Use It Or Lose It Tendency, The Power Of Habit, And Creating More Time For The Things You Love
We are creatures of habit. We are habit machines. Almost everything we do from the moment we wake up to the moment we hit the sack, is a function of habit. Without the habit-forming ability we have as a species, we’d probably still be some single-cell organism, or something. Animals, fish, insects — an almost ever other living thing — use habit in some form or another. It is key to their survival. It is key to ours. But not only that; habit can also be manipulated. Habit is a tool that you can use to smartly design your life, make big change and learn things very fast.
Instead of expounding on what habit is (we all know), this article is a simple guide to help you make the most of it — by pinpointing how you may be misusing it without even knowing.
We all have habits, bad and good, and you no doubt know how hard it is to drop bad ones and make good ones. What you probably didn’t know is that if you don’t exercise habit — that is, if you don’t take the time to forge and feed your acquired habits, the good ones — MORE Willpower is required to get you do act. Willpower drains on your already limited supply of mental energy. Therefore the more of it you use to bring yourself to do the things you know you should be doing, the less mental energy you have to actually do them, and, the less you have to the things which you like to do, such as playing, pleasure reading or walking the dog. Instead, you just want to rest — you need it; forcing yourself to do the things you normally like to do just makes them unenjoyable and boring.
An example: say you want to lose weight: If you never take the time to exercise, eat healthy or destress on a regular basis — so that habit will form — each time you do it will be the function not of habit, but of Willpower. Habit, once formed, makes decisions effortless; you do things without much thought at all.
Using Will to go for that walk, eat healthy — or whatever else — is necessary in the first stages (think of a baby learning to walk; think of yourself learning to drive) but if you’re inconsistent in your actions, you’ll constantly be drawing on Willpower, and therefore, mental energy — a very limited supply of it.
Not only must you take the forging of habit seriously, you must also take the exercise of that habit equally seriously. Some habits — like learning to drive, speak a language, brush your teeth or shower — don’t easily atrophy; that is, they are not easily forgotten. There are a couple of reasons for this: One is because they took a long, perhaps mentally draining, process to form — such as learning to drive, speak or walk; the other is because you do them so often. Habits such as these you could literally stop doing for many years, and you wouldn’t forget them. Sure you may lose proficiency, but it is easily regained. The habits that form a lot of our conscious thoughts however — such as exercise, healthy eating, studying, walking, etc — are more easily forgotten, neglected, and harder to form; the habits that we talk so much about and find so hard to create are the same very habits that atrophy so swiftly.
With all that, here is the lesson: take a good look at your current habits and come to a full understanding of the habits you wish to embody; take the embodiment of them habits seriously — by being consistent, thorough and honest with yourself; and look after the habit once it’s formed — by exercising it regularly, very regularly.
And remember: Excitement builds momentum, but only character lasts; Motivation and inspiration feel good, but don’t last. Habit does.