Your Best Habit

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Hard to Change Habits
  • Checking social media and email every few minutes although it’s inhibiting your productivity.
  • Checking email first thing in the morning when you’ve said that you wanted to stop.
  • Unintentional use of profanity.
  • Continuously failing to check the fuel guage in your car until  the reminder light comes on.
  • Paying your bills late.
  • Not sticking to your budget.
  • The staple grocery items that you buy..
  • The route you take to walk the dog.
  • The route you take to drive to the grocery store, your job, and other places you frequent.
  • The way you take your coffee.
  • The time you regularly go to bed or get up.
  • Whether you regularly run late in the mornings.
  • Choosing Coke over Pepsi
  • Whether you sit in your car or get out immediately after arriving at your destination
  • Whether you kiss your partner goodbye when you leave the house everyday (or when you enter the home at the end of the day)

So, we all know what habits are, right? They are the things that we do so often that we often do them without thinking. What’s more is that our brain is always trying put our habits on auto-pilot because autopilot habits require less energy. I’m totally serious. The brain works like people: it prefers to do things that aren’t exhausting. The stuff that we can do without thinking is the stuff we do most often because it isn’t as tiring as the things that we have to carefully think about. In the brain world, making conscious decisions burns more fuel.


The thing about habits is that they either help us or hurt us. They either help you do more of the things that you need and want to do or they frustrate you because you see how they prevent you from doing the things you need or want to do. Habits work this way because they take time, and in some cases, money and other resources. What’s more is that the time and resources spent on habits are usually not consciously accounted for because we engage in them without thinking about them. When you drive to and from the grocery store, you usually take the same routes or very similar routes……….BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT. YOU DON’T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT IT.  YOU KNOW THE ROUTE WILL TAKE YOU 15 MINUTES. On the other hand, think about how often you get lost in scrolling on social media. You lose tons of time doing that because you don’t have a habit of limiting your social media time. What’s more is that every time you scroll for an unlimited amount of time, your brain deepens the pattern, or habit rut, that makes it okay for you to spend even more time doing it. Essentially, your social media time will increase without you noticing it until it starts to create a serious problem for you, i.e., you’re not getting your work done which turns into problems with your team at work.  


Your most significant habits are called “defining habits”. You do them so much that, “it’s just you being you.” Significance refers to how much time is spent on that habit, including building your life around making space for it. To help you think about it, here is my key defining habit: running. I’m so into running that I spend money on running shoes and gear, even when it’s unbudgeted. I have set my bedtime so that I can get up and go running. I avoid morning commitments whenever possible so that I don’t have rush my run. If I have to travel to meetings that end between 4pm – 5:30pm, I look for a running trail instead of sitting in traffic. 


Soooooooooooooooooo, what are your defining habits? What things frame your life? Another way to think about it is this: which of your habits is your go-to to make you feel better? What do you do when you are bored and just find yourself indulging a particular behavior? On the other hand, “what’s your thing?” What do you keep investing time and energy into, perhaps like a light obsession? Maybe you spend some much time on it that people associate you with it. And the more you do it, the more committed to it you become. Now, ask yourself this question: do you want to be defined by your key habit? Do your defining habits help you to be live as the person you really want to be? You might not be a runner, but what you do most often does define you.

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