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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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Last Updated on November 12, 2020

15 Reasons Why You Can’t Achieve Your Goals

15 Reasons Why You Can’t Achieve Your Goals

The truth about many of our failed goals is that we haven’t achieved them because we didn’t know how to set and accomplish goals effectively, rather than having not had enough willpower, determination, or fortitude. There are strings of mistakes standing in our way of accomplished goals. Fortunately for us, we don’t have to fall victim to these mistakes for 2015. There are many common mistakes we make with setting goals, but there are also surefire ways to fix them too.

Goal Setting

1. You make your goals too vague.

Instead of having a vague goal of “going to the gym,” make your goals specific—something like, “run a mile around the indoor track each morning.”

2. You have no way of knowing where you are with your goals.

It’s hard to recognize where you are at reaching your goal if you have no way of measuring where you are with it. Instead, make your goal measurable with questions such as, “how much?” or “how many?” This way, you always know where you stand with your goals.

3. You make your goals impossible to reach.

If it’s impossible of reaching, you’re simply not going to reach for it. Sometimes, our past behavior can predict our future behavior, which means if you have no sign of changing a behavior within a week, don’t set a goal that wants to accomplish that. While you can do many things you set your mind to, it’ll be much easier if you realize your capabilities, and judge your goals from there.

4. You only list your long-term goals.

Long-term goals tend to fizzle out because we’re stuck on the larger view rather than what we need to accomplish in the here and now to get there. Instead, list out all the short-term goals involved with your long-term goal. For instance, if you want to seek a publisher for a book you’ve written, your short-term goals might involve your marketing your writing and writing for more magazines in order to accomplished your goal of publishing. By listing out the short-term goals involved with your long-term goal, you’ll focus more on doing what’s in front of you.

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5. You write your goals as negative statements.

It’s hard to reach a goal that’s worded as, “don’t fall into this stupid trap.” That’s not inspiring, and when you’re first starting out, you need inspiration to stay committed to your goal. Instead, make your goals positive statements, such as, “Be a friend who says yes more” rather than, “Stop being an idiot to your friends.”

6. You leave your goals in your head.

Don’t keep your goals stuck in your head. Write them down somewhere and keep them visible. It’s a way making your goals real and holding yourself accountable for achieving them.

Achieving Goals

7. You only focus on achieving one goal at a time, and you struggle each time.

In order to keep achieving your goals, one right after the others, you need to build the healthy habits to do so. For instance, if you want to write a book, developing a habit of writing each morning. If you want to lose weight and eventually run a marathon, develop a habit of running each morning. Focus on buildign habits, and your other goals in the future will come easier.

Studies show that it takes about 66 days on average to change or develop a habit.[1] If you focus on forming one habit every 66 days, that’ll get you closer to accomplishing your goals, and you’ll also build the capability to achieve more and more goals later on with the help of your newly formed habits.

8. You live in an environment that doesn’t support your goals.

Gary Keller and Jay Papasan in their book, The One Thing, state that environments are made up of people and places. They state that these two factors must line up to support your goals. Otherwise, they would cause friction to your goals. So make sure the people who surround you and your location both add something to your goals rather than take away from them.

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9. You get stuck on the end result with your goals.

James Clear brilliantly suggests that our focus should be on the systems we implement to reach our goals rather than the actual end result. For instance, if you’re trying to be healthier with your diet, focus more on sticking to your diet plan rather than on your desired end result. It’ll keep you more concentrated on what’s right in front of you rather than what’s up in the sky.

Keeping Motivated

10. You get discouraged with your mess-ups.

When I wake up each morning, I focus all my effort in building a small-win for myself. Why? Because we need confidence and momentum if we want to keep plowing through the obstacles of accomplishing our goals. Starting my day with small wins helps me forget what mess-ups I had yesterday, and be able to reset.

Your win can be as small as getting out of bed to writing a paragraph in your book. Whatever the case may be, highlight the victories when they come along, and don’t pay much attention to whatever mess-ups happened yesterday.

11. You downplay your wins.

When a win comes along, don’t downplay it or be too humble about it. Instead, make it a big deal. Celebrate each time you get closer to your goal with either a party or quality time doing what you love.

12. You get discouraged by all the work you have to do for your goals.

What happens when you focus on everything that’s in front of you is that you can lose sight of the big picture—what you’re actually doing this for and why you want to achieve it. By learning how to filter the big picture through your every day small goals, you’ll be able to keep your motivation for the long haul. Never let go of the big picture.

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13. You waste your downtime.

When I take a break, I usually fill my downtime with activities that further me toward my goals. For instance, I listen to podcasts about writing or entrepreneurship during my lunch times. This keeps my mind focused on the goal, and also utilizes my downtime with motivation to keep trying for my goals.

Wondering what you can do during your downtime? Here’re 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time.

14. You have no system of accountability.

If you announce your goal publicly, or promise to offer something to people, those people suddenly depend on your accomplishment. They are suddenly concerned for your goals, and help make sure you achieve them. Don’t see this as a burden. Instead, use it to fuel your hard work. Have people depend on you and you’ll be motivated to not let them down.

15. You fall victim to all your negative behaviors you’re trying to avoid with your goals.

Instead of making a “to-do” list, make a list of all the behaviors, patterns, and thinking you need to avoid if you ever want to reach your goal. For instance, you might want to chart down, “avoid Netflix” or “don’t think negatively about my capability.” By doing this, you’ll have a visible reminder of all the behavior you need to avoid in order to accomplish your goals. But make sure you balance this list out with your goals listed as positive statements.

How To Stop Failing Your Goal?

If you want to stop failing your goal and finally reach it, don’t miss these actionable tips explained by Jade in this episode of The Lifehack Show:

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Bottom Line

Overcoming our mistakes is the first step to building healthy systems for our goals. If you find one of these cogs jamming the gears to your goal-setting system, I hope you follow these solutions to keep your system healthy and able to churn out more goals.

Make this year where you finally achieve what you’ve only dreamed of.

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Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

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