Habits could easily be viewed as the core component of personal growth. They are the building blocks of our individual development, and they can span anywhere from a single day to the entirety of our life. By simply retraining our focus more towards our habits, our lives can become a dramatically different landscape of success, skill and fulfilment.
If we consider any trade, profession, craft or art form, the people that achieve success tend to have habits that serve their greater good. The painter does not just paint; he paints in a certain way. He studies his craft. He compares canvasses, brushes, paint, painters and a variety of other elements that converge in his artistic process. To paint every day is a simple, small habit, but the resulting life and lifestyle from that small habit can have a massive positive impact on a person's future.
There's a great write-up from the U.S. Navy Seals that compares habits to pathways. Rather than try to modify the path we typically travel, they instead suggest that we find a new way forward altogether. If the painter wastes his mornings on social media and other forms of digital stimulation, it is more efficient to create and develop a new habit than it is to try and break a long-term, consistent pattern.
Contrast this style of changing habits with the more common, modern approach: People try to do things slightly differently than they normally would. They keep the core of their habits intact and try to fight off the natural forces that keep them locked into their patterns. If they instead found the first sign or signs that they were about to fall into habit, they could begin to retrain an entirely new habit without having to do all of the work of dismantling the old one. It is far more efficient to simply create a new habit than destroy one and replace it; replacing it saves the effort of destroying the old one. It becomes dormant, and the new habit takes its place.
A different life does not have to be built by sudden, spontaneous changes. Creating a new and more fulfilling life can be as simple as changing a dozen small habits. For example, someone that smokes might consider smoking to be the large habit, but the mere act of smoking is comprised of many individually smaller habits. While giving up smoking all at once would require a massive shift, the small habits that allow it to exist might be quite simple to overcome. Some people smoke as a response to stress, and so if they begin to develop the habit of eliminating things that stress them, they should logically reduce their desire to smoke. If the smoker finds a dozen more of these simple, small habits to replace, there's a far stronger chance that they'll be able to overcome their addiction.
And while painters and smokers might not seem like they apply to everyone, they do. The simple building blocks of what we want to add or remove from are life are timeless: We change our habits, our routine improves and we find ourselves in a different life. For some it will take days, but for some it may take years. Both paths are far more preferable than falling victim to unhealthy habits.
About the author:
Matthew Snider is a writer, a personal development junkie and a regular blogger at Self Development Secrets. Matt, with his one quarter Asian descent, did not start out as a writer, but he says, “the love for a subject is the most important aspect of writing. The readers want to read something written by someone who understands them.”