It’s the Small Things That Can Save Your Life – This is One

Create good habits and routines. It could save your life. At least it has the power to improve it.

Daily Habits and Routines

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Will Durant

Running on Autopilot

Most of what we do is on autopilot. From the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep so much of our actions are habitual. Have you ever arrived home after driving a familiar route and not even remember the entire drive? We all have.

Habit can be and is a great ally in our lives. It frees our minds of mundane repetitive tasks. Think of habit as automation. Once you have completed an act enough times your mind begins to operate without conscious thought which frees up your conscious mind to do other things.

Do you think about tying your shoes anymore? Which pant leg do you put on first? 

Habit performs so many functions throughout your day it’s almost like our conscious minds are riding atop an automated robot who is tasked to deal with the repetitive and mundane.

The Trouble with Autopilot

On the other hand, habit can hinder our success. If we have developed unproductive habits then our minds are doing things without conscious thought and it is harming us. Imagine an automation tool working in the background on your computer but it was always working against you and sabotaging your progress.

That is what bad habits are doing. They work in the background of your mind sabotaging your success. Even when you give them conscious thought it’s rarely easy to change a habit, no matter how small.

Most of our habits are so deeply ingrained into our minds that even when we want to change them we feel powerless to do so. Ask any smoker. I struggled to quit dipping even though I knew it was horrible, nasty and it would leave me without a freaking lip! Yet, my mind worked hard to keep it going.

Habits and Routines

Habit and routine work in tandem. Put a smattering of habits together and you have a routine. What is your routine like? Has it just developed over time without thought or have you crafted a routine that gets the most out of your day?

Becoming unreasonably positive is very desirable if you want to be a great at whatever you do. Creating that kind of positive mindset begins with crafting habits and routines to reinforce the positive and to clear out the old and negative.

We can use habit and routine to our advantage but it’s not easy purging the old from our lives. Most things worth doing aren’t easy.  In fact, it’s difficult enough that most experts suggest only changing one habit at a time because trying more than that will most likely end in failure.

Change a Habit

There is at least one thing in each of our lives that we would like to stop or start doing. Some popular examples are going to the gym, eating healthier, stop smoking, watching less TV, and the list goes on. Perhaps you have just one habit you want to change. What better time than now?

Take Action

Find one habit in your daily routine you want to change. Give it some serious thought. Find out what triggers the habit. What is the cue that puts the habit in motion? Define the routine you go through that defines the habit. Finally, figure out what reward you receive for performing the habit.

For example, I used to dip chewing tobacco. Disgusting, I know. But it was a strong habit. One of the cues which triggered my craving was eating lunch. After I had lunch I felt a strong urge to dip. I was antsy and felt tension before I satisfied my craving. The reward I received was the nicotine. Each one of our habits can be broken down and defined in this manner. Once you understand it you can begin to change it.

Find the habit you want to change and tinker with the parts. Eliminate the cue if possible. If not, substitute an alternate routine. If you smoke then try a short burst of exercise when you feel the urge to smoke. Altering habits is not easy – it’s hard. Don’t be discouraged if you fail or falter. Just know that the more you replace the old habit with a new behavior the easier it will get.

Stay the course and remember why you are doing it. Write it down every morning. Write down why you are doing it and how you are changing it. It is going to take about 60 days to embed a new habit. Forget the old figures, such as 21 or 30 days. Give yourself 60 days to create a new habit.

We all need support. If you know someone who could benefit from these tips, please share it.