Today we’re going to discuss one very powerful word: habit. The word itself sounds simple and innocent enough, but when we dig deeper, we realize that this one word possesses the power to make or break us in our quest for excellence and victory. Webster’s describes the ferocious little word as “a regularly repeated behavior pattern; an action or pattern of behavior that is repeated so often that it becomes typical of somebody, although he or she may be unaware of it.” So, whether we become a champion or a disappointment to ourselves all depends on the habits we create. Remember, champions are driven by their dream, but created by their routine. What is a routine? A habitual pattern of activity, what we do day in and day out, every single day, without even stopping to think about what we’re doing. Why don’t we stop to think about them? Because habits allow for autopilot. Routines are created from habits…those moment by moment, consistent, repeated choices that determine our future.
How can something as seemingly unnoticeable and insignificant as how we routinely approach our day determine who we become in this world? Because to have a good year, you must have good months, good months come from good weeks, good weeks are built from good days, and good days are created from the moment by moment decisions you make. This widely known poem (author unknown) puts it perfectly:
I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest helper or
I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.
I am completely at your command.
I am easily managed – you must be
firm with me.
Show me exactly how you want something done and after a few lessons, I will do it automatically.
I am the servant of great people, and
alas, of all failures as well.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine though I work with the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a person.
You may run me for profit or run me for ruin – it makes no difference to me.
Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet.
Be easy with me and I will destroy you.
Who am I? I am Habit.
Go back and read the poem again. Can you see why, based on the habitual choices we make, our daily schedule is a clear prophecy of our future? “You are what you eat”, “As a man thinketh”, and “What you talk about, you bring about” are all very popular phrases that reinforce this truth. Both success and failure are result of habit. So, we must be willing to form new victory-developing habits in place of our old mediocrity-perpetuating habits. But I feel that I should pass along some warnings to help you prepare for this journey.
Please print these (or better yet, copy them down in your own handwriting) and place them in a very obnoxiously visible place in your home, car, or office (better yet, post them EVERYWHERE!):
- Very quickly after you set any big goal, your excitement will fade, and the newness of the commitment will wear off. At that point, you will be forced to make the right decisions, the disciplined decisions, void of all emotion and hooplah, to keep marching ahead with your new choices, even when you don’t feel like being motivated.
- As one of my dear friends says, “The reason most people fail instead of succeed is because they trade what they want most for what they want in the moment.” We must think big picture.
- In those moments of weariness, weakness, and frustration, you must be willing to recommit and find a way to refill your cup with energy, enthusiasm, hunger, drive, and desire for your finish line. Instead of letting your sabotaging self-talk defeat you, get out of your own head and plug into someone or something that will inspire you to make the right choice. Read a motivational book, listen to an inspiring CD, or call a strong mentor.
- Also: remember that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. If you print this entire article and reread it first thing each morning, it may help you set the tone of your day with fresh commitment as opposed to slipping into reactionary mode due to improper planning. It’s much easier to manage your commitment levels ahead of time than to correct them after you’ve slipped.
- But even when you do slip, remember:
- You can choose to start eating healthy even in the middle of a bag of potato chips.
- You can start to make smart money choices even as your credit cards are being closed out.
- You can get up to work on your dreams even after you’ve plopped down on the couch and flipped on the TV.
- You can get out of bed to start your day off right even though you’d prefer to hit the snooze button again.
So this week, as you embrace the awkward, uncomfortable, go-against-the-grain, swimming upstream, muster-every-fiber-of-resolve-in-your-body process of changing your habits, remember that 1) you are not alone, and 2) your commitments will be worth it.
Keep Digging Deeper with me,