Let me share this idea with you first. Research in behavioural psychology says that 45% of our waking behaviour is habitual! Think about it, half of the time we do what we do not because we thought about it and made a decision to act, but simply because we’ve always done it this way. The same applies to thinking, if we let our mind head a particular direction, every time a similar situation happens – we would repeat the same thought process until eventually, it becomes our default thinking pattern. Repeated over and over again those patterns turn into beliefs we hold about nearly everything, our life, our purpose and role in the world, about other people, our society, and so on.
So, it’s fair to say that our habits shape our future, i.e. the results we get in life, whether we like them or not. And “thinking” patterns (i.e. your beliefs) have a more profound impact on your life than any other “bad” habits.
Consequently, applying this knowledge, to change your life, you need to change your habits, action-based, and thought-based alike. Easier said than done, right?
Let’s look at 5 steps that can help you do just that and get anything you want from life:
Before you attempt to move forward, you need to figure out where you are right now. As I mentioned above, everything that you experience in life right now is the direct result of your habitual behaviour. So, if you are unhappy with anything, ask yourself – What have I been doing that created this result in my life? I.e. what are your habits that are causing this situation? For example, worrying about everything when there is no need for it, long-term might cause you to miss out on a lot of opportunities in life. “Being worried” is a habitual state many people go into because it seems like the only thing to do in a difficult situation with an unpredictable result. Having done this many times, we simply get used to it.
Once you’ve identified what behaviours, habits, and thinking patterns cause you to have a life you live right now, you can move on to the second step.
2. Defining the change you want to see
You need to be clear about what you want to achieve, essentially defining your goals in that area of life which concerns you right now. Maybe you are unhappy in your job, so your goal would be to find a new one. Or perhaps you are single and would like to meet a life partner. Whatever it might be for you, your behaviour is in some way preventing you from having this result right now. So you need to make a decision to transition from a position of being stuck in your unhappiness to the ‘I am going to do something about it’ state of mind.
3. Make it feasible
Break these goals into small steps. Think about what steps (in other words habits) could bring you the result you want. If you want to change your job, maybe checking job websites or sending an inquiry to a recruitment agency or reaching out to someone in your network. Taking such small steps weekly or daily will inevitably produce a result you are aiming for. Maybe developing a new skill or gaining more knowledge in your area of expertise would increase your chances of finding a better job, so it would be a good habit to add an hour of reading/researching into your daily routine.
In the case of ‘thinking’ habits, like worrying, you might want to train your brain to spot a moment you go down a negative thinking spiral and let those thoughts go. It won’t happen instantly but is achievable with regular practice.
Think of any other habits that could contribute to the result you desire. Maybe waking up earlier, or joining a running club to stop skipping your workouts or limiting your social media usage to stop procrastinating with important tasks. The possibilities are endless.
4. Create a plan
How exactly are you going to implement these new habits into your life? The simpler you make it for yourself, the easier it would be to follow the plan. It could be as simple as preparing your running gear in the evening, so there is less resistance in the morning when you actually need to go for a run.
Getting a habit tracker might be a good idea, as it helps you see your progress and be motivated to keep going. Also, it creates extra clarity on what, when, and how you are supposed to perform those steps and gives you the pleasure of ticking the box once done.
And of course, the most important, you need to be prepared to put the work in. Taking one step at the time, replacing an old habit with a new one. And little by little you won’t notice how change is starting to happen. You might start getting more interviews for that new job, or feeling calmer when an unforeseen situation arises or running becomes your second nature.
They say – practice makes perfect. Well, perfect or not – repetition definitely creates a habit. And if your habits are the foundation for a greater future, why not give it a go.