The Habit Cleanse
By the time April arrives, many New Year’s resolutions have come and gone all by disappeared; This makes April the perfect time to do a habit cleanse. While I don’t personally like dietary cleanses, I do like cleaning away the things that no longer work in my life, like the behaviors that no longer serve my greater good. Habits are typically unconscious behaviors that are repetitive, so in order to make a shift, it’s necessary to become conscious of your decisions. To become conscious, we have to first uncover what we are unconsciously doing. One of my favorite ways of looking at this state of change is this:
- First, we are UNCONSCIOUSLY INCOMPETENT
- Then we must become CONSCIOUSLY INCOMPETENT
- To be able to become CONSCIOUSLY COMPETENT
- Before we can move to UNCONCSIOUS COMPETENCE
Initially, I don’t know that I don’t know (it’s an unconscious habit). Next, I need to become aware, so I know that I don’t know (it’s a conscious bad habit). Then I have to really apply my discipline and take action, I know that I know, but it’s not easy and it takes work. Finally, it becomes an unconscious habit; I don’t know that I know. This process has to begin with an inventory.
Any business that doesn’t take regular inventory of its stock is sure to have problems. So in many ways, a habit inventory is a good place to start when looking to make changes to your behaviors. Start by writing down the habits you’d like to change. For example, if you want to change how you eat, start a nutrition diary.
Choose the habit with the highest degree of urgency. What is the MOST important one for you to change? For me, getting enough sleep are absolute essentials. To be successful, I’ve had to make some structural changes to my life! I get up at 4:30am every morning to meditate (and drink coffee) before my 6am classes. It’s critical for me to be in bed by 9:30 to ensure that I am getting adequate sleep.
It’s best to take baby steps to make changes. In this case, it means I have to start getting ready for bed at 9:00, which is not always easy when getting home late from work. The bonus here has been that other bad habits have been pushed aside by keeping my eye on my primary goals. Getting to bed early stops me from eating a big dinner and snacking.
Below are some of my favorite quotes on habits; perhaps one of them will spark your fire!
- We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle
- Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken. Warren Buffett.
- Habit is stronger than reason. George Satayana
- What studies say the number one best way to start an exercise habit is to give yourself a reward that you genuinely enjoy. Charles Duhigg