Studies indicate that you and I operate purely by habit 45% of the time. Our minds are adapted to conserve energy and therefore habit is an important energy-conserving mechanism.
Although will-power is an important part of success, studies indicate that it’s akin to a muscle – it can get significantly stronger but it has limited endurance, even in the best of us.
Therefore our ultimate success requires will-power used at the right times, on the right things, and otherwise establishing habits that empower forward movement.
The most important habits are what the author calls “Keystone Habits”.
A keystone habit changes other habits in a person, or organization. For example, people who begin an exercise program also tend to establish other positive habits – AUTOMATICALLY – as a result. They eat less, eat better, smoke/drink less, and generally take better care of themselves as a result of the keystone habit.
Of course, not all keystone habits lead us in a positive direction. The reason I’ve started turning the Internet off 4 hours per day is because I have identified web surfing as a keystone habit that often destroys my productivity.
It’s never my intention to click a link, then another and another and end up in some pointless debate about nothing I have the power to change. But it happens, and that leads to a number of other debilitating behaviors that diminish quality of life.
The startling thing about habit is that once a habit has been established in our neuro-pathways it’s a habitual pattern for life. Smokers who have quit are beyond the physical addiction in about 100 hours, but because that neuro-pathway is so ingrained they never entirely lose the urge.
The good news is that studies have pinpointed that habits are the result of three components – a cue, the routine, and a reward. And it’s possible to replace a bad habit with a good one by keeping the cue and the reward, but establishing a new routine.
Image taken from Get the Picture
For example, when I set down to my computer that’s a cue that launches me into an automatic routine. You and I will always launch into a routine, that also has a third part – the reward.
To change a habit, keep the cue and the reward but change the routine. Instead of checking email, I’m writing this. I’m changing a reactive-based habit into a proactive one.
When I got up this morning, I had a couple sips of coffee (Bulletproof) then hopped on the treadmill, listened to 20-minutes of audio on writing copy while walking briskly, then did a light weight workout. I arrive at work feeling great – relaxed, thoughtful and invigorated.
The Power of Habit is book one because I cannot think of anything more important than controlling the habits that run my life.
Plus, there’s some amazing insight into how we can help our customers and employees by establishing a culture of positive habit that helps lead all of us forward.
Identifying this cue-routine-reward loop isn’t always clear or easy. Start by identifying a routine you want to replace. What do you choose to do differently?
Maybe you like to go to Facebook, but the current habit is scrolling through your friends generally worthless posts (sorry man, it’s true!). What if, instead, you went to Facebook but proactively began initiating business conversations with people you’d like a working relationship with? One-to-one and direct.
( FACT: No matter who you are you have a network of connections that could help you – and them – become millionaires within a year if you saw the potential of the network. Am I wrong? If I am, you need better friends . . . though, of course, money IS NOT everything but I hope you get catch my drift. A change in Facebook routine could transform it from a time waster to a life changer. 🙂 )
Then it’s a process of identifying the cue that launches the routine – sitting at the computer, feeling stress, a desire for social interaction, a time of day.
The cue will happen, but the key is to have a plan for inserting the new routine. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes for you.
To you, all the best – John