We intrinsically know and realize the importance of habits in our daily life. However, why, would be an entirely different matter all together. Before we begin it is important that we define what a habit is?
What is a habit?
To put it simply, Habit is any behavior that has been repeated enough times that the said behavior is performed autonomously with little to no effort. Most of us would classify habits into good and bad. However, there is no such thing as good habits… or bad habits, only the habits that persist.
Concentration and attention is a limited resource. Hence, the brain prefers to utilize these resources where it is necessary. More a behavior is repeated the more the neural pathways related to the said behavior are reinforced.
For example let’s consider driving a car. For those who drive a car might remember the times as a beginner driver. You would have to calculate many tings… for instance when to turn the steering wheel? How much to turn the steering wheel? How much acceleration? How much brake to apply? And so on. But as the time and kilometers passed by these tasks became autonomous. The brain has delegated these to the subconscious to free the conscious. You might say that driving became habitual.
Similarly, to build a habit frequency and repetition is essential. The more you repeat a habit the better you become.
Compound Interest and Habits
Now, that we have established what a habit is. We shall explore how habits are a driving force in your life.
“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to success is found in your daily routine” ~ John C Maxwell
In his books Atomic habits the author James Clear outlines that it is the small changes that matter and build you up to success. Clear suggests trying to improve by 1 % daily. At start these small changes seem to be insignificant, but these aggregate over the time deliver break-through results. Since the results of our habits are delayed, this is the reason that we fall into unwanted or unhealthy habits.
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn't, pays it” ~ Albert Einstein
Power of Systems
In his book Atomic Habits. James Clear suggests that goals are limiting and we often do not think what to do once we have achieved the set goal. Furthermore, both successful and unsuccessful people have same or similar goals. However, only a select few would ever achieve them. Clear believes that the reason for this is that only a few people have the correct systems in place that help them to achieve the goal.
Essentially, Goals are focused on results. But, it is the system focuses upon establishing processes that lead to the goal.
Upgrade your Identity
To create a lasting and impactful change it is essential that we upgrade our identity based upon our desired outcome, rather than focusing on what we would like to achieve.
True behavior change is engrained in a changed identity. The ultimate aim of any habit is to create that identity change. This change occurs at three levels
1. Outcome Driven: Changing your results or achievement based. E.g. to write a book. Any goal that you set are sent at this level.
2. Systems or Processes: Changing your habits or setting the right processes. E.g. to do the required work consistently, proper bookkeeping. The habits are built at this level.
3. Identity: Changing your beliefs. E.g. you existing beliefs about businesses, work, money. Most of your assumptions, beliefs and biases exist at this level.
Clear, J. (2018). Atomic habits: tiny changes, remarkable results : an easy & proven way to build good habits & break bad ones. New York, New York, Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House.