Habitual Habits; How Actions Become Habitual. Everyone has habits in their life that they have developed over the years. Some of them are really good for you and others not so much. For example, you might have learned to brush your teeth every morning and every night before bed. This will keep your teeth healthy and it is a habit that will give you a better smile. Also, save you big money at the dentist and prevent a whole lot of pain and suffering (anyone who has ever had a dental extraction will agree wholeheartedly).
On the other hand, you might have developed the habit of procrastination. You definitely aren’t alone. Everyone procrastinates to some degree, and some people make it a habitual way of life. Procrastination happens for many reasons. Sometimes it is the fear of success, the lack of confidence in achieving it and sometimes, it is just a lack of motivation.
These are just two examples of good and bad habits. You have thousands of habits (good and bad) that you have ingrained in yourself over the years. Understanding how these habits developed will allow you to see your own successes and failures more clearly and being familiar with the psychology behind habits will give you an objective perspective and allow you to fix problems without as much emotional baggage.
The Psychology Behind Your Habits
It all starts with understanding the psychology behind your habits. How they form, what motivates you to perform them and how they become a permanent part of your life. The first thing that you need to understand is that all habits from brushing your teeth to recognizing and taking advantage of multi-million dollar business opportunities are formed exactly the same way. The neurological process in forming habits is identical, and it doesn’t matter if it is a tiny habit, a major habit, a bad habit, a habitual habit. or a good one.
Understanding this is actually one of the most important things that you can do because it immediately tells you something about yourself – namely, that if you can teach yourself to brush your teeth twice or three times a day, without even thinking about it, then you can teach yourself anything.
You can have confidence in your ability to teach yourself any good habit that you want because you have already done it many times in your life. While brushing your teeth may seem to have very little to do with starting an online business and making it successful, the process is exactly the same. If you can do one, you can do the other.
Learning How to Brush Your Teeth Again
Imagine that you are not in the habit of brushing your teeth. You brush a couple of times a week, but you want to brush at least twice every day. You probably aren’t trying to develop this habit in reality but bear with me because it serves to demonstrate a very important example of how habits are formed. Let’s start with the morning. When you get up in the morning, you know that you have bad breath. The last thing that you want to do is leave the house with dragon breath and then go to work and talk to co-workers.
That’s why when you first wake up, you are going to spend a few minutes thinking about what it would be like to go into work with bad breath. Imagine the look on your co-worker’s faces and how people would talk about you. This should properly motivate you to get into the bathroom as soon as you wake up to brush your teeth. If you want to motivate yourself in the evening, using the same example, then spend a few minutes lying in bed and thinking about all of the bacteria, sugar and rotting bits of food that are still in and on your teeth. You will want to get up and brush them before you go to sleep.
These pre-actions are called triggers, and they are the basis of the neurological process that creates habits. When you have a trigger, you motivate an action. You can create these triggers yourself (habitual) so that you do the action automatically, and it won’t be a chore. It will be something that you actually want to do.
Creating Long-Term Habits that Last
Creating your trigger is only the first step in the process of creating a long-term habit. You first have to train your mind to trigger the action and then you will perform it. When you do that enough times (which is where the 30-day plan outlined in a later chapter comes in) the action will become automatic and you will no longer need the trigger in order to remember to do the action.
It is just as important to be motivated when you are triggering action as it is to remember to do it. Just because you created a trigger doesn’t mean that you are going to want to perform the habit making it habitual. That’s why you need to create a benefits list for every habit that you are attempting to form. Use visualization to motivate yourself to complete an action. When you can see the end result that you want in your mind you are much more likely to do the habit with or without the trigger.
Your mindset is where everything starts. It’s how you set goals. It’s what gives you the strength to go after them.