“Successful people are simply those with successful habits.”
To be successful, you need to be in charge of both your time and habits. Chores need to be done but we also need fun and relaxation.
In my recent post, Are Your Habits Sabotaging Your Efforts? you kept a record of how you spent your time each day for a week.
Last week, in Take Charge of Your Time – Take Charge of Your Life, you re-examined the log you kept, and formulated a workable structure for how you spent your time each day.
This week’s post will help you understand how habits are created and reinforced.
It has been said that over 40% of our actions each day are habits. If so, much of our day is on autopilot, and it behooves us to look carefully at our habits to discover which are working for us and which are working against us.
This is especially important as you prepare to make new goals for the future. Successful goals rely on habits that keep you on track.
“Once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom and the responsibility to remake them.”
As you reflect on the goals you have made in the past, why were some never completed while others were? What made the difference?
Taking charge of your time and your life requires not only being aware of your current habits, but knowing how to replace habits that aren’t working. Taking charge means putting in place a new time management schedule that meets your purposes and goals.
It will require self-regulation and self-discipline. The word “discipline” often triggers a negative response based on our childhood interpretation of discipline. But now it is a positive tool allowing you to do the things you want to do.
Self-regulation doesn’t mean every moment is regulated in some way or that we lead a regimented life with no pleasure or down times. In fact, when you put a time management plan in place, you will find you have more time than you did before. You are able to schedule in fun and pleasant times as well as the accomplishment of tasks and chores.
As I mentioned in my previous post, habits affect everything we do. They are behaviors we keep in place because we get a benefit in some way.
But habits and behaviors have consequences. They might make us feel good in the moment but have a negative long-term cost.
To make habits work for you, it is important to know which ones keep you from maximizing your time and efforts.
For example, you may decide that this is a good time for you to go back to school and get an advanced degree or training. Before you do, it is helpful to know how you currently use your time and what you do on a regular basis.
- What wasted time can be redirected?
- What current habits would interfere with completing your course work?
We are creatures of habit. Habits are great because we don’t have to think about every move we make. It’s like being on auto pilot. But they can also keep us from achieving what we want in life.
We need to be aware of the habits that can help or hinder us. The next three posts will focus on understanding our habits and learning how we can replace them.
How did we choose the habits we have and what keeps them in place?
Connected to habits are behaviors of some kind. Behaviors continue because we get a payoff or reward that motivates us to keep doing what we are doing.
As behaviors are reinforced, they are repeated and soon become habitual. That reward comes either in the form of receiving something positive or removal of something we don’t want.
While it might be difficult to grasp the concept that setbacks can be one of our greatest life opportunities, it is when we are forced by circumstances to stop and evaluate that we can reflect, examine, and discover what works and get rid of what hinders our progress.
When we know what isn’t working, we can replace it with a new program that gives us the tools to succeed.
How do we start over when we feel there are no solutions to our problems?
When we get knocked down, we not only get discouraged, but waste our creative energy striking out or blaming others for our difficulties or distress. Remaining in that mindset takes away our personal power, and as we learned in the post on forgiveness, we can remain in a never-ending toxic cycle of bitterness and anger. Our focus remains on what we can’t do and not on what we can do.