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The Benefits and Dangers of Habits

The Benefits and Dangers of Habits

Habit: a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

The topic of this article is particularly interesting to me because I believe that most of us really don’t consciously create our habits, and yet, they are what influence our actions and thoughts the most.

Some habits help your productivity while others lead to self-sabotage.

A productive habit could be a morning ritual of gratitude journaling, or even just drinking a glass of water when you get out of bed.

A self-sabotaging habit could be procrastinating on tasks that could be easily completed on the spot, or mindlessly eating bread when you sit down for dinner.

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Most of our thoughts and actions seem to be on autopilot.  This could be great if habits are designed proactively, but it can also harm us in the long run.

We tend to act and think based on what automatically serves our most immediate needs and what we are familiar with.  This often works against us in the long run because we get used to making unconscious (unaware) decisions.

Bringing awareness to your recurring thoughts and actions.

The very first step to change and build new habits is bringing awareness to those thoughts and actions that are repetitive—because they are gaining strength every minute.

Start by paying attention to your actions and the results of those actions.  Pay attention to what your thoughts are on a regular basis.  Thought patterns are habits too.

The more aware you are of your thoughts and actions, the more power you have to break patterns that don’t serve you and replace them with something that makes you more productive.

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Breaking and designing new habits is a result of awareness, which leads to conscious repetition, which leads to habit, which leads to hypnotic rhythm.

The Law of Hypnotic Rhythm.

The Law of Hypnotic Rhythm is when a thought or physical movement repeats itself over and over through habit to the point where it reaches permanency.

In other words, the more something is repeated, the more likely it is to get to a point where it is locked in motion.  Once something is locked in motion, it is incredibly difficult to change.

Do you have someone in your life that is set in their ways?  If so, I don’t need to tell you how challenging it is to introduce new routines to them.

The longer habits are in motion, the more power they have over you (even if you are well aware of them).

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That is why it is crucial to proactively be aware of your habits and design them intentionally and that will help you break old negative habits.

Consciously design habits that benefit you and kill those that don’t.

It’s better to add a new positive habit before trying to destroy a negative one.

Start with something small and repeat it on a regular basis.  Use your smart phone or an alarm at the same time of the day ideally.

For example, I wanted to stop checking email first thing in the morning because I found that it led me to feeling overwhelmed.  Instead, I chose to start my day with gratitude to get my mind clear and start in a place of power.  So, I set my alarm clock on my iPhone to read “Gratitude.”  I immediately started thinking of all that I was grateful for right when I woke up.  I did this first for about a month or so.  This made me feel good, and I got hooked on feeling good right when I woke up.  I noticed I felt way more control.  This habit is now locked in and I no longer feel that feeling of overwhelm in the morning.

Follow these steps to gain control over your habits.

1.  Bring awareness to any negative habits you currently hold (actions and thoughts.).

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2.  Pick something small and manageable to add to your routine that will make you feel good before trying to destroy a negative habit.

3.  Incorporate the new positive habit to take place of the habit you want to destroy.

I encourage you to share anything that has worked for you.  Please comment below.

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Published on July 22, 2019

The Secret to Success Is Failure

The Secret to Success Is Failure

You see a job that you’d love to do; and, you decide to go for it.

You submit your application, and then are pleased to find a few days later that you’re invited for an interview. This goes well, and you begin to have quiet optimism that a job offer will be coming your way soon…

It doesn’t.

Instead, you receive a letter saying thank you — but, they’ve decided to go with another candidate.

At this point, you could allow yourself to feel defeated, sad, and perhaps even a little angry. These are normal responses to bad news. Yet, it’s not wise to let them fester and disrupt your goals. Successful people don’t let failures kill their dreams.

Sure, they might temporarily feel deflated. But, very quickly, they pick themselves back up again and begin planning their next steps towards success.

How about you? Do you currently feel embarrassed or guilty about failing?

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Don’t worry if you do, as most of us have been programmed since childhood to see failure as a bad thing. Yet, as I’m going to show you in the next few minutes, this programming is dead wrong — failure is actually an essential part of success.

Don’t Be Tempted by Perfection

The first thing I want you to think about is this:

Resisting failure is, at its core, seeking perfection. And, perfection doesn’t exist.

That’s why perfectionists are also likely to be chronic procrastinators.

As Psychology Today noted in their article Pitfalls of Perfectionism, people who constantly seek for perfection stop themselves from engaging in challenging experiences.[1] That’s because these perfectionists are less creative and innovative than the average person — plus they’re less likely to take risks. Add these factors together, and you have someone who is overly focused on their own performance and is always quick to defend themselves. Unfortunately, these traits prevent them from having the necessary focus when it comes to learning new tasks.

Let me be clear: Striving for perfection is not the same as striving for excellence.

The former is a fool’s quest for the unattainable; while the latter is really just about doing our very best (which we can all obtain).

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And, there’s another problem that perfectionists have to deal with. Namely, when they fail to reach their ideal, they feel dejected and defeated. And — as you can imagine — repeat this often enough, and these people can end up feeling bitter and depressed about their lives.

So, forget about seeking perfection, and instead, focus on always doing your very best.

Why Failure Is Good

I recently came across a Forbes article Failing Your Way To Success: Why Failure Is A Crucial Ingredient For Success[2] that helped explain why most people are opposed to failure.

The article referenced the work of two world-renowned psychologists (Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky), who were awarded a Nobel Prize for their work. They discovered something very interesting: the effect of a loss is twice as great as the gain from a win.

Have you ever thought about that before?

What it means is that failure has a far greater negative impact on us than the positive impact of an equivalent win. It’s no wonder then that most people are afraid to fail.

And, here’s where it gets interesting…

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Amazon (which along with Apple, Facebook and Google, is considered one of the Big Four technology companies) has a culture that is tolerant of failure. And Jeff Bezos — Amazon’s founder and CEO — believes that this culture is one of the main reasons for the company’s big achievements over the last 25 years. In a letter to shareholders, he said:

“Failure comes part and parcel with invention. It’s not optional. We understand that and believe in failing early and iterating until we get it right.” 

The truth is, failure can open up a world of exciting opportunities for you.

How does it do this?

By constantly showing you new avenues to travel on. And, by helping you learn from your mistakes — so you can be better next time around. It also helps you identify what’s not working for your life, and what is.

So instead of seeing something as detrimental to success, you should see it as a tool FOR success. A tool that will help you to continually refine your journey in life.

If you still need some convincing that the secret to success is failure, then take a look at the following excerpts from our article 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On:

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• J.K. Rowling encountered a catalog of failures shortly after graduating from college, including: being jobless, the breakdown of her marriage, and living as a lone parent. However, instead of giving up on life, she used these failures to propel her to write the Harry Potter fantasy series — the best-selling book series in history.

• Walt Disney didn’t have an easy start either. He dropped out of school at a young age in a failed attempt to join the army. Later, one of his early business ventures, Laugh-o-Gram Studios, went bankrupt. He was also fired from a Missouri newspaper for “not being creative enough.” (Yes, you read that correctly.) Was he defeated by these failures? Just ask Mickey Mouse.

• Michael Jordan had this to say about the power of failure: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Embrace Failure, and Prepare for Success

I hope this has been an eye-opener for you.

Failure has long been branded a leper; but in reality, it’s a healthy, essential component of success.

The trick of course is to develop the mindset of a winner. Someone who sees failures as stepping stones to success — and defeats as important learning experiences.

So, are you ready to embrace your failures and take the proud road to success?

I sincerely hope so.

Featured photo credit: Bruce Mars via unsplash.com

Reference

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