Wait a second. I need to backtrack for a moment to talk about something very important, something central to this whole discussion on habits. Why are habits so awesome?
Here are a few reasons habits are worth giving attention to, and why I can talk about them for an entire month.
– Habits preserve willpower. Since we’ve learned that willpower is a finite resource, this is important. Establishing good habits means that you use your willpower reserves for the truly important stuff. If you have the habit of flossing nightly, it isn’t a decision, and you don’t have to deplete willpower to do it.
In his book, Charles Duhigg puts it this way: “Habits are a lasting technique for conserving willpower.” Better to use your willpower to avoid yelling at your children than use it up for something silly, like forcing yourself to floss (there’s that again!).
– Habits create a cascade effect of success. We talked yesterday about keystone habits and spillover. Guys, this is huge. Developing the right habits can makeover your life quicker than you imagine.
– Habits are easier (and better) than goals. I wrote a whole post on this topic on my other blog, and will revisit it in this series too. Habits are easier, in my opinion, because they are more likely to lead to the outcome you desire.
– Habits are the tortoise, not the hare, in the story. The tortoise wins every time in the Aesop story. Habits help you reach goals without burning out.
– Habits can define you and create your biography. Stephen Covey puts it this way:
“Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.”
That’s almost a scary thought, isn’t it? It underscores why it’s so important to give attention to habits. When I die, do I want to be known as a person who: made the people around me crazy with my procrastination, engaged in gossip and negative talk, died early because of over-eating and under-moving, left my kids no inheritance, and left behind a cluttered, messy house?
Not me. The legacy we leave behind is largely due to our habits.