to a
How to control it?
We have the power to build, control and destroy habits. It is not an easy thing to do. But it is completely possible. To start you need to know that:
‘YOU become responsible, forever, for the habits You Have Created’.
So, it is your whole responsibility to chose them wisely. And at the same time, you have the power to do that, and no one else can stop you.
How to create new habits
Studies have shown in the last decade, about how habits form neurologically. Every habit has three components:
1. a cue, which is like a trigger for the behaviour to start unfolding,
2. a routine, which is the habit itself, the behaviour, the automatic sort of doing what you do when you do a habit. And then at the end, there’s
3. a reward. And the reward is how our neurology learns to encode this pattern for the future.
Most people, when they think about habits, focus on the behaviour or the routine. But what we’ve learned is that it’s the cue and the reward that really determine why a habit unfolds.
The cue or trigger
The trigger is something that you do that makes you link it to another action. The cues, or triggers, are created automatically by our personal learning. So, if you do nothing about it, you would still be creating patterns from them. However, you can control it through an "if-then planning method" (also known as implementation intentions). In other words, by setting a trigger for a specific behaviour (“if […], then I will…”), you can increase the likelihood of forming a new habit out of it.
Ex: If I want to eat chocolate, then I will eat some vegetables.
The routine is whatever happens after the "then part" we just discussed. The behaviour that you have repeatedly is your routine.
There is a very interesting study about "21-days law". It says that anything that you repeat for 21 days uninterruptedly becomes a habit. So if you want to build a new one, a good idea is to stay in for at least 21 days non-stop.
This part is the most important to record a pattern in your mind. The reward will teach the body, saying "see that is why it is a good idea to do that." Rewards can be immediate or for the long-term. However, our body, and mind, don't understand the long-term ones. It is hard to feel that it is ok to be in a very restricted diet for 21 days, so you will have the perfect weight and health. We need something immediate to feel the reward. That's why is important to have a treat the connects you to your goal.
How to choose what YOU want
If you gradually implement a wide variety of good habits, they can transform your entire life. But how choose them?
First of all, it is important to discover what is your mission. Do you want to be more productive in work? Do you want to have a new idea for a creation? Do you want to solve a problem in your company? It doesn't matter. But you need to know which is the mission you are in.
The mission is not something static for your whole life, it is more like a game quest, that you aim, you conquer, and you go to the next level with another mission in mind. Although, without a mission pre-established, it is really hard to discover which is the path you need to walk through.
To think about what you want and have a clear image of it will help you to make it more tangible. The design has the power to show us what we feel and what just exists in our minds. So, design your goal. Preferable with a pencil and paper.
Of course, you can -- and should -- dream big. But our goals need to fit in your current reality. You cannot give yourself an objective or select a habit that is impossible to conquer right now. If you have a big dream cut in pieces, and walk through them.
Cuz you know... It is easier to focus yourself on step out the Shire than reach Mordor, right?
A five-step process to change your habits. Ask yourself...
...am I choosing the life I want to live? ...which are my worst and best habits? ...which one I will change first? ...what is my mission for this one? ...which is the trigger and reward I can use to make it better?
Then do that for 21 days and go to the next one!
References (each one is a Link, ok Navi?):
Duhigg, C. (2012) The Power of Habit