I’m a creature of habit, a fact I used to acknowledge with a frown. In fact, we humans are all creatures of habit, and it’s cause for celebration. Without habit, we’d be hopelessly mired in the “how-to” of daily life.
I’d never get anything done if I had to stop and think about the sequence of actions involved in getting dressed, making breakfast, reading my email or driving a car. Habits save me a ton of time. Researchers at Duke University suggested in 2006 that 45% of everyday behaviors are carried out by habit.
The trick is using habit wisely. “Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life…,” says Gretchen Rubin, founder of The Happiness Project and author of the brand-new Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of our Everyday Lives. “If we have habits that work for us, we’re much more likely to be happy, healthy, productive, and creative.” More productive and creative, eh? Well, it does seem as if every interview with a famous writer reveals that he or she writes for a set length of time at a certain time every day, no matter what. Now, that’s a productive habit.
Neuroscience even has a phrase to describe why and how habits form: Neurons that fire together wire together. If I start firing the “sit down and write” neurons immediately after I (habitually) fire the “put oatmeal bowl in sink” neurons, the practice of writing first thing each morning will get easier and easier.
You probably have a pretty good idea which habits are making your life better, and which ones you’d rather scrap. There’s a science to creating habits. For some practical tips on how to do it—and what to do about those pesky bad habits—check out a PDF of my latest magazine article. Click on “My Articles” above, then click on “The No. 1 Game-Changer.”
If you have immediate questions or want to chat about habits and how to make them work for you (on your own or with a coach), give me a call at 608 770 7076. I’d love to hear from you.