Habit: An Internalized Plan
How do we form habits? With practice; with repeated and consistent effort and action. The goal of a habit is to make something second nature. This is not something that happens over night. Let's reflect on this idea with an example.
Let's say you're new to cooking. You've never done it before and you've never watched anyone cook before. You have NO idea what you're doing. Are you going to be able to step into a kitchen, feel comfortable and confident, and pull off a master chef quality dish? Most likely not. So where do you start? Someone might start with going to cooking classes, watching a friend cook, cooking with a friend and then move on to following a recipe themselves. This is only the beginning and each person's process from beginner to someone more advanced is determined by their goals and their skill sets. Someone might only want to get to the stage of being able to follow a recipe on their own. Someone else might find they've found a new passion in cooking and want to explore flavour combinations themselves and create their own recipes or modifications of one's they've made in the past. Someone might fall in love with cooking so much that they want it to become their life and be a professional chef.
Each person's cooking habits are going to be based on their goals and their experiences. In each different scenario above the person has formed habits that has made them successful to the point of where they wanted to reach. Each person began by taking action towards learning cooking and, in doing so, formed new habits but they also each internalized a plan, a group of habits, to where they wanted to get to. If we look at each of the 3 people mentioned above at the beginning and two years later they will have each formed different habits and routines. They will have internalized a plan that works for them on how they like to cook, whether casually or professionally. They may have had the same starting point, however, in the two years since beginning they've each reached very different places.
Forming new habits can seem like a daunting task. I believe that, at times, there can be too much emphasis on what not to do or what to avoid rather than what to do. Said another way, I believe in the importance of focusing on things that you want to add to your life not on things you want to get rid of from your life. Celebrate your successes but don't beat yourself up over lapses or mistakes you've made or make.
For example, some people may say, "I'm going to start eating healthy and not eat chips, drink pop, snack late at night, etc." or "I'm going to lose 10 pounds and not eat any junk food or snack late at night". Instead of focusing your attention on what you're going to SUBTRACT from your life, focus on what you're going to ADD to your life. What are some things that can lead to a healthier lifestyle or to losing weight? There are countless options. Focus on which of those activities you're going to ADD to your life and celebrate when you make those additions. Over time, you will crowd out the habits you've wanted to rid yourself of not by stopping yourself from doing them but by adding things that are going to help you in achieving your goals.
1. Make a plan
2. Start taking small steps by adding successful actions/habits to your day
3. Don't be critical of yourself
4. Be patient
5. But be consistent with your effort and action.
As Always, Strive To Optimize!