OUTLOOK ON Resolutions & Revolutions
Our Lives Reflect Our Habits- The Effects of Accumulation
Do you collect things? A collection starts out with one or two items and builds over time. Whether it’s collecting t-shits, Transformers or rocks, the more you add to your collection the larger it becomes. The accumulation of items expands and starts to represent you in a way. You become the guy or gal who loves band t’s or heart-shaped rocks and everyone knows it.
Habits can be a lot like that too. The more we engage in certain activities the bigger their presence is in our lives. As a matter of fact, our lives tend to reflect our habits. Let me show you how.
Your Finances Reflect Your Spending Habits
Your bank account reflects your spending and saving habits. Your average daily balance is a cumulative reflection on how well you spend and save money. Over time, the small decisions you make about money add up and impact your wealth…or lack of it. If you make a habit of saving, the accumulation will show up in your savings account. If you make a habit of spending and living paycheck to paycheck, it will reflect as well. When it comes to micro habits, small steps can make a BIG difference over time. Saving as little as 10% of your income consistently adds up and thanks to compound interest, there’s big incentive to save.
Your Health Reflects Your Dietary and Activity Habits
Other than living with a chronic illness or injury, your weight, health, and overall lifestyle are a reflection of the habits you have. The types of foods you eat, whether or not you exercise, how tidy and neat your home is are all a reflection of the cumulative habits you engage in. Simple but small habits like making the bed each day or prepacking lunches can make a BIG impact on your attitude and health. The small things you do day in and day out add up to the results you have when you look in the mirror each morning or how you feel when walking into your home.
Nothing Happens Overnight
You won’t become wealthy by saving once and you won’t become overweight by eating one piece of cheesecake. Nothing happens overnight. It’s the accumulation of behaviors and habits that adds up to the results you have. The good news is micro habits can help you achieve the outcomes you want. Small things done over time accumulate and the results can be amazing.
3 Reasons Habits Are More Important Than Goals
There’s a lot of info out there about goal setting, especially as we near the new year and the time of making resolutions. Businesses routinely create goals and a lot of people start the new year with a list of fresh goals hoping to make positive changes in their lives. Goals are important. They represent ideas, hopes, and dreams. If you’ve set goals before you know the excitement of creating a vision and setting your sights on achieving it. Setting goals is important, but goals don’t mean anything if you don’t develop the habits to reach them.
While goals are important, habits may actually be more important. Here’s three reasons why-
Goals are Inspiring, Habits are Sustaining
Goals are Complex, Habits are Easy
Goals are Finite, Habits are Endless
Sustainability is more important than inspiration- Goals can be very inspiring. Dreaming up new ideas can get anyone excited about the possibilities. In the goal-setting phase, nothing is off limits. As the saying goes- if you can dream it you can do it, right? Not always. Goals are very inspiring and can get you motivated to make changes, but as soon as the motivation wanes, so does your inspiration. Habits are more important than goals because they create something sustainable. Creating, engaging in, and adopting a habit morphs it into something automatic that you can do whether you are inspired to or not. Brushing your teeth doesn’t require inspiration, it simply happens because it’s a sustainable, routine hygiene habit.
Ease is more important than doing things the hard way- Goals are complex because they don’t take into account roadblocks, unforeseen issues, or how realistic their achievement is. Goals are easily abandoned when they get hard because there isn’t a system in place to reach them. Habits are easy because they are small. Done consistently, they become effortless. Building a system of habits may take time, but in the end it’s easier to get where you want to go by adding easy-to-do habits together.
Building a lifetime of good habits is more important than reaching a goal- Goals are finite. If you decide to run a marathon, your goal ends with the finish line. If you develop the habit of running each day, you have a life-long health habit that surpasses the goal of running a marathon. Setting a goal to make a specific amount of money by a certain due date is a great goal, but developing the habit of making consistent income and saving every time you are paid builds wealth.
Having goals is a great thing, but it’s more important to build habits that help you reach and surpass your goals. In the end, you can’t reach your goals without developing key habits that make it possible.
3 Steps to Creating New Habits
We all have times in our lives where we intentionally want to change our behavior for the better and create new habits for ourselves. This could be getting in the habit of eating healthier and drinking more water. Or it could be moving more and taking the dog for a daily walk. Or it could be work related, or spiritual, or… There are so many areas in our lives that could be improved and made easier if we created new habits.
Getting into the habit of doing something is often easier said than done. We seem to acquire bad habits without any effort, but getting into a “good” habit can be a little more challenging.
Let’s break it down into a three step process that makes it easy to follow until we’ve internalized the new behavior and made it a true habit – something we do automatically without having to think about, like brushing our teeth.
Decide What You Want To Do
The first step is to decide what you want that new habit to be. Be as specific as possible. Don’t just tell yourself you want to exercise more. Instead say something like “I will go for a 30 minute walk every single day”. Deciding what your new habit will be and committing to when and how you’re going to do it, is half the battle.
Remind Yourself To Get It Done
The next few days should be smooth sailing. You’re motivated and excited to get this done. Sticking to your new habit isn’t an issue. But a few days in you’ll notice that it’s easy to slip back into old habits.
Maybe it’s raining and you don’t really want to go out and walk. Or maybe your day just gets away from you. This is when it’s important to have a daily reminder. Set an alert on your phone or add the new habit to your daily to-do list for a while.
Make It Part Of Your Routine Until It Becomes A Habit
Which brings us to the last step. It takes some time before a new behavior becomes a true habit. Until then, a routine will work to your best advantage. Even before the new behavior becomes automatic, a routine will help you get it done without having to spend a lot of willpower or relying on daily reminders.
Make that daily walk part of your after dinner routine, or change from grabbing a snack at the vending machine at work at 10:00 in the morning to packing a healthy snack.
Congratulations! Decide to create the new habit, practice the routine until it’s second nature and you’ll be well on your way to forming a new good habit.