224. Habits; can’t live without them.

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Last week I invited you to begin paying attention to and counting your habits.

I pointed out that many of you will be surprised at the tally and, indeed, you were.

Over the last week, I heard from many who were anxious to chat about how this exercise has opened their eyes to the degree to which their lives are governed every day by habits, many of which they were completely unaware of.

My experience has taught me this is true for us all. So deeply ingrained and entrenched are many of our habits, and so automatically and unconsciously do we deploy them, that we are oblivious to their presence and are equally unaware of the impact they have on our lives.

I hinted last week that many would not be surprised to discover and become aware of more than 50 habits. The “winner” was Christine who indicated she had listed more than 200 and was still discovering more.

Dictionary.com defines a habit as an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary:

By this definition, I’m sure Christine is not alone in reaching a count of over 200 and I expect over the coming weeks to hear from more people reporting that they too have listed habits totaling in the hundreds.

Someone else asked why I felt it necessary to encourage readers to tally their habits. It certainly isn’t necessary, however as we go through this exercise and see the number growing larger and larger, it helps us realize how habit-bound we are.

The question at hand is not how many habits we have, but rather how much value, or distress they bring into our lives.

We acquire habits in two different ways: by design or by default. It is safe to state that the majority are by default. They chose us.

There is great value in recognizing and listing our habits, as a quick glance through the list will tell us which we need to keep and which we should replace.

A long-held guiding principle tells us we can’t fix what we don’t acknowledge. Which explains why acknowledging those habits that are moving us away from where we want to be is the first step so we can take the necessary steps to design the habits we want to replace them with.

If you haven’t yet begun this exercise, begin right away. You will find this to be one of the most interesting and revealing exercises in self-discovery you have ever undertaken. You will very quickly come to realize why long-term, beneficial, sustainable change will only take place can only happen when we design and adopt powerful, empowering new habits to replace the ones that have caused the very results we wish to change.

Let me repeat, change doesn’t come about by introducing new behaviours, it comes about by creating the habits that sustain those behaviours in the long term.

As a Habits Coach, I have witnessed the truthfulness of this statement far too often to doubt it.

So go ahead, list ‘em, count’ em and then call me and let’s talk about ‘em.

I can’t wait to hear from you.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

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