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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 March 31, 2020

How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

How often do you find yourself procrastinating? Do you wish you could procrastinate less? We all know how debilitating procrastination can make us feel, and it seems to be a challenge we all share. Procrastination is one of the biggest hindrances to moving forward and doing the things that we want to in life.

There are many reasons why you might be procrastinating, and sometimes, it is really difficult to pinpoint why. You might be procrastinating because of something related to the past, present, or future (they are all intertwined), or it could be as simple as biological factors. Whatever the reason, most of us follow a cycle when we procrastinate, from the moment we decide to do something to actually getting it done, or in this case, not getting it done.

The Vicious Procrastination Cycle

For some reason, it helps to understand that we all go through the same thing, even though we often feel like the only person in the world who struggles with this. Do you resonate with the cycle below?

1. Feeling Eager and Energized

This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it!

2. Apprehension Starts to Come Up

The beginning stages of optimism are starting to fade. There is still time, but you haven’t done anything yet, and you start to feel uneasy. You realize that you actually have to do something to get it done, and that good intentions are not enough.

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3. Still No Action

More time has passed. You still haven’t taken any action and probably have a lot of excuses why. You start to panic a little and wish you had started sooner. Your panic starts to turn into frustration and perhaps even irritability.

4. Flicker of Hope Left

You can still make it; there is a little time left and you ponder how you are going to get it done. The rush you get from leaving your task until the last minute gives you a flicker of hope. There is still time; you can do this!

5. Fading Quickly

Your hope starts to quickly fade as you try desperately to understand why you just can’t do this. You may feel desperate and have thoughts like, “What is wrong with me?” and “Why do I ALWAYS do this?” You feel discouraged, or perhaps angry and resentful at yourself.

6. Vow to Yourself

Once the feeling of anger or disappointment disappears, you most likely swear to yourself that this will never happen again; that this was the last time and next time will be different.

Does this sound like you? Is the next time different? I understand the devastating effect that procrastination has on many lives, and for some, it is a really serious problem. You also have, on the other hand, those who procrastinate but it doesn’t affect them in any way. You know whether it is affecting you or not and whether it undermines your results.

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How to Break the Procrastination Cycle

Unless you break the cycle, you will keep reinforcing it!

To break the cycle, you need to change the sequence of events. Here is my suggestion on how you can effectively break the vicious cycle you are in!

1. Feeling Eager and Energized

This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it! The first stage is always the same.

2. Plan

Thinking alone will not help; you need to plan your actions. I always put my deadlines one or two days in advance because you know Murphy’s Law! Take into consideration everything that you need to do, how long it will take you, and what you will need to get it done, then plan the individual steps.

3. Resistance

Just because you planned doesn’t mean that this time is guaranteed to be different. You will most likely still feel the resistance so expect this. This stage is key to identifying why you are procrastinating, so when you feel the resistance, try to identify it immediately.

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What is causing you to hesitate in this moment? What do you feel?  Write them down if it helps.

4. Confront Those Feelings

Once you have identified what could possibly be holding you back, for example, fear of failure, lack of motivation, etc. You need to work on lessening the resistance.

Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to move forward? What would make it easier?” If you find that you fear something, overcoming that fear is not something that will happen overnight — keep this in mind.

5. Put Results Before Comfort

You need to keep moving forward and put results before comfort. Take action, even if it is only for 10 minutes. The key is to break the cycle and not reinforce it. You have more control that you think.

6. Repeat

Repeat steps 3-5 until you achieve what you first set out to do.

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Final Thoughts

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and if you have some deeper underlying reasons why you procrastinate, it may take longer to finally break the cycle.

If procrastination is holding you back in life, it is better to deal with it now than to deal with the negative consequences later on. It is not a question of comfort anymore; it is a question of results. What is more important to you?

Learn more about how to stop procrastinating here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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