Is Your Behavior a Habit or a Hope?

Accountability Change Self-improvement

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Key Point: For most of us it takes commitment and exceptional perseverance to consciously develop new good habits. As an example, I’m working hard to habitually journal leadership learning from day to day experiences and I’m struggling to make it a natural, easy, and unconscious part of my daily routine.

How will I know if my behavior actually gets to the habit stage? I thought the following excerpt from Pickthebrain.com, provided a great checklist: If some of these apply and not others, it might mean you’re getting close, but you’re not quite there yet.

You might have a habit if…

“1. It’s more natural to do it than not to do it (it’s default behavior).

The Test: Has your behavior crossed the threshold of discomfort into comfortable and preferred? If so, it’s a habit. This is the primary definition of habit and perhaps best indicator, but if you’re not here yet, the signs that follow could indicate that you’re getting very close.

2. You don’t worry about doing it (it’s expected).

The Test: Are you sure you will carry out a behavior to the point that you don’t concern yourself with following through? That’s the sign of a habit.

3. It no longer feels like a great accomplishment (it’s normalized).

The Test: How do you feel when you do your positive behavior? Does it feel like a huge accomplishment or just one more step forward? If it’s habit, it will seem normal more than extraordinary.

4. It requires little to no willpower (it’s not driven by your prefrontalcortex).

The Test: Do you have to get motivated to do your desired behavior? Does it require more effort than its physical and mental components would indicate? If so, it is not a habit yet.

5. Missing a day only happens for a really good reason (you don’t use excuses to justify inaction).

The Test: When something sets you back, do you feel any hint of relief? Are your excuses weak or irrefutable? When you have a habit, you only miss days if you must, and not a day extra. Remember, a habit is something your brain automatically wants to do, so you won’t find yourself trying to justify doing something else.

6. It’s fun more than a chore.

The Test: Is your desired behavior still a chore in your eyes? If so, it’s not likely a habit. Of course, some habits will always be somewhat chore-like (such as…chores), but when something becomes habit, it probably means you’ve already started to see benefits from it, which can reframe the activity positively in your mind.”

Character Moves:

  1. Recognize that it takes relentless persistence to actually develop a good habit. Don’t give up or be too hard on yourself if you struggle to get there. Step by step progress along with positive reinforcement helps. Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit provides additional insight outlining the way to successfully generate good habits.
  2. If you genuinely do not see the value in having a behavior become a good habit, consciously choose not make it one to rather than just giving up and feeling defeated. The beauty of habits is that they are exclusively yours. You’re in control.

Good habits in the Triangle,

Lorne