HONEST SELF-ANALYSIS

Let's Be Honest

One of the first things a person needs to do in the quest to create new habits is to take note of the habits that already control his life. In Make That, Break That, I give a simple step-by-step plan to help people create better habits for themselves. And one of the things I do in this process is to ask the reader to make a list of the new habits he or she would like to develop over the upcoming year.

But before I ask the reader to make this list of new and helpful habits, I recommend that he (or she) compile a list of the bad habits that currently plague his life. Some of us tend to procrastinate. Others among us pay our bills late every month. Still others talk over people, become visibly impatient with people, or habitually run late for meetings or forget a person’s name minutes after meeting that individual.

Before you can make a realistic list of the new behaviors you need to hone in your life, you should take an honest appraisal of where your life stands right now. You need to know about the subconscious things that you do every day through the habitual behaviors that you have exhibited for longer than you can remember.

Unfortunately, because these detrimental behaviors are activated on a subconscious level and performed on a subconscious level, we often don’t even know that they exist. We can’t see our own bad habits. But this is where friends and family members can be very helpful.

I don’t believe in dwelling on the negative things in life, but I do believe in being honest and facing the truth. Living in denial is never a viable solution to any problem. So if you have bad habits, try to understand what they are and what drives them. Genuine change always begins with honesty.

TODAY AND TOMORROW

Purpose

I am a firm believer that the biggest problem in the Western world today is a lack of individual purpose. Without purpose, people wander aimlessly through life, wasting their time and resources. They waste their talents, they waste their opportunities, and they allow the shifting winds of popular opinion to direct them down paths in life that have nothing to do with their God-given destiny.

A vision for one’s life is the greatest thing a person can possess. With a purpose and driving motivation, a person can do just about anything his heart desires. Without a defined purpose, a person is bound to fall into all the deadly pits that lie along life’s way. People without a vision are more susceptible to addiction. People without a vision are more susceptible to instability. And people with no vision for their lives are more susceptible to all the bad habits that affect the health and relationships, the earning power and productivity of men and women everywhere who wonder why they were even born.

But when a person has a firm grasp on the reason for which he was created, that person will naturally develop the habits that he needs to fulfill his purpose in life. He (or she) will eat the right kinds of food, save the right amount of money, sleep the appropriate number of hours each night, and associate with the right kind of people to do the things that motivate him. He also will avoid those temptations that are designed to lure him away from his chosen path and to entrap him in a lifestyle that is destructive and unfulfilling.

So search your heart and know why you exist. The habits you form today will be determined by the path you choose in life, and the path you walk in life will be determined by the habits you form today.

NO ACCIDENT

A Strange Convergence

Dreams are a lot like seeds. A seed has to be planted and watered, and it has to have sunlight in order to thrive. But with time and care, a seed will eventually break through the soil into the light of day. And a seed will become a stalk or a shrub or a tree or a vine. Dreams have many of these same qualities.

A dream is a long-term goal for one’s life. And while some dreams pertain to relationships, other dreams pertain to one’s career. And while some dreams pertain to financial promotion, other dreams pertain to athletic or musical achievement. In fact, if you think about it, real life—the kind of life that is fulfilling in every way—is nothing more than the steady pursuit of those dreams that truly matter.

But dreams aren’t achieved just because we want them, and they aren’t achieved with the passage of time alone. We have no “right” to our dreams. Dreams are achieved through a strange convergence of the things we can control and the things we can’t. But all of us know that dreams are more likely to come true if we “work” those dreams the way a farmer works the soil. And if we do the work that our dreams require, they are more likely to actually happen.

This is why good habits are so important on the journey to success. It’s the little things we do every day that eventually determine whether our dreams break through the soil or whether they die in the cold, damp ground. An athlete who wants to compete in the Olympics, for instance, will watch what he eats, and a woman who wants to build her own business will rise early and stay late at the office.

So look to build those habits that will build your life. Success won’t happen by accident.

BUILDING BLOCKS

Tiny Actions

What are your goals in life? When it comes to the most important aspects of your future, what are the things you hope to achieve? In regards to your health, do you have goals, or do you simply hope that your health will last? When it comes to your finances, do you have goals, or do you simply hope that things will work themselves out? When it comes to your relationships and your dreams, do you have goals to achieve the things that intrigue you, or do you simply hope that things will fall into place for you?

If you have goals in any area of your life, you should know that you will only achieve those goals by developing the kinds of habits that will make your dreams come true. Let me give you an analogy to illustrate my point.

Your life is a precious thing, and you only get to live it once. But your life is composed of years, and your years are composed of months, and your months are composed of days. In a sense, therefore, your life is just a big collection of a whole lot of days. So the way you live all those individual days will determine the outcome of your entire life, because your days are the building blocks of your life.

In the same way, your goals are composed of a whole lot of tiny actions that you perform on a daily basis. If you have habits that compel you to perform the right kinds of actions each day, your life will be a steady journey toward your goals. But if you have habits that compete with your goals or that hinder you in the pursuit of your goals, your life will be frustrating, because your goals will never be achieved. Your habits, therefore, are the building blocks of your dreams.

THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE

Resolutions That Work

When most people think about starting a new habit, they think of New Year’s resolutions. But research indicates that 92 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. And why do they fail? They fail for two reasons.

First, they fail because people make resolutions that are too ambitious. Instead of resolving to create a new habit, they resolve to create a new goal. And goals are big things while habits are tiny things. Second, they fail because the only weapon they have at their disposal is the weapon of willpower. They are determined that they are going to start a new thing in their lives.

But while willpower can provide a good “jump start” in developing a new habit, God didn’t design us to live our lives through the power of a determined will. God created the animals to conserve their energy in the wild, and he created man to conserve his energy, too. For this reason, we are preprogrammed to take the path of least resistance in any matter pertaining to our lives.

So when a person tries to develop a new habit through self-control or through sheer determination, that plan may get him a few miles down the road. But it will never take him far enough to get him to his goal of creating something new in his life. To create a new habit, a person must utilize the God-given processes of the “habit loop,” which are based on the creation of a repetitive behavior that is prompted by some sort of “cue” and sustained by some sort of “reward.”

When we learn to harness the processes of the mind that God gave us instead of fighting them every day of our lives, we can create new habits rather easily. And a whole lot of good habits can eventually steer us toward our bigger goals.

THE "HABIT LOOP"

Triggered Rewards

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that a lot of research has been conducted on the process of habit formation. We humans develop habits quite easily, and scientists have wanted to know why. So years of research have helped psychologists discover a pattern in human behavior called the “habit loop.”

The “habit loop” works like this: The brain records the feelings that a person has whenever that person performs a certain behavior. The brain also remembers the circumstances that gave rise to that behavior. So whenever a person responds to a situation in a particular way and then has a good feeling as a result of his actions, the person’s brain records the experience. Then, the next time the person faces a similar situation, his brain remembers the action he took the last time and prompts him to take that same action again.

When a repetitive behavior produces a positive feeling each time a person performs it, that person’s brain causes him to form a habit. And that explains the “habit loop” that governs our lives. A certain “trigger” (or “cue” or “reminder”) will cause a person to perform the behavior that his brain has attached to that trigger, and then the “reward” that he experiences will reinforce that behavior in his subconscious.

This is why you perform habitual behaviors without even thinking about them. But the good news is that a person can circumvent this process to force himself to learn good habits instead of bad ones. The key is to find a “trigger” that will help you perform the behavior you want to perform and then find a “reward” that will reinforce that behavior in your life. If you do this long enough, the behavior will become permanent, and you will perform it routinely without even thinking about it. And good habits can enhance your life.

THE 90-PERCENT RULE

Repetitive Organization

One of the things I explain in Make That, Break That is that bad habits are overcome, not by trying to defeat them, but rather by “overwriting” them with better habits. Once a person understands how habits are created and then utilizes that newfound knowledge to develop the kinds of habits that he wants, that person’s bad habits will tend to fade away.

In Make That, Break That, I also delve into the different areas of life where new habits can be beneficial and where their creation can have a domino effect of giving rise to even more good habits. And one of those areas where a new habit can have an ongoing effect is in the area of organization.

Most of us are terribly disorganized. And while it would not be good for us to totally abandon those spontaneous aspects of life that make life worth living, we often create more stress for ourselves than we ought because we are disorganized in everything we do.

Just think about it! Up to 90 percent of what you do in your life is repetitive. You brush your teeth every day, you eat every day, you go to school or to work almost every day, and you go to bed every night. But while these parts of our lives are the parts we do “automatically” and without thought, the irony is that these parts of our lives are the parts that are most important, because these repetitive parts of our lives are the parts that affect all the other parts.

It is vital, therefore, that we forge good habits of organization. It is vital that we create habitual behaviors in the repetitive parts of our lives so the non-repetitive parts can be more productive and more fulfilling. Wise is the person who maximizes his health and happiness by minimizing his stress.

© Dave Martin International. All rights reserved. Site by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Follow Dave —